After leaving the market area, we floated around the lake heading back upstream and stopped in a few villages to see the local specialties of each respective village. First off was the weaving village, one of the places I specifically asked for. Having been living in Bhutan and Laos for the last year plus, both countries where textiles are a major source of cultural history as well as income, I've developed a respect and curiosity for weaving. I love going to weaving places and seeing what each local design or specialty is. I find it so interesting that these countries all over the world have so many differences but in textiles there are a lot of similarities. Not to mention that this skill hasn't changed much in thousands of years. Pretty fascinating. One really cool thing happening with the weavers at Inle Lake is that they use lotus fibers to weave. I've never heard or seen of this anywhere else. It's a tiresome and somewhat painstaking process. The fibers in each stem are very minimal so you require a lot of lotus (would that be lotai?) to make just one bobbin. The final product was a super soft and durable (i think) fabric. The problem was that it was also RIDICULOUSLY expensive. Sorry people I buy gifts for, you're not getting one. Neither am I.
After weaving we floated upstream to a che root rolling house. I am not sure what "che" actually is but considering they were making burmese cigars I'd wager che is the local name for tobacco or possible it's something to mix with tobacco. Either way, I didn't smoke the one they offered me to try. Too many bad experiences with cigars in my younger days.
Next we stopped for lunch. I tried a local "fish and rice salad" that was tasty and I also split the fried fish stuffed with pork with Chris. This was fabulous. Why other people don't make this type of dish more is besides me. The outside was crunchy and the fish on the inside was soft with pork flavorings swirling around it. Great choice.
After lunch we would visit an umbrella making factory that also had some of the Kayen tribes ladies there. This type of Kayen tribe is the one who stretch the necks of the women over time with rings. Eventually the necks become so long that the muscles can't support it and if they took the rings off the head would fall back, unable to hold itself up. It's very sad and I didn't want to take any pictures as it supports the women to keep up the traditions in order to have work being photographed for money. In the end I had a picture taken with the ladies as a way to document the reality of this to all those unaware. Our ladies weren't ones doing this for money either (at least they didn't ask us for it) which made me feel a little better as well.
Next up was the floating gardens and jumping cat monastery. sweet!