Friday, December 22, 2017

water world

Inle Lake (also written Inlay Lake) is a UNESCO biosphere project. It's a freshwater lake less than an hour's drive from Kalaw, where we were hiking, but it feels a world away.
You can rent a long tail boat for about $15 for 5 hours. It's a great way to unwind and take in the mountains and scenery.
We weren't looking to shop, but our first stop was a workshop where they weave silk, cotton, and lotus threads.
 This boy is demonstrating how you get threads from a lotus stalk. It was fascinating.
The threads are then spun and woven on a loom. The traditional Shan colors are vibrant.
All the weavers are women. Of course we couldn't leave without a few souvenirs.

We ate lunch by Phaung Daw U pagoda, one of the country's holiest shrines. Inside, on a platform where women are not allowed, are what appear to be 5 golden cakes. They are actually Buddha figures that have been covered in gold leaf by visiting pilgrims. The entrance is a big mall with stores selling elephant pants, scarves, messenger bags, and swords.
We liked this golden chicken, part of a boat that ferries the Buddhas around on the full moon in September.

The communities we visited live on the lake. They have electricity and satellite dishes. 
A lot have hanging orchids and other container gardening.
They farm in the lake, growing hydroponic tomatoes and many greens.
The bamboo poles attract greenery.
While many residents and fishermen have long tail boats with lawnmower engines, others have old fashioned dugout canoes.

The floating monastery is notable mostly for its location in the middle of the lake. It is famous for the jumping cats, but the monk who trained them died, and now there are just hungry cats.
An old video with the cats.

After the monastery, we headed back for sunset and were treated to a real sun salutation by a graceful fisherman.

Inle fishermen are famous for paddling their canoes with one barefooted leg. It's quite something to see.

At sunset, they pose for the tourists. We were grateful to have such cooperative models up close.

So graceful. 
Impossibly beautiful.

 Not a bad way to spend a day.

Good night.

Postscript: an unlikely Louis Vuitton poster at the monastery commemorates the fisherman.