MINGALABA FROM MYANMAR: THIS IS WHAT I KNOW ABOUT MYANMAR (BURMA) so far: Myanmar is a whole lot like Bali, but without the “Bali.” You look at the horizon, you see mountains (not as high as Bali). You walk out of your bungalow, you see spiritual stuff (not as prevalent as Bali but some, remarkably similar, especially the gods with teeth and snarling lips). You walk into a local café for a cup of brew, you see café stuff (not quite as cool as Bali). You wander through a village and feel as though you’ve traveled back in time (not as Bali as Bali). You wander down a dirt path wondering where you might end up, and you discover a party of Pa-O tribe people (dark blue robes and bright red headgear) walking back to their flatbed truck after they’ve all taken a group “leak” break in the tall bushes beside the road (exactly like Bali).
And here, around Inle Lake in the eastern Shan state of Myanmar—things are even more so.
You canoe out onto the lake, you see fishermen fishing.
You cruise into the nearby village, you see village stuff. Here, a village may be built on stilts over the lake.
You wander into a neighborhood, you see people doing neighborhood stuff. Here, doing “yard work” might necessitate rowing a boat.
You wander into the agricultural area, and you see farmers growing crops. Here, the crop fields float on the lake. Quite literally—these are “floating gardens.”
You wander a bit further, you see local children trying to take a shortcut home. You can hear their mother now: “I’ve told you a thousand times, don’t cut through Myamtah’s yard.”
You wander into another village on dry land—same stuff: brahma bulls pawing the ground, wooden-wheel oxcarts, bamboo homes with thatch roofs and flattened bamboo walls.
You wander a little further afield, and you see men—children, really—working the fields, bringing home the bacon…er…grass.
You pass a bit of jungle. You see some kind of animal you’ve never seen before—small, dark brown, furry, eyes like blue fire, fast as a rat with a fat tail. Probably a feral Burmese cat. You see trees with unknown names and vines. You see thickets of bamboo.
You see fields lying fallow, waiting. Beyond, you see a line of banana trees with no bananas, a forest of teak waiting to be made into flat-bottom boats, and a serrated horizon of mountains surrounding the whole lake area.
Just before sunset, you see men driving home from a day in the fields. Here, it’s sugar cane: either for pressing into a fine, sweet drink, or refining into raw sugar. In this part of the world, you might notice a dog walking in the shade under the local transport.
Disappointment du jour: I didn’t take enough dollars with me on the boat trip on the lake to purchase a scarf made of—get this—lotus stalk thread for my daughter. More later about why lotus thread is more, way more, expensive than silk.
Miracle du jour: the hotel said there was no wifi in the bungalows, only in the lobby. However, I have wifi in my room (but VERY slow, cumbersome, and faulty). And I have a desk next to a window and a view of the pond right there. How does anyone get through a day without at least one miracle is what I want to know.
Lesson learned du jour: Pee before getting into a boat for a trip around Inle Lake.
You can find other entries in Lucile’s Photo Rehab here: Lucile’s