We have spent the last two days trekking in the mountains on the east side of the lake, about 15 miles yesterday, perhaps 8 or 9 today. The pics may not be the best, but give a flavour of our time. As well as some good exercise we did feel we got much more of a sense of the rural areas, and how Burmese people lived, or at least than we had to that point. We had been told it wasn't allowed for foreigners to overnight on this side of the Lake, due to security concerns (i.e. foreigners talking to 'insurgents'), but we didn't encounter any problems, and culdn't tell who was an insurgent and who wan't anyway. Many Burmese speak a little English, but for the first time, our guide, Min-Min, spoke quite good English. A teaching student in his vacation break. And he did the entire walk in flip-flops!
So we walk from our hotel, carrying all we need - mostly water - out of town and up into the mountains, first to a little meditation cave for some green tea and papaya from the resident monk, and then to a bigger cave system, complete with monk, Nat shrine, and apparently pythons. Also Japanese soldiers hid there when the war ended. Then some proper uphill before going to someone's house for lunch. Our hostess got the special plates and cutlery out of the cupboard, unfortunately followed by a fat cockroach that hid under our table, and slightly spoiled the 'posh' effect.
More walking, and though it was hot, there was a lot of shade under the trees and giant bamboo. Good views down over the lake too. Then we get to the village where we are staying, a village mostly growing garlic and the light tobacco they make cheroots with. Off up the hill to a nearby monastery for the obligatory sunset that Burmese seem to think all foreigners live for (though it was a good view). And then back for the nicest meal we have had here, yum, yum! Lots of different stuff, all tasty. Slightly off-putting having a gaggle of children staring at us though, waiting for us to do something strange and foreign. After dinner we hung around in the kitchen with everyone while they all split garlic bulbs into individual cloves for planting. Very relaxed and happy, even though they do work all the time here.
Our bed was in the front room, and left a bit to be desired, blankets on mats and little privacy as it was the through-fare to the one other room where everyone else slept, and there was a lot of them. Things scurried around all night, we could hear the whole village snoring, and cockerels started shouting about 4.30, so we were a bit tired, but it was different. A house in a nearby village has a satellite dish, and acts as a sort of cinema. Dates of football matches are posted in all the nearby villages in case anyone is interested. It is strange to see a board with the names of English League teams on it in this remote Burmese village.
Huge breakfast, basic (i.e. none) washing facilities, and then off walking again. Very beautiful scenery as we walked along through the mountains; villages, huge bamboo, fields, hills, etc. A couple of green tea stops in people's houses and then down out of the mountains and back to the lake and a boat back home, a nice end to what was a great little trek. We will be sad to leave here, as Inle is fabulous. We had a last meal at our fave place, where the lizards that are always dropping off the ceilings nearly did end up in Erica's food this time. I had the camera ready, but was too slow. Though I nearly got the rat on its way out to the street (no joke).