Hiking to Inle Lake – day two
We had a very early start as the aim was to arrive at one end of Inle lake by lunchtime so we could explore the lake by boat in the afternoon and we had quite a few miles to cover. The landscape was beautiful in the morning we caught the end of the sunrise and then the whole area around us was heavy with mist probably from the reaction of the cold evening with the warm earth. We were quite high up so were above the mist level it was all quite magical.
As we walked the mist slowly dispersed and gave way to bright lush views across the valleys and exposed beautiful undulating scenery all around. It started to heat up very quickly and as we were heading essentially down hill for most of the day it got warmer and warmer which was another reason to use the earliest part of the day to walk. It was great having Cam our guide with us as he was so knowledgeable about the countryside around us. He was full of information about all the plant life and the insects and animals we encountered along the way, we learnt so much!
These were the first two examples of wildlife we encountered…a very nosey pig who was stuck in a shed but really wanted to join us and a beetle of some kind who was one of several taking shelter on the same plant.
The next thing we walked past was this launch site for a rocket which is part of an annual rocket launching competition to see who could get their rocket to go the furthest. Cam was a bit impressed I think that we knew what it was, and that was only really because we had watched a documentary on Myanmar when we were planning the trip! Teri and I were a little over excited to actually stumble across one. Next we encountered cows. First of all these two gently meandering through the countryside and then a whole herd being a little bit more playful and boisterous and one in particular got a little over amorous so we kept right out of the way! Incidentally the clouds/mist in the distance of the first picture is Inle lake but at this stage we were still high above the valley so all we could see was the clouds.
Cam told us that a fully grown cow was worth about $500 so we all concluded whoever owned these was a millionaire as the herd stretched for quite a long distance. Next I had an encounter with a large dung beetle who was stuck on his back and couldn’t flip over by himself his little legs were going mad in an attempt to move. I tried a number of times to get him the right way up but each time he flipped himself back over pretty much immediately. Eventually we got him sorted and off on his way. The dog below followed us for pretty much all of our journey she was beautiful and I named her foxy as she looked like she had some fox genes in her. I have two dogs at home so particularly loved the fact that she attached herself to us.
Along the way we saw some wonderfully old trees full of personality I would love to be able to ask them what they have seen pass by during all their years of standing there.
For quite a distance the earth was a vibrant terracotta colour and looked very rich and fertile. When the rainy season comes so much water appears quickly that there are all sorts of systems in place to catch and direct the rain fall so that as much of the water is used and not lost. We came across many channels dug into the earth creating a fascinating irrigation system and a whole range of dam like structures. Cam explained to us that they were more about filtering the water as it ran down the hillside to get rid of all the debris that had collected along the way so that the end result would be clean fresh water.
As we descended into the valley the earth changed colour and became more sandy the plant life got greener and more luscious and the temperature rose. Cam continued to impress us with facts about the land and plants and he picked flowers for us to wear. We began to see houses and temples and people so we knew we were close to our final destination.
We were becoming aware of more and more areas of water and the stunning reflections that came with them. This is clearly a very fertile area and provides a living for many people from farming produce to catching fish and boat building.
It was interesting to see many piles of huge bamboo poles prepared ready for building purposes. All of the houses in this area are built on stilts so they won’t be effected by any change in water level and I suspect in the rainy season that can be quite significant.
Finally we reached our end point and were presented with this delicious meal. Rice, egg, peanut sauce, stir fried morning glory and tea leaf salad. We had tasted tea leaf salad in Yangon and found it incredibly bitter but this one was just right. The balance of the bitter tea leaves with the other ingredients (chickpeas, red pepper and pomegranate I think) worked very well and was very welcome. We rested out of the way of the midday sun and let our legs recover before the next bit of adventure began.