Inle Lake

Listen to:
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding (on repeat please)
Who Says by John Mayer (the feel of the song, not so much the 'I do whatever I want' lyrics)

I was most excited for Inle Lake (I <3>

We wandered around Naungshwe, the cheap backpacker town, until we thought we'd seen it all (ghetto fabulous museum and myster flour on noodles) and started walking due east, by a seamstress' recommendation of a cave and monastery "20 minutes walk." Our guest house said maybe 30. We put on the good sheos and headed east. Turns out 30 minutes was almost half way- we walked and walked and walked- no singing- passing the outskirts of town we didnt' know existed, government offices I wanted to egg, a lot of kids on their way home from school and then! a dirt road. Onward we went, hoping for the best despite lies of close proximity.

This is far too much leadup for this caliber of story- I'll get down to facts. After an hour of alking we hit the mountain where a score of young monks (aged 8-16 probably) were on the hill in red, moving big rocks from the hillside. Hmm, okay? Up the stairs was aloverly little pagoda and a man carving a huge plaster or stone pagoda fish (for good luck?). One of the little monks (very cute but in no way endearing) led us down a windy path a bunch of stairs and someone's backyard to a creepy but awesome cave with a bunch of Buddhist reics and a roped-off staircase that led down into the dark. The boy motioned for us to take a picture down the abyss. Haych no, little boy. I know enough about Buddhist ghosts to know that pictures in places like this are a bad idea. Our walk back was pleasant and we had a pitiful pancake dinner and amazing kettle corn (and Star Cola as a night cap). The 45 minute longboat (motor canoe) ride down to the lake was FREEZING. We (2 of us) in our chairs with lifejacks (I used mine as acusion, because really), the Burmese (at least 5 per boat, but up to 20) coming to and from markets on the floor (probably more comfortable), along with 500 pounds of produce, of course).
We popped out of the canal to the most picturesque silouette of a traditional fisherman. Hello photo-op! Too bad our camera is out of batteries! We float on by and realize it's a boy and a girl - probably 9 years old- posing for boats. Cute. Our keen (chain smoking) boat driver was good at slowing down at picture-perfect moments, or any time we lifted the camera for a shot. He was also good at bringing us to all sorts of palces we didn't want to go - like a fancy lunch after we already ate a big pile of local unknown something (we think maybe tofu - or maybe deep friend fat, and some reddish sauce). Neighborhoods of stilted homes make sense now - some on man-made mud islands (with tiled singking frames to prove it) some just straight out of the water. Tons are decorate like high end beach houses- paste or bold painted slats, chain-hung signs. Fields of tomatoes, onions and a few rice paddys line the lake (floating gardens, literally)- waterways make for easy (easy?) harvesting. The lake is anything but pristing but loks only a few feet dep. In places it was pure glass.
I kept thinking- I could live here. I could. Maybe have my kids do a study aboroad one year some day. Perectly quain and these kids know how to work! I swear everywhere we go teenage boys (or younger!) are waiting tables, digging mud out of 'water roads' to rebuild islands, lifting rocks ath the monastery work camp- even the punked out ones (few but hilarious in their longyis) were working hard. But still breathing while they're doing, like everyone else in town but busy (but somehow still lazy) tourists. I just love laid back life like this. And if it weren't for the helicopter-decibal motors on the back of some of the longboats, this is just how I picture heaven.

No comments: