Inle Lake: Where time stood still

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December 21st 2014
Published: December 23rd 2014
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A four foot tall girl padded silently to her bicycle and subtly beckoned me to follow her. As she pushed her bicycle, I meandered along behind her and we wound our way through the village of Nyaungshwe, past the ladies with their baskets of fruit, (kind of) fresh fish and hordes of curious locals. I, trustingly, followed along. As the path ahead ended, I was gestured towards a long, narrow black wooden boat on my right, where a rugged-up man smiled up at me, positioned a wooden seat in the middle of the vessel and handed me a blanket. Thus, without a word being spoken, I was off for my adventure to Inle Lake and its floating villages, with both the morning fog and the temple tops rising along the banks on either side as we pushed off from the mud.

***Right, the paragraph above is how I normally think and write; however, this particular day was jam-packed with more tales than I could ever fit into a single blog entry, so I am going to instead use the text of an e-mail I sent my mother to let her know I was still alive (having not written to her since I had left home). It was written in a moment of exuberance and I’ll trust that the photos attached to this blog will tell the rest of the tale…

Hi Mum!

I just wanted to let you know that I am safely in Burma. I have spent two nights here now and have loved exploring Inle Lake. I hired a boat and driver yesterday and visited floating villages that have been untouched by time or progress. Everything is still done by hand, using looms, the fibres from lotus plants to make string, fishing with a hand-woven net in a hand-made boat, silversmiths, blacksmiths, everything! Being in the middle of a lake, they also have floating vegetable gardens! It was amazing. Have you ever seen pictures of the women with golden rings around their necks, gradually pushing down their collar bones and ribs, thus making their necks really long? Well, I remember seeing photos when I was young and was fascinated by them – and yesterday I actually saw some of these women and interacted with one! I also went to an old pagoda and listened to the chimes atop the stupas make the breeze sing. I spoke with a local about the life of Buddha, as depicted by a stunning engraving done on strips of bamboo. I also went to a local market, where I stood out like a sore thumb, but I loved it. I bought some food there and was simply fascinated by the lively and colourful scene. I even got there and back on a farmer’s tractor! It was truly an incredible day. Tomorrow, I will fly to Bagan, which is the reason I am here. I can’t wait!!

See you on the 24th!

All my Love,

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