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Published: April 11th 2006
Inle Fishermen are famous for rowing with their legs
After leaving Yangon we spent one day in Mandalay and then got to Inle Lake. Two night buses in three days was pretty masochistic of us, but it all worked out allright. The best thing about night buses is that they are cheap and when you arrive somewhere dead tired at 4:30 AM the people at guesthouses are very cool and have a check in time something ridiculous like 4 or 5 AM so you can have a couple hours sleep and still save money on accommodation. We were staying at Remember Inn in a little bamboo room and we had the luxury of watching HBO in the common room with the awesome staff when the electricity was cooperating.
The next day we did the obligatory tourist thing and hired a boat for the day. We saw the fishermen rowing with their feet and the floating villages, visited factories and bought lots of souvenirs. Its very peaceful even with the boat motor roaring.
We were supposed to go on a trek the next day but Senti and I both woke up with Burma belly so we decided to postpone it a day to give the cipro a chance to
kick in. We laughed as we speculated what made us sick because we eat a lot of sketchy stuff so in a 48 hour period we have many likely suspects.
The next day we felt much better so we started on our trek. Our guide's name was something like Gold Fish, he was a pretty good guy. The first morning was 5 hours hiking straight up the mountain, when we stopped for lunch Senti and I both sort of passed out on floor of the bamboo hut for an hour while they cooked our food. Gold Fish said we were having mosquito soup but he failed to provoke a reaction from us hardened, hygienically challenged insect-consuming veterans (Senti: "Well, mosquitos have Senti soup all the time"). It turns out Burmese mountain food is rice and something like fried banana leaves, or rice and peanuts, or rice and pumpkin ("pumpkin" is Burmese for "random vegetable that doesn't have a name in English"). Rice for every meal and no meat. I was wolfing down everything, trekking really makes you appreciate food.
I have a picture of me lying there on the floor of that bamboo hut but I look like
a corpse so it might disturb you gentle readers. During lunch it started pouring rain so we were delayed a bit, the afternoon was much easier and we made it to the house in record time. Senti and I apologized for being so pokey but Gold Fish said we were the fastest people he's ever had to trek with, he's usually waiting on old people (how old? "30-35", says Gold Fish) catching their breath all the time. Maybe he was stroking our egos. So we got to the house and watched them cook dinner for two hours when it started monsooning again! Its supposed to be dry season so it was rather strange. I tried to convince Senti that 6:30 PM was a perfectly respectable bedtime when 1) its pouring rain out 2) there's no electricity and its pitch black outside 3) you're exhausted from trekking all day. Of course at 7:30 we both had to go pee so we had to run outside in the dark and pouring rain to the outhouse. It doesn't sound like it but it was quite an adventure.
So the storm raged for a couple of hours as we laid there on the
floor of an almost wind and rain-proof bamboo hut and I might have even slept a bit. The next morning we had breakfast and went for another walk through a couple of villages. After lunch we walked down the mountain to the lake and made it back to Nyaung Shwe in record time. We were riced-out and feeling like we were repeatedly run over by a truck so we ate Mars Bars and drank $1 Diet Cokes from Brunei and watched HBO until the power went out, damn our import luxury addictions!
The next day we rented bikes and rode for a couple of hours on the bumpiest road ever to the "Hot Springs", which turned out to be a hotel spa. But the ride was nice, I recommend it. Then it was back to Mandalay. Senti and I have a new project. I remember in my more ambitious youth spending many a summer's day digging in the backyard trying to get to China. So we started doing a survey, so far we have gathered that British children dig to Australia and Australian children wimp out and dig to China. They listen to us too much. (We'd provide
info from other nationalities, but when we ask Asians they just look at us like we're on crack, kind of like when we asked whether Burma observed daylight savings time.)
Please contribute to our research if you feel so inclined.
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