Leaving Bagan, we were now arrived at Inle with a totally different settings. We were taken from the airport to the hotel by a small van which were only enough for eight of us. I did not understand this was because of transportation in the area until we got through some small roads. Inle is covered in green and reddish brown, green for plantations and red of the richness of iron in the soil. We saw many small villages along the road. There were more than 5000 villages in total and each of them has a ministry.
After arriving at the lake, we divided into 2 smaller groups to travel by boats to the hotel. It was once of the lifetime experience. After all I have seen at other areas in Myanmar, I have never thought that it could get more beautiful than what I saw at Inle. Our hotel is located in a private, peaceful area where they have lotus along the side and hotel huts lining up around the mountain. We were all really excited to set our stuffs down and ready to explore Inle.
We first had lunch then headed to visit a cigar making place close to the restaurant. All the cigarettes were hand made by natural leaves and other parts of the trees to stick them together. It was just really interesting to see how skilled the people here were at making cigarettes and how creative they were to make them with different tastes like mint, honey, etc.
After that we went to visit some other villages where they make cotton, lotus silk, the long neck family, and shan paper making. It was all my first time experience for something like this. People here make silk out of lotus by taking little skinny fibers inside the plants and weave them together. It takes more than 5000 plants to produce 1 scarf so the price of lotus- made clothing here is a lot more expensive than silk. It could cost up to $300 for a lotus scarf but it does reflect how much effort and use of plants people put into weaving one. For the long neck family, I have heard a lot of them before through readings but actual contact and holdings of what they have to carry on their necks their whole life was unexpectedly surprising. It was really heavy even to hold. They did not seem very happy with the life they are living and their cultures though the tour guide said they were, especially the young generation of the family.
The living here is very simple, which reminded me of Vietnam about more than 10 years ago where it was still difficult to reach someone outside of my area. I am so glad to be able to get to see this of Myanmar now as a before picture before it gets industrialized.