The next morning we were up nice and early again to make our way to Inle Lake in the Shan State of Myanmar.
The road from Yangon to Mandalay was in pretty good shape, this one was not, most of the road was completely washed out in many places and was steep and winding as it climbed into the mountains to Inle Lake. The Shan state houses many of the rebel groups and is heavily mined and restricted to foreign travelers.
Apparently the most aggressive, is a group of rebel Shan Women.
Like in many third world countries domestic abuse is high, but unless you want to wake up in the morning as a eunuch, you wont touch your wife in the Shan State. They protect their own and are one of the few rebel groups that continue to have expanding borders against the government on the land they control.
After getting there after sunset and a quick dinner of more oily Burmese cuisine we went to bed early. The next morning, surprise, surprise, was early as we went to our boat to see the local villages get going for the day.
Inle lake is Myanmars version of Venice, just bigger and with very little built on actual land.
Most of the homes and businesses are built on stilts and there are many villages some having populations exceeding 20,000. They are also famous of the leg paddling, which the person on the back of the boat balances on one foot while the other leg curls around the oar to paddle. I am sure the learning curve is high, but we saw people for 5 years old on up paddling their boats this way. The most interesting thing about the lake was not any one structure but instead the culture and how these people choose to continue to live this way. Seems like an odd and difficult lifestyle choice but I’ve seen worse.
There was a festival going on and that afternoon we were able to see the procession of leg paddling locals drag some holy relic from one village to another. It was like a traditional parade, but instead of people sitting on the street side, they were hanging out of windows, sitting on there docks, or in boats watching the line of rowers go by.
We found a great little restaurant for dinner, where we had fresh pesto and gnocchi, which was impressively good and a nice break from Myanmar Cuisine.
To be honest none of us are sure if the food was any good at all but the rest of the food in Myanmar was just so bad. Most dishes were just a bowl of oil with a little bit of chicken cartilage, bone, and a little bit meat, with whatever seasoning you want, served, upon request, with white rice.
I tried fried noodles, fried rice, curry dishes, fish dishes, all with the same amount of oil, poured like gravy, over everything. Without a doubt the worst meals I had in South East Asia. I don’t think the locals liked it either as their diet consisted mostly of Myanmar Beer and Betel Nut.