So we get to Inle Lake at 3AM this time, and there is no sunrise pagoda for us to go to, so we end up at our hotel (we hadn’t even booked it for that night, it was for the next night). But the cab driver just made loud noises until someone came and let us in. This was another beautiful night’s sleep. Though, this new place didn’t have air con. It was called the Inle Apex Hotel, and was built less than a year ago. As was much of Nyuang Shwe where we were staying. Tourism was doing real things to this place.
So we’re up early in the morning because this place has breakfast.
The Plan For The Day Is Bikes
I actually like biking, so at first I’m having a dandy time! And the countryside is spectacular and we have enough bread and peanut butter to sustain ourselves.
Our first stop is to hike up these steps to get to this lovely pagoda way at the top of the hill. I’m pretty out of shape, but the view is awesome. Inle Lake is huge. I mean, it’s no Lake Superior, but it could def hold its ground with Lake Minnetonka. (Minnesotans? Eh?)
And we’re biking, and slowly and steadily it is getting hotter. We left (unfortunately) at about 10, and even though Inle Lake is considerably cooler than its desert neighbor of Bagan, the mid day heat was draining my energy and by 2 I was getting short with everyone. And we were still going!
We slept for a bit in this pagoda and woke to a class being taught about conservation. The teacher was overjoyed to explain it to us, but we were less than overjoyed to speak to him because he was unfortunately one of the many Burmese who chew this terrible red plant. I don’t know what it is, but the concept if similar to chew in the states, with some kind of tobacco/alcohol mix coming from these leaves. That’s all fine and dandy, but the terrible thing is that it turns your whole teeth red! All these Burmese people have like nasty red teeth and when they spit this shit out it looks like blood. It is seriously disgusting and the smell kind of makes me nauseous.
We start back about 4 in the afternoon, it’s still boiling and I’m just thinking “Just make it home, please“. So I am not stopping. I’m fast peddling through the country, determined not to get too tired before we get home. Feeling a bit like Dorothy Gale at that point.
So we get home, pass out. Get chinese and call it a freaking night!
Next day, we decide to go a bit easier and take a boat tour. Well, this boat tour is supposed to be 6 hours, but we get on the boat, and it’s boiling and we start to think…what if we’re never going to stop and we’re just going to sit in this boiling hot for 6 hours!
But we don’t! Sorry to ruin the suspense. But we get to this floating village/ village on stilts and eat out over the water. Then we set off into the canals. There is actually a lot of stops, but that doesn’t keep us out of the hot sun and we were all brown after this day. We saw where they made lotus string and all these expensive silk garments and then a silverware place. We stopped at some temples and monasteries on the water as well. Of course, we didn’t really have enough money to spurge on $30 scarves and shirts so we left the whole thing empty handed souvenir-wise.
Oh, except for these sweet cigars that they were selling that were wrapped in leaves and tasted like honey. The woman selling them was a crack-up so obviously we had to get some. She thought Emilie was like 35 and Lenny was even older.
They actually grow foods out in the middle of the lake! Tomatoes! And they paddle the boat with their feet so they can use their hands to get the fishing nets up and then they work in pairs to heard the fish into nets by smacking the water and scaring them. A burmese guy later said that they saw their in-laws in the water and wanted to smack them. Classic Burmese humor.
That night we were actually all kind of grumpy at dinner and my attempt to get everyone in a better mood worked because then they started teasing me! And then the man brought us fried noodle but we ordered fried rice! And it was hilarious because he would not accept that we didn’t order noodles.
“No, we ordered fried rice”
“Fried rice! ”
And finally he stomped off, pissed, and later brought back rice.This night we actually decided to go out exploring the city and after finding out that we were merely one street away from the happening area. (‘Happening’ being a relative word, folks. This wasn’t Changkat Bukit Bintang or anything ;))
But we found a Roller Rink!
There were a bunch of Burmese teenage boys there and then me skating around in a skit and plastic bags on my feet instead of socks because I was wearing flip flops and like hell if I was going to put my bare feet in those nasty skates.
The funniest part was that while I was putting my skates on Taylor Swift started playing and I was singing along, obviously. The guy working was like “do you like Taylor Swift?” And I was like “Yeah, kinda” Like, I wasn’t going go into depth about my feelings about Taylor Swift. But then he proceeded to put on (I assume) every Taylor Swift song in their library, I’m assuming for my benefit.
So we were roller blading in Myanmar to Taylor Swift songs.
I think it was a good night.
And I Wake Up to More Exercise!
Today we planned a trekking trip and we woke to another breakfast and then met our guide who was like one-armed Burmese guy. He spoke english super well and the ‘trek’ was more of a tour of the countryside.
We climbed around in a cave, which was exciting for Lenny because he loves caving, and he told us many times. The guide was giddy to climb around with Lenny. They got super dirty.
Then we walked through a village and stopped at a school and got to hang out a bit with the school children. Lenny was teaching them English and in was actually adorable. Though, they never did get the word ‘marker’ down properly.
I was obviously an embarrassing American, because our guide would occasionally point at a plant growing on a tree and be like: “What is that?” And I distinctly remember one time going “Jack fruit!” And the guide just starts cracking up like it’s the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard. I’m just standing, arm crossed, like “Well, how was I supposed to know?”
And the last stop on the tour was a winery. Oh boy! Except the few wines we got to taste, we had to pay to taste, and they were not the best. I guess I’ve never heard of anyone shelling out for wine from Myanmar.
I was tired after that day, and we got some lunch and then waited to get picked up for our next bus. This was when Emilie was leaving us! She had to go back to “study” for finals and Lenny and I decided to spend our last couple days in Mandalay. We had been talking to the kiwi guys earlier about it and decided it should be a cool place to check out.
So Emilie got on her VIP bus, and Lenny and I got on ours (which came equipped with food service and onboard entertainment). But we were passed out and didn’t even mind.