On the night bus to reach the lake Inle I met 5 very nice deaf guys who have nicely accepted me in the group and I could spend the whole day with them.
I had never thought about how a deaf boy could travel, I had never identified with it, I had never even thought about it. Yet it’s so easy to use pen and paper! Sign language is international and if we all knew how to use it we would perhaps say less bullshit.
The bus arrived as usual in the middle of the night. Along the way from Bagan we also punctured a wheel and had to wait for the replacement bus. When I arrived at the hostel I had booked a long negotiation began for the organization of a boat tour on the lake.
We all set off together towards the river, we get on the boat in a single row, the air was cold and the further we went towards the lake the thicker the fog became.
The fishermen at Inle Lake are the main attraction. They fish with conical nets and row by twisting the leg to the oar.
Actually, there are things to say.
For example, that by now they are just a tourist attraction.
They see you coming from far away, they are there waiting. They come to meet you, they pose for photos to be taken, then they approach you… and ask you for money.
The real fishermen are further ahead, they fish with normal nets, some help themselves to row with their legs, others push the oar with their arms.
Before I go anywhere, I read a lot of blogs to get an idea. But how come nobody writes the truth? Everyone who writes and tells about this fantastic experience with fishermen, but how can it be if it’s all unnatural and they’re just models?
Probably those nets were once used, but now for what I’ve seen, not anymore.
The boat trip continued through the floating vegetable gardens of tomatoes, grown in this way so incredible, but so ingenious!
After the pile-dwelling village the boat starts to stop in a lot of places. We discover some women spinning a fiber extracted from the lotus flower, creating very beautiful and expensive fabrics. Then we meet the women of the tribe with long necks, and some men who shape the iron, we meet women who sell cigars and cigarettes, shops that sell items made of bamboo, silver bracelets and rings, silk scarves.
Everyone was taking pictures with the woman with the long rings around her neck, who very probably sat on a bench and did her job, precisely getting her picture taken. I didn’t feel like it. We stayed looking each other in the eyes for a few minutes, without telling each other anything. What she passed on to me was boredom and obligation in having to do a job that would lead her to be considered “strange” and then photographed in its nature. Instead, I photographed her colleagues who were spinning and I left immediately.
After a short stop at Phaung Daw Oo pagoda we go back home.
The thing I liked the most (apart from discovering that you can create clothes with lotus flowers) was the discovery of a particular snack that they obviously produce by hand, they told me only at Inle Lake.
They look like fonzies, a little darker. But they are simply dried yellow peas, crushed in a mortar, emulsified with a little water and fried in oil. Offered by the lady of the bamboo shop, they were completely devoured and as soon as I arrived on land I bought a nice package. They also make them from corn, but they are less good.
The tour was nice, nothing special if you have already been in other floating villages, a bit touristy for my taste, I would probably do it again just to discover those fantastic fonzies.
My new friends leave as soon as the boat tour is over, with another night bus, but I stay one night, I want to visit the surroundings.
The next day with the free bike that the hostel offers I head to the west of the lake. On the little road that leads me to the panoramic point I meet small villages, vegetable gardens, sunflower fields, small shops full of dust. Until I find a sign indicating tofu cultivations and I enter the village.
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds stretched out in the sun to dry create colorful squares, the wood piled up next to the houses, the cocks cross the road fast and the kitchens at sight of the houses show giant black pots on the fire, I don’t see other tourists.
Some women invite me to enter the house, one is cooking some particular purple crepes, in another house someone is making tofu. It’s yellow, a bright yellow!
The sun is starting to come down and on my way home a green snake cuts me off! It almost enters my bike circles.
Happiness, nature, colors, these are the three words that come to mind when I think about these two days at Inle Lake.