What would a visit to Burma be without a stop at Inle Lake? Not being temple or stupa guys, we decided to give this venue a shot. This shallow 13.5 mile freshwater lake is on the tentative UNESCO Heritage list. And much like the klongs in Bangkok, there are no sidewalks or roads, only one person wide boats with outboard propellers. Do you see now, why I find this more culturally intriguing that bouncing around Europe?
As we pass both one and two-story houses built on stilts, we also dodge the fishermen using a one-legged paddling technique unique to rowing a boat. They stand and row so they can see over the reeds and floating plants for navigation. And can you believe they have been using hydroponics for growing tomatoes since the Sixties? Overlay that with the over the water Tahiti style bungalows.
Image result for Inle lake Absolutely mesmerizing!
Plenty of ancient stone pagodas stand on the hills above the water. And over two hundred monasteries also use this area as home. But for over a century, Inle Lake has been the center of the Burmese textile business. The weaving center and its artisans are based in the village of Inn Pau Khon. That clacking sound could be coming from elsewhere in SE Asia, as well as far off places like Mexico and Ecuador. Burma is known for their lotus fabric, since the shallow lake is ideal for the flowering lotus.
Image result for Inle lake Where is my luxury bungalow?
I could see spending a night here, as long as my bungalow does not move! My only concern is finding something to do, like boat races, boat rides, or water balloon fights. Water levels are high in October, and the hot and sticky monsoon season is over. We might even hit the three-week long Phaung Daw U Pagoda Festival.
Inle is the second largest lake in Burma. The average depth is 7 feet, but during the rainy season, can increase as much as 5 feet. It contains twenty species of snails (hello escargot!), and nine species of fish that are not found anywhere else in the world. The population of about 70,000 live in four towns around the lake. Most are Buddhist, live in wooden or bamboo houses on stilts, and farm or fish for a living. Noise pollution, and sanitation are continuing issues.
Fortunately, the cuisine incorporates local natural produce. The most well-known dish is Htamin jin, made of rice, tomato, potato or fish salad pressed into round balls, then garnished with crispy fried onions in oil, tamarind sauce, coriander, and spring onions, with garlic, chives, chili, fermented bean cake, and fried dried tofu on the side. Sounds yummy! I hope.
And to be truthful, I am ready to go home. It is hot and humid through most of our trip, and I miss Sheri and little Beau, as well as the comforts of home. I miss my 2 hour morning bicycle rides, my friends, and my relatives. I miss home cooking, sports on TV, and my morning Peets coffee.
So, two nights here, and off to Bangkok for a short night stay, before flying home via Tokyo. If I had more time and $, I would stop in Japan for a few days.
It is 5am, Burma time. I am still tired after 8 hours of sleep. Maybe, I can sleep in the car or plane. Take me home, country roads, to the place, I belong.