Sunday, January 15, 2017

Our final day at Inle Lake

We were up in plenty of time to catch the sunrise this morning

Sunrise over Inle Lake

Sunrise over Inle Lake

Sunrise over Inle Lake

Although this was the day for us to head to the airport in early afternoon to fly to Yangon, we decided to spending try a visit to the market-of-the day, being held in the nearby village of Nam Pad.  And what a difference; this was a huge market!  We arrived shortly after 9 AM and boats were jamming the harbor between two spits of land that appeared to have been reclaimed b§y dumping dirt out into the lake. 

There was a separate boat parking area for the  sellers bringing in their wares and for local residents in the market for household shopping

Boat Parking for Nam Pad Market, Inle Lake

And those spits just held stalls aimed at selling souvenirs to the tourists. 

Market Stalls aimed at Tourists, Nam Pad, Inle Lake

When we reached the dry land at the town end of the spit on which we had landed, there was a lumber yard with bunches of bamboo poles that were being measured for sale

Bamboo poles being measured for cutting, Nam Pad Market, Inle Lake

Lumber Yard, Nam Pad Market, Inle Lake

and a mass of several hundred stalls, patronized by perhaps two or three thousand shoppers – although the stalls closest to the water included many that appealed to tourists, there was a long line of fish sellers along the water as well.

Some fish was sold by the bunch,

Fish sole by the bunch, Nam Pad Market, Inle Lake

but some was sold by weight

Scale to measure weight of fish, Nam Pad Market, Inle Lake

Fish cleaning service was also available

And diving into the market we found sellers of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, varouls ready-to-eat foods, household goods, clothing for ordinary people

Cauliflower for sale, Nam Pad Market, Inle Lake

Eggs for sale, Nam Pad Market, Inle Lake

Vegetables for sale, Nam Pad Market, Inle Lake

Flowers and root vegetables for sale, Nam Pad Market, Inle Lake

Sweets for sale, Nam Pad Market, Inle Lake
even a hardware store

I encountered this game of ‘billiards,” in which men slide disks on a board so knock other disks in side and corner holes

After nearly two hours of wandering, we headed back to the boat and Kyauk took us to lunch at the Royal Palace restaurant.  The place was empty when we arrived (early for lunch to be sure); some young women were doing their laundry and swimming by the side.

 It was another terrific lunch: we had tea leaf salad and local fish prepared two different ways. The  roasted fish (which came with a tasty sauce) was fine, but the Traditional grilled fish was exceptional – it was slathered with a rich and spicy sauce and then wrapped in aluminum foil that was placed on the grill. 

We liked it so much that we asked for the recipe.

We chatted with the server, whose English was about the best we had heard since getting to the area, ans learned a bit more about the lake.  As we had surmised, the lake was at its lowest because we were there during dry season, but the extent of the difference was a bit of a surprise:  during the wet season, the lake could be as much as a meter and a half deeper (basically, the height of our server).  Thus, much of the dry land we had seen, such as the spits on which part of the Nam Pad market was being held, would be underwater in the wet season.  And this explained why so many houses and other buildings in the area were on such tall stilts

When we had arrived at the Royal Palace, we were the only diners, but as noon approached, the place began to fill up, and the women who had been swimming and washing when we arrived were now fully dressed as wait staff.  We headed back to our “floating” hotel, claimed our bags, and thus began our trek back to the Heho airport.  This began with a long boatride with Kyauk

ten minutes through the channel leading from the hotel to the main body of the lake, 25 minutes through open water, then another fifteen minutes in the channels leading to Nyaung Shwe. Then an hour in the very same taxi that had picked us up two days before; the drive was especially slow because we got caught behind some pokey trucks and tractors.  For a change, our flight on KBZ Air (the local carrier for Myanmar International Airlines) was not late at all.  We boarded last of the propeller planes on which we took our flights within Myanmar

and I recognized the crew as being the same flight attendants who had been on our place from Nyaung U to Heho.

We had arranged with our Yangon Hotel, the Alamanda, to be picked up at the airport.  The driver drove aggressively in the awful Yangon traffic: when the road out of the airport was jammed, he doubled back and took us to the hotel through a number of back alleys as well as crowded streets in working class neighborhoods, where the market and street food vendors were jumping.  Even some of rhe back alleys were congested because other drivers, it seemed, had the same idea about ducking through back alleys. 

It was dark by the time we arrived at the hotel.  We checked in, and tried to pay the bill for the hotel immediately, using a credit card.  No, said the clerk, we can’t take VISA card, and when we tried to pay with our Mastercard, it did not go through.  This was a bit disturbing, because we had barely enough dollars left to pay for the hotel, and I had been having problems getting my ATM card accepted the last few times I had used it.  We resolved to find a bank in downtown Yangon the following day to get more money.  It was even later by this time, and Nancy was not up for an adventure into finding an interesting meal of Myanmar food. The hotel’s restaurant served French food, so that is what we had. § My pork carbonnade was excellent, as was the “pear belle helene” for dessert.  I tried to pay with dollars for the meal but each of the twenty dollar bills I offered was less the perfect: one showed past folds, and another had some stray ink on it.   Apparently, only perfect and pristine American bills would be accepted in Myanmar (but the kyat bills can be very grungy and still be accepted).  SO, we put the meal on the room and augmented the cash flow problem that we would have to solve the following day.

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