Day 25 | An abrupt boat tour of Inle Lake

Today was our only full day in Inle Lake and it was a bit of a blur, I’ll try my best to explain though videos and photos are better at this. We scheduled an all day boat tour to start at 6 AM sharp. I was still sick, nauseous and had bad stomach cramps now +33 hours since the ice cream incident in Yangon. But no matter what I was not going to leave Nyaung Shwe tomorrow morning without taking the de rigueur Inle Lake boat tour.

We got a late start and met our boat driver at 6:15 AM at our guesthouse, Zawgyi Inn. The sweet girl who works at the inn, presumably the owner’s daughter, prepared our boxed breakfasts for us since we left too early to enjoy breakfast in their dining room.

The three of us walked to the jetty which was about 1 km away. Our driver loaded us onto the boat and we were on our way down the Nyaung Shwe canal into Inle Lake.

It was still dark out and we wanted to catch the sunrise over the lake. We opportunely bumped into these three Inle Lake fisherman showboating in front of another tourist boat (a tourist tipped each of them to pose for the photo).

3 leg rowing fisherman

Another fisherman shown here balancing on one foot holding his giant net in one hand and paddle in the other.

We captured a beautiful sunrise over the naturally and culturally rich lake.

Sunrise over leg rowing fisherman

It was very cold in the early morning and windy since the boat zoomed through very fast. A shock to the system but refreshing after the persistent heat of low-lying Yangon. The boatman provided us blankets on our seats.

Cold Maurice

We approached the first village which had houses all built high up on stilts and the only form of transportation from one house to another is by boat.

Our first stop on land was to a silver workshop (shown behind me).

Mimi at silversmith

A young man gave us a short tour of the facilities. Four other young men were working by hand (and simple manually-operated machines) on intricate parts of the silver jewelry making process. We bought a small silver fish charm that swims when you jingle it.

Next our driver took us into a village Heyar Yawrma that was hosting the rotating market. There was a long line of merchants selling the same assortment of handmade crafts and other tourist merchandise. We looked at their items a little too long because they would keep talking to us about buying and some of them were very difficult to refuse. We did not want to buy anything but many were desperate to make a sale. We kept hearing over and over again:

Lucky money. Not espensive. Very cheap.

Past the tourist merchandise stalls, the real local market began. First we saw piles of freshwater fish from Inle Lake in various states of life and death being sold. Maurice paused to take pictures and videos of the scene. I usually don’t mind the smell of fish and other interesting market smells, but today I could not handle it at all and wanted to run away ASAP.

There were also fruit sellers as well.

Fruit market at Inle Lake

I tried to hide away from the fresh fish and cooking odors coming from the market. Maurice found me sitting at the base of a small stupa.

Feeling sick at Inle Lake

We then walked towards the center of the village where a large temple stood. A rooster perched on top of it crowing his lungs out. Dude, it’s almost 10 AM, aren’t you a little late? The temple’s intricately-trimmed roof showed obvious wear-and-tear on its corrugated metal panels.

Inle Lake village temple

We sat for a while inside the temple where there was a small ceremony for a little girl dressed up in a yellow traditional outfit. She looked hesitant at everyone looking at her.

Little girl in temple

We kept walking on the village’s main street until we crossed a bridge and ended up at a more residential section of the village. Since we were on our own, the boat driver waited for us at the boat, we didn’t know how to continue.

Village street

Maurice posing on the bridge.

On the bridge

I was feeling extremely sick and violently vomited under that bridge into the grass. I started crying cause I was in so much pain. Later when we walked back across the bridge to where we came from, an old lady told me to sit down in her chair in front of her market stall. She gave me her menthol inhaler and told me to use it and keep it. I explained to her that I ate something bad and hence the vomiting. We both communicated in charades.

Maurice and I then headed back to the boat off to the next destination. The boatman asked us if we saw the long necked ladies (Padaung). We did not but I wasn’t in the right mood to walk back through the village again.

Our driver looking cool as he blasts through the marshy channels out of the village area.

Our boat driver

We then pulled into the next village Inn Dain. There were dozens of villagers bathing and washing their clothes in the lake water.

This village was more quintessentially pretty. View of the approach into the village.

Hills behind Inn Dain

View of the footbridge looking back the other direction.

Small bridge in Inn Dain

Young monks took a break from their sojourn to splash in the cool, clear waters and even take a selfie!

Monks taking a selfie

We walked for what seemed like hours (remember I’m exhausted, dehydrated and I have an empty stomach but with no appetite) through the village. The walk was probably only 15 minutes. I took a quick break in the covered stairway leading up to the main pagoda area.

Mimi on a bench

While Maurice went on to the take photos of the expanse of stupas that earns Inn Dain the nickname “Shan Bagan.”

Inle Lake's mini Bagan

Maurice saw I was in really bad shape and recommended we go back to the boat and head to our guesthouse. I told him like a noble soldier:

No, we have come this far, you need to finish the journey for both of us.

I urged him to walk the additional 100 meters and take photos and videos of the main pagoda area so he could share with me later.

Then we both walked back to the jetty where our boat was parked. It took a long time for me as I had to hold onto to Maurice for balance. I took a quick break on the grassy riverbank to vomit out all the water I drank today. The boatman was surprised to see us so soon at just after noon. We told him we’re done just take us back to Nyaung Shwe. Like I did earlier with the kind old lady, I showed him in charades that food went into my mouth and then came out… well you get the idea. He understood.

On our way back we saw these young men rowing makeshift bamboo rafts with bamboo paddles. I really wish I knew the story behind these. Perhaps they’re transporting freshly cut bamboo and this is the least resource-intensive way to do it?

One more video on our way back through a field of golden stupas.

We paid the boat driver the full day’s fare for both of us 20,000 kyats ($16) and then walked back to our guesthouse. We stopped by a pharmacy to buy me oral rehydration powder and then a grocery store to get one liter of water and four half-liter sports drink bottles. We arrived back to hotel by 1:30 PM.

Maurice monitored me making sure I drank all the sports drinks (not bad) and one liter of oral rehydration solution (tasted awful) by the end of the night. I slept through the afternoon until 7 PM.

Meanwhile, Maurice worked on yolomimo. He wrote two blog entries back to back (including ghostwriting one entry on my behalf).

For dinner, Maurice went to Sin Yaw the local restaurant we went to yesterday and got us some takeout. Maurice ate Shan-style chicken curry. I ate only white rice and mini bananas. I was slowly feeling better and getting rest to prepare for the heat of Bagan, our next stop tomorrow.

8 thoughts on “Day 25 | An abrupt boat tour of Inle Lake

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *