March 18, 2009

Inle Lake, Myanmar

After a beautifully long and dusty trek from Kalaw, that packed in a lot of action, from a Buddhist monastery robbery to a travel mate who was from the Land of Backward Thinking, Angie and I arrived, tired and dirty, to the flowering trees and lake breezes of Inle. I quickly concluded that the only way to numb the reality of our stolen money was to use what currency remained to buy some big bottles of local beer, whereby after a few of these, we actually started to think that it was a bit comical, if not a good story….a good and expensive story.
At our guesthouse, Angie and I managed to meet a lovely group, a Dutch couple and a solo German traveler, who we joined forces with to explore the waterways and floating gardens that give this lake it’s fame. We all set out by boat and made the super touristy loop, visiting floating markets where everyone sells the same assortment of jewelry and trinkets, visiting the silk making “museum” where robbery is justified on a price tag, and to the very strange cats-jumping-through-a-hoop monastery.
The floating gardens were indeed very cool. There is a dense water leaf and soil that grows on the lake and when bunched together it literally forms a fertile island that can be built on or harvested. I am sure they grow all types of fruits and vegetables, but the only English word our guide knew was “tomato”, so my official knowledge is that they only grow tomatoes.
We had managed to make it to another group of ancient pagodas and as we were walking the long path flanked by vendor stalls all selling the same thing, there was a screaming kid. The small boy belonged to a German father and an Indian mother, but they were all speaking English making me think they were coming from America or Canada. It’s easy to see the differences between the well behaved children of Burma and a temper tantrum prone Westerner, but then again, this poor kid had probably seen a million pagodas and was suffering from disappointment when he realized that Mickey Mouse wasn’t going to jump out of any of them. During one of his fits under the hot sun, with no other children around, surrounded by crumbling pagodas and adults, his father turned to him and said, “Now you better behave or we’re not taking you on vacation next year!”, to which the very smart child kept crying.
After a few days of touring the lake, it was time to make my way South, toward the quiet town of Tongoo. It had been a great trip, and even though I had lost $30 in a heist, I had added a new friendship…and well, that is priceless.

1 comment:

jessica said...

i love how every story is different but there is always common denominator (something in and around 'a big bottle of beer') :)


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