Inle Lake

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After our three day hike, we knew we have arrived back to civilization as no one was clamoring for our empty water bottles anymore. Inle Lake is beautifully situated, flanked on three sides by mountains. It is very much alive, with villages on stilts lining the marshes surrounding the lake. People fish, grow vegetables in “floating gardens”, and go about their daily lives on the water.

Small boats and dugout canoes are everywhere. Men have developed a particular style of rowing, where the hold an oar with one hand and one leg, balancing on the remaining foot and using their free hand to tend to the nets. It is a beautiful sight to see this balancing act in a dugout canoe a few inches above the surface of the water.

There was a big earthquake in northern Burma. We were sitting in our hotel drinking a beer. I got up to use the restroom and when I returned, everyone was excited. “Did you feel the earthquake,” they asked me. I felt nothing. The gentle rolling motion of the earth and the hotel was strange when you were sitting down, but walking around, I missed it completely. We were a few hundred kilometers from the epicenter, so no damage was done where we were staying. I always wanted to feel the earth move beneath my feet, but I missed my opportunity because of a bathroom break.

Like elsewhere in Burma, there are many monasteries around Inle Lake. We took a trip in a boat around the lake and visited a few. At one of the monasteries, the monks were bored during their long breaks between food, sleep, and prayer, and they trained their cats to jump through hoops. It is now known as the jumping cat monastery and is one of the biggest attractions on Inle Lake.

The holiest shrine contains five small golden Buddhas. It is a custom in this country to apply gold leaf to Buddha statues. Here they went a bit overboard. The statues look like five golden snowmen.

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