We had breakfast in our hotel before taking a short walk down to the river to catch our boat for the day on the lake (4000 Kyet each plus a 2000 expected tip). We were in a boat with Mike and Aad (Art) so I ensured all 4 of us had taken some Ondansetron as we all suffer from sea sickness……it worked really well ….no casualties!
Before we knew it we were skimming along the shallow waterways of the 35km Lake in a traditional long-tail boat, noisy motor with a spray of water out the rear! Along the way we saw fisherman propelling their boats with one leg wrapped around the oar…..very unusual! We also saw them using their nets and standing on one leg……not really sure what that was about….but one fellow brought his boat up alongside and showed me a fish….he then asked for money….as we had taken advantage of his poses for our photos Vince gave him 1000 Kyet …..he seemed quite pleased with that.
The Inth people live on the lake, building their houses on stilts. We weaved our way through the watery streets between the many houses on stilts (Nampan and Innpawkhone villages) before stopping at a house where local families produce Shan (Mullberry) paper and parasols. It was fascinating to watch…..very interesting. Unfortunately, my camera battery had failed to charge and so ran out…..my spare was also flat ( since our multiple point charger broke in India we can only charge a few things at a time and it means some things take priority over others).
Back in our boat we move on to another cottage industry….silversmithing. Again we saw a demonstration of how they pour the silver….mixing it with copper to harden it…and the artisans showed us some of the traditional designs they make….such as the “full moon” …..I ended up buying a small one (US15) which they adapted in minutes to a larger bale so it could fit my Pandora bracelet that I am collecting as a souvenir…..very special!
Again, back in our boat we were quickly on our way to see how they weave traditional fabric designs from cotton, lotus (water lily) and silk……amazing! Some of th women working there were from the Kayan People….or Giraffe Women of Eastern Burma ….they wear brass rings around their necks from age 9 in order to provide a visual illusion that elongates them. I had a feel of the rings…..they are extremely heavy …a full set can weigh as much as 10kg. The women I saw also had them on their legs as well. I bought a cotton “longee” (US15) and they sewed some cords onto it to make it easier for “westerners to tie”. I wanted to get one for Vince but he refused, despite my encouragement I could not convince him. I also bought a beautiful red silk and lotus scarf (US65)……I know space is an issue but we need to post some stuff home soon so I yielded to the temptation……it was just so soft and beautiful!
We stopped off at the floating market….which was very touristy……but Vince and I managed to escape the hordes and sit in a little tea place and try some local food….delicious. Next it was off to lunch in the Royal Palace Restaurant…..our meals were very tasty (10,000 Kyat). As we went downstairs to the jetty to meet our boat ( we had three in total for the 10 tourists and their guides)….we were all busy chatting when I heard a loud “crack”…. It took me a moment or two to identify the noise when there were another two in quick succession…….still trying to process what was going on I realised my feet and legs were getting wet and before I knew it more and more of me was sinking and tilting to the left as the jetty collapsed below us……Vince and I wee at the end of the jetty so we took the brunt of the dunking down there…along with Aad (Art) and Mike and Claire and Emiel. It was quite alarming on the one had but on the other hand I felt strangely calm as Vince put his arms around me to hold me up telling me “l’ve got you and I won’t let you Go!” I did hurt my little toe on my left foot and Vince hurt his finger on his left hand…..but otherwise no drama. Before I knew it Vince and Aad were pushing me up onto the remaining wooden platform out of the water. I then turned to help pull Vince out! I’d had this weird feeling all day that one of us was going to end up wet …..I thought the boat may tip over or the water flood in…..as they are quite rickety and low in the water…..but I hadn’t considered that sinking feeling! The staff were all very helpful and got us a longee each to change into and some flimsy white T shirts……so Vince had to get into a longee afterall…….he looked very fetching I must say! Firstly they gave me a lovely blue cotton one….but it was for a man and the two girls who were helping us insisted that I must have a girls one…..so I changed again into a rayon brown and green one…….I must say as grateful as I was for the change…..I think the men’s ones are more comfortable……hmmmmmm they get all the good stuff! Vince said his was very comfortable! Who would have thought this would happen…..time stood still and then proceeded in slow motion, even though it actually all happened pretty quickly……. all part of the Adventure!
Resplendent in our newly knitted out local attire……needless to say we still failed dismally to blend in …not even little bit…….as we finished the day finished with a visit to the famous Phaung Daw U Pagoda, which enshrines five Buddha images believed to have been carried to this area by the widely-traveled 12thcentury King Alaungsithu then Nga Phe Chaung Monastery (Jumping Cat Monastery). Each year they are carried around on a special gold barge….vey impressive. On the way back we passed through the floating gardens where they grow tomatoes (for export), potatoes, chillies and all kinds of vegetables…….very ingenious!
Back at the dock we tried to pay for the boat and it was a bit of a process as all our money was wet and stuck together. In our hotel Vince spent the evening drying it out with a hairdryer whilst I hand washed all our wet things and added them to “Chung Whas Chinese Laundry (aka our hotel room) that had been set up to dry out the contents of our leaking panniers and the soaking we took yesterday in the rain.
The only saving grace was I had managed to sent out some washing (basically my riding jacket and pants, some T-shirts/shirts and some underwear and socks…..but when I went to enquirer at reception they tried to give me a pack of clothes (Room 305 which was correct) of other men’s clothes…..they had lost ours! It took a little time but eventually they delivered the correct ….and thankfully dry clothes to our room!
We were both exhausted …so an early dinner at local restaurant 68 (Vince and I cost 12,000 Kyet) with Aad (Art) and Mike….then off to the pancake place (Vince and I cost 5,5000 Kyet) for desert and bed…….Vince was asleep before his head hit the pillow!