Anthony and Erica on the road to Mandalay 2006 travel blog

Leg-rowing fisherman on Inle Lake

Lotus garden

Reflections of lake house

Lakeside market

Lake pagoda

View from lunchspot

'Long-neck' girl

Indein village

Indein

Erica and stupas at Indein

Summit pagoda at Indein

Overgrown stupas at Indein

Flooded stupas

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

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Lakeside market

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Jumping Cat Monastery's jumping cat!


Myanmar - like so many countries - is a cultural mish-mash of dozens of different ethnic groups. We are now in the Shan area, which if nothing else has nicer food, though there are loads of different tribes in the hills round here, including one of those ones where the women put more and more rings around their neck. In Thailand at least, a lot of effort to stop this practice had been paying off, but tourism encouraged it to return. I imagine that is a factor here too.

We are often thinking that we're approaching temple fatigue, that it will get boring, but every day, sometimes several times a day, we are suprised and blown away by a new and different temple or pagoda. We have also apparently finalised our schedule for the rest of our time here, after considerable deliberation.

Today is boat-trip day. We have hired a long canoe with an outboard, a driver and a 'guide', who it turns out speaks little English. So early in the morning we all zoom off down the river to the lake proper. Here it is impossible to say where the lake ends and the land begins, as the lake is very shallow, the land is very wet indeed, and it is all mixed up in one big wetland. The big crop here is tomatoes, which are grown on floating gardens, tended by boat, and there are acres of these. They also do this thing where they make (expensive) clothes out of strands pulled from lotus stems. Almost as strange as this watery existence though is the way they can row with one leg, balanced on the end of a very unstable canoe. Hopefully the video clips in these pages capture it.

So generally we spend the whole day driving around, quite blown away by the look of the place and this complex water-based ecosystem, lifestyle and economy that seems to work so well. After some exploring, we 'land', if that is the right word for round here, and splash off to explore a temple and a seriously ethnic market, complete with drunk people. Luckily we manage not to fall in the mud. In the late afternoon we went to Indein, a village with a forest of atmospheric ruined stupas all round its main pagoda at the top of a hill covered in bamboo forests out of Crouching Tiger. And talking of Crouching Tiger, lastly we visit Jumping Cat Monastery, where we have the strange experience of watching cats jump through hoops - video attached. And then drive back across the lake as it gets dark, a long and fantastic day in this brilliant place.



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