The Travelling Trooper Makes A Splash In Inle Lake

We spent the next day¬† on a bus to Inle Lake. Shortly after arriving at our hotel, Jo led us to one of his favourite spots in all of Inle: a randomly placed roller rink. Sadly, in the four years since Jo had been to Inle, the rink had closed down–apparently due to noise complaints. We had a beer in honour of the rink at a restaurant right across the street.

Since we couldn’t roller skate, we ended our night by getting drunk and playing Mario Kart on my Super Nintendo emulator on my laptop. It was great because drunken Mario Karting had been one of our first bonding experiences when we first met in Thailand a year and a half ago. And just like in Thailand, I crushed Jo and held on to my Mario Kart crown.

The next day was a busy one. We were heading out on a boat tour of Inle Lake.

It was a long and narrow boat that was just wide enough to fit three chairs in a row for us to sit in. The driver stood in the back and manoeuvred the engine. He would walk on the edge of the boat like a freaking ninja whenever he had to get something from the front–it was pretty impressive.

The ride was absolutely gorgeous. It took us all around the lake, which at 116 km squared, is the second largest lake in Myanmar. Riding through the endless marshes, with the stilted houses standing just over them, is a sight I never tired of. Especially with the endless hills in the background.

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Our first stop was a market. This did not bode well for me. I spent a stupid amount of money on pretty things today. First, I bought this pretty owl–not because it is supposed to bring good fortune as the woman who sold it to me claimed, but because it was cute.

Then I bought a Burmese tattooing needle–not because it was cute, but because it was badass.

Thankfully, nothing else caught my eye before we left to our next destination: a shop where they make things out of silver.

I didn’t really understand much due to the guide’s thick accent–a recurring problem that we faced throughout the day. However we got to watch the workers making necklaces, containers, and all sorts of really cool things.

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Then they took us to the shop to peruse their merchandise. I was pretty certain that nothing here would interest me. Then towards the very end, I walked by a stand with a bunch of rings. One of the salesladies asked if I wanted to see the rings and I kindly waved her off, saying, “I don’t like rings.”

Literally as soon as I said the word “rings,” I saw this beauty. It was love at first sight. The woman wanted $50 for it, but I just couldn’t justify spending that much money after buying the tattoo needle. I tried, though. I tried really hard–for about 15-20 minutes. Finally, I decided to flex a muscle I rarely use when travelling–will power–and opted not to buy it–but only because I knew I’d find an identical ring in another market for a much cheaper price. And obviously, that’s exactly what happened.

After a visit to this pagoda…

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…and lunch with this beautiful background…

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we hit up a boat and cigarette making workshop.

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Nok made a friend. He/She even came to see us off when we got back in the boat.

I believe the guy said a boat like this costs somewhere around $200 and takes about a month to build from start to finish. It can seat ten people.

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Finally, it was Nok’s turn to spend some money. She bought herself a nice little scarf at the next workshop. Some of the scarves there cost hundreds of dollars, but they were really beautiful. And the ladies who make them put their blood, sweat, and tears into them! They work from 8 am – 5 pm everyday on these machines. It didn’t matter how long I watched, I just couldn’t figure out how the contraption works. All I know is that some of those people were going so fast it sounded like Mr. Al MacInnis himself was taking slapshots at an endless line of pucks.

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Our last workshop for the day was a blacksmith. They made gongs, swords, knives, tattoo needles, and a bunch of other cool stuff. We saw some guys hammering away at a blade. Jo bought himself a cool bell-shaped gong that will hopefully be featured on his next album.

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The last stop for the day was this beautiful monastery on stilts, where we witnessed a cat poop right on the prayer area. That’s definitely not something you see every day.

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Other random highlights…to quote Doc from Back to the Future, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

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Finally, we arrived at our home for the evening. We arrived in paradise. I felt like a freakin movie star! Plus, we got upgraded to these swanky rooms for no apparent reason. Nok thinks it’s because the AC wasn’t working in the rooms we were supposed to get. Score for us! A guy could get used to this kind of life.

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Well, except for that giant spider I saw on my balcony the following morning…that wasn’t so cool…

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