February 10, 2010

Burma Learning Tour: 19 January 2010

We’re sailing across Inle Lake in a motor boat, but I wanted to write something down about the PaLong Village. The UN sold them adobe stoves for 500 kyats and when they break they don’t know how to fix them because they don’t work with adobe. The stove doesn’t funnel out the smoke anywhere. Plus it’s not duel function. At night they like to sit around the warm fire together and this doesn’t provide that.

David said this morning he’s leaving $1500 – to split among 3 villages for sewing machines and such.

We just went to the monastery with the jumping cats. The monks aren’t allowed to train them anymore – but a family does. These cats were much heavier than the cats in other parts of Burma, for obvious reasons.

Inle Lake is a very touristy area and I hate that. We went to the 5-day market and people attacked us as we passed. I hate that kind of shopping. I don’t know what I would want my life to be a constant tourist attraction. Hopefully, we’ll get to speak with some individuals today – about their life.

We visited a Blacksmiths' shop and saw them working on metal tools. It was amazing and their so in tune to what they're doing. I took some footage of that, too, because it's so crazy to see and hear!

What does Lucky Money mean?

It’s odd to say – but I don’t like seeing other white people. Mainly because it means we’re in a tourist area or a tourist hotspot.

Inle Lake reminds me of a shore front property in Myrtle Beach because of all the houses on stilts. Their only mode of transportation are boats. They walk out their front door and fall into the lake. Their yard is water. They even farm in boats. All of their gardens are floating gardens – they grew tomatoes. 30% of the tomatoes grown in Burma come from Inle Lake.

We just went to the silk weaving village in Paw Khon. Moe said that they go to school until about 14 or 15. Then they begin an apprenticeship. It takes about 2 years before they become full-time or professional. Then they’ll continue for the rest of their life. We saw a handful of old men and women working – transferring the silk onto spools. I bought Dad a tie and mom a silk purple scarf. Moe said that make about $2-7 a day and also earn some money from the sale of the products. It takes about two weeks to make a piece of fabric 2 feet by 1 foot.

Everyone bathes in the rivers. There aren’t many bathtubs. I saw a woman bathing three feet away from a water buffalo and then her son was swimming along a few feet ahead of the buffalo.



We went to see the Angkor Wat ruins and there were a lot of vendors trying to sell us stuff, just like they had done at the market. It was all the same stuff There were children that followed us into the ruins with bags slung over their shoulders. When we started walking and Moe stopped talking – they’d run up alongside us with the frogs and rub their wooden bodies with sticks – saying things like “One!” or “Lucky Money!” – things like that.

As we were coming out of the ruins – there were three children. Two were about seven or nine. They followed us for a bit. But this two year old that was with them ran up to us with little bean pods and shook them together to make noise. He had the same technique they had – except he wasn’t speaking English. He ran alongside us if one of us wasn’t going to buy them then he’d move to the next. Monkey see, Monkey do. I guess. He went through about six of us, before trailing back.

The government won’t fund the renovation of the Pagoda ruins. So – donors now have to donate to have them renovated. Moe said that they believe in merits and want to earn the merits. This idea is very different from Christianity he explained. The ruins are about 1700 years old – built around 300 BC. No more have been built in that area because these are supposed to last 5000 years. Each Buddha is supposed to reign for that long or it represents one – or something like that.

The UN archaeology society came in and fixed one, but the Buddhists don’t like it because they want them to be gilded and golden, Buddhism is confusing to me.

Pagoda means any religious relic or place. No matter if it’s a temple or stupas or a monastery even.

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