- 1 - Real and Fake Leg Rowing Fishermen on Inle Lake
- 2 - Village Life on Inle Lake…Yes, it Includes Souvenir Shops
- 3 - Inle’s Floating Gardens and some Buddhist Hypocrisy
After puttering down the lake for a while, we eventually arrived at the village of Ywama to visit a local market. Our driver parked our boat and dropped us off at a long, covered walkway lined with makeshift stalls manned by local vendors. The vendors might have been local, but the market was not. It clearly existed almost solely for our benefit. Luckily, you could continue past the covered area and deeper into town, where touristy knickknacks gave way to fruits and vegetables.
This area was much smaller, but it was the only part of the market frequented by local shoppers and thus much more interesting. Nevertheless, after some of the incredible markets I’d seen elsewhere in Myanmar, this one was definitely disappointing. Luckily, we hadn’t come to the lake to see markets and we did end up seeing all the things we wanted to see, so the day was definitely not wasted.
Before seeing anything of interest, we had a jewelry shop to visit. It was the first shop on our tour. It specialized in silver and you could watch a craftsman make jewelry live, but I have to admit, this didn’t interest me at all. I left the two girls behind and walked around the village for a bit to take photos.
When I got back to the shop, I learned from our driver that the girls had left shortly after I had. One of them returned soon after, but the other one had apparently gotten lost. We ended up waiting a long time for her and our driver started to get a bit agitated over the impact on his schedule.
When we did finally get going again, we headed to a floating village. This was the main reason I wanted to get out on the lake and we spent the next thirty minutes or so drifting down roads of water between rows of teak houses perched above the lake on stilts. Laundry hung out to dry on uneven decks, children peered out from small windows and boat traffic flowed around us as local residents left their homes to run errands. I snapped well over a hundred photos.
We made a few stops in this town as well. Our first was a clothing factory, where we watched locals create thread from silk and then weave it into beautiful textiles. Naturally, we had the opportunity to buy some of these textiles, but we passed. Then our drivers took us to a cigar factory where we watched a couple of girls hand-roll tobacco inside some kind of leaf. We got a chance to buy some cigars, too, but none of us smoked so we passed on that as well.
After the two factory/shop stops, it was time for lunch. This was my other reason for hiring a boat: freshly caught lake fish with vegetables grown in the area’s floating gardens. I have no idea what I ordered exactly, but I remember it had a lot of ginger and garlic and it tasted great. I was never really one to take photos of my food, so I don’t even remember what it looked like. I did take other photos during lunch, though. This was the view from the restaurant.
That is the Phaung Daw Oo temple complex and naturally, we had to visit after lunch. Like anywhere in Myanmar, the entrance fee to the temple is dwarfed by the camera fee, so I stuck mine in my backpack and didn’t take any pictures from inside. There wasn’t really all that much to see anyway. I’ve mentioned it before, but after a while, all temples end up looking the same inside and it’s really just the outsides that differ. And those don’t generally differ all that much either.
Continued in part 3: Inle’s Floating Gardens and some Buddhist Hypocrisy
My travel guide for this area has some information on Inle Lake that might actually be useful.