I got into Nyaung Shwe yesterday morning. The town sits near Inle (Inlay) Lake and seems to be tourist focused. There is a market in the center of town and some nice little places to eat. I found a great Indian restaurant and another shop nearby that sells great avocado smoothies.
Today I took a boat ride on the lake and really enjoyed the surrounding scenery. The lake is a beautiful place and as far as I can tell, the people here take care to keep it pristine. I think they’re learning from China’s mistakes and will not be as careless with their environment as they develop. But of course that is just a hunch and I really don’t know.
One thing I did not like about the boat tour was the stops we made. Each stop was just a tourist trap shop selling the same set of souvenirs. It detracted from the authenticity of the boat trip, but at the same time I can understand that this is a very large source of income for the people.
The driver took me to the so-called “long-neck ladies” (the ones with the gold rings around their neck) who I had seen before elsewhere and was curious to see them again. I was very disappointed when we arrived at a hut that was simply a souvenir shop with 3 long-neck women sitting in the back of the shop weaving something. They told me I could take pictures, but I refused. It was all so contrived and I honestly hate the idea of incentivizing the body mutilation these women undergo. If you haven’t seen it before, they add a ring around their neck every now and again, which gives them the appearance of an elongated neck. In reality, the rings just push down their clavicles, deforming their bones.
Since I was the only one on the boat, I told the boat driver to cut the tour short and just take me back to town. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and working on Maply (quite productively, I might add).