Day 16 – 17 (13 &14 oct) Mandalay to Inle and around.
Again up early ( I thought this was meant to be a holiday?) today we are heading to Inle Lake. A large freshwater lake in the Shan state, I say large because it can easily sustain a floating village numbering in the thousands, a fishing industry and still provide fast amounts of water that Myanmar uses for irrigation and hydro power generation.
I am afraid I will be going on a slight rant here – bear with me.
Leaving Mandalay Airport for a domestic flight to Inle Lake we were forced to go through customs checks twice – passport handed over the whole works – IT IS A DOMESTIC FLIGHT – before you say it was to check ID, we have picked up all our tickets at airline check in at every airport WITHOUT ID.
After the 45min boat ride to our hotel on a ‘long tail’ boat ( extremely shallow propellers fitted on long handles in the water sending ‘tails’ of water into the air as they move alone)
While our hotel wasn’t actually ‘floating’ it was built on stilts – not that it helped when boats went past as the whole room swayed with the waves – a very disconcerting feeling when you are on the toilet or in the bath.
After checking in our boat man took us around to various industry type cottages – the cigarette makers, lotus fibre weavers etc. The most interesting aspect I found was when we slowly motored through the residential area, through the stilt houses of the local villagers. I noticed a distant lack of waste water plumbing.. the ‘out house’ was just that. It emptied into the lake… usually beside the outhouse was a small covered pen, that housed the families livestock – a few chickens and maybe a pig – their waste too fell into the river below.
As we only have our boat driver to sun down – there are no lights on the long boats – so no night trips to the local restaurant – dinner was at the hotel. Now don’t they have a good scam going!!! They charge a lot for average quality food – all in USD rather than the local Kyat currency.
This region produced a lot of tomatoes – all in floating beds. It was unbelievable seeing farmers tend their crops… in boats.