On our third day in Myanmar, we arrived, early in the morning, to Inle Lake. Tuk Tuk drivers were waiting (daily I imagine) for the night buses to arrive and bring the newly arrived tourists to the local hotels. We were tired because it was 5 AM and so we settled for the first hotel we found - the Golden House Hotel. It was around 25 dollars a night. It wasn't the best hotel and its internet was atrocious. Later, while wandering, we discovered the Inle Inn, ate breakfast there (traditional Shan food), and loved the people and service. The prices were about the same so if anymore reading this goes to the Inle area, the Inle Inn is highly recommended (with working internet)! Anyways, to our trip!
On our one day in Inle, we wandered around the area, taking pictures of the locals, and a local school. The Inle Inn hooked us up with a boat man for the day so we could go out on the lake on a long boat. It was around 14 dollars for a day of boat taxi so why not? Anyways, this, as we didn't know at the time, meant that the boat would stop at numerous factories and shops on the lakes with people giving you a free tour in hopes of you buying things. The tourist industry has sucked up Inle sadly and so we were subjected to forced touristy things. We passed numerous fisherman, one in traditional dress (and begging for money afterwards), and a few legitimate fisherman using nets on stakes in the water.
Our first stop was at a jewelry shop/antique store run by one family. Liam talked them out of selling things to us and convinced them to paint our faces with the Burmese makeup instead.
Our second stop was to an antiques shop where the "longnecked" women are enslaved by the government. These women are forced to sit there daily and weave scarves to entertain tourists because of their interesting springs around their necks. Apparently the best way to support them (according to the lonely planet) is to buy the scarves they're making so I ended up buying three.
Our third stop was a restaurant on the water that had delicious food for extremely low prices - chicken cooked in banana leaves - nom. This restaurant was attached to a Burmese Cat Sanctuary. They were the most loving cats I've ever played with! I sat down to take some photos and they crawled on my backpack and one rested on my neck. They were a beautiful breed and apparently extremely expensive.
Then we got dragged by our boatman to a lotus weaving and scarf factory. Again, showing us the factory and then asking us to buy in a sort of "please please please buy from us" kind of way. The prices were insane, even for Western standards and thus, we refused.
Our last stop was a small monastery where they once had jumping cats and still advertise it as the jumping cat monastery - yet, the cats no longer jump. In reality, it was a monastery with people trying to sell you the same stuff over and over again. boooooooo. There were kittens, however.
Along the boat ride, strangely enough, children attached their boats to ours and gave us flowers for money (it wasn't really optional...). Sad that they're probably forced into begging. (One of them pictured to the right).
Anyways, the lake was beautiful, even during rainy season.
After the lake, we wanted to have a massage and so we wandered down a dark alley to a massage parlor near a puppet show building. Apparently the whole family massages you, even the three year old son. Unfortunately, they were closing at that time we arrive so we went to the evening puppet show around the corner. There is a thirty minute puppet show - possibly the only nightlife/entertainment in Inle. It was semi-amusing.