Bank needed desperately and on the way we were stopped by a man in a traditional throng, and a Myanmar sports zip up who said, do you need a boat? As a matter of fact we do. 200000 for the boat and i preferred to keep it simple and rent the whole thing. The boat trip is the thing to do and i don't expect to be back soon, so best to do it right once rather than wish you did so the first chance you got. "Lucky money?" he asked. I only had 3,000 and he got all of it. I got his card and our 8am pick up from the hotel was secured. At least i hoped so.
Crank the engine, the 17,000 was still in my pocket and i guess i pay later. The channel out to the actually lake is busy chauffeur
people and goods from the stilted hamlets on the lake to the markets in town. 15 minutes. "Welcome to Inle Lake."
Canal opening were "photo" fisherman and hey posed. I took the shot and new damn well that i shouldn’t have. They row over and ask for 1,000 kyat. They got 500.
Lake opens up and there are real fisherman galore. Rowing with their leg elegantly balanced on the end of one side of the boat stringing out the nets or wrangling them in. Wind was cold and the blankets were warm in the rattan chairs.
Veer right into a canal. Tomatoes are grown on island vineyards. The lake is shallow and extra shallow now in the drought. The stilted houses have extra-long legs.
Back in the boat, the narrow wooden vessel with its clamoring outboard motor pushes further up in the canals. All the towns have names, and have welcoming plaques on wooden poles as you enter. There are mini damns that form a central current that the boat plows up making a splash. Not more than a foot to spare on either side of the 30 foot long boat. Skillful driver for the time being.
Out of the temple, flip flops on, the boat driver was resting in the sun on the boat floor. A friendly hello and his head was up. Dazed he was and he leans over the side of the boat to was his face in the muddy water and swish his mouth out. Hands and arms... cool. Face, i don't see a big problem, but in your mouth is not doctor recommended. He stands and falls. He is obviously drunk. Where he boozed up i don't know. Must have taken some shots of local moonshine somewhere and it took an hour or more to take full effect.
He wobbles to the back of the rear of the boat and falls again. Usually he helped us in, but this time that was up to me this time. Turning the hand crank motor over he ate shit again. Sorry, he yelled out. Honestly i wasn't worried about my safety and I could imagine that an older boatmen pressured him into one more swig that he really didn't need. The engine was started and he was back in rhythm.
Outside for a cool beverage is was by guess nearing 4 and time to end our lake tour. In the boat there was no boatman. He couldn’t have stumbled far and this time he had found a bit of shade. In the corner amongst windswept garbage he lay passed out. It was decided to let him sleep off a little of his drink, and thus shade was found to take a rest ourselves. 45 minutes later it was time to get him up, and i called over another boatman to deal with that task. Our guys head was up, then down. The guy said another 30 minutes, and then asked do you need to go back tonight? Do you have reservations for transportation to leave the lake? I replied with a stern, yes we have plans for the evening.
15 minutes later our boatman was up and seemed a little more stable. He apologized, and i accepted. I hold no grudge and actually enjoy that he got a little tipsy. What is an hour on holiday? The 45 minute ride back included no capsize, no crashes, and all was well. He didn't get a tip. Actually i let Xinxin deal with it as i knew tip is not even entered her conscious. Admiringly i feel a little bad when i don't give a tip in the tourist industry. Still have bits of American in me i guess.