By 9am we are back on the hard little seats in the long narrow boat. Having learned our lesson yesterday, we have had virtually nothing to drink for breakfast. There are no toilets on the boat or anywhere round the lake, and yesterday we sat for hours with our legs held tightly together. We couldn’t even jiggle around in our discomfort for fear of upsetting the boat.
We start the day at another market, this one is much bigger and feels more prosperous, but that is just in comparison to yesterday. There is an adjoining fish market where all sorts of different fish are laid out on the ground. They are all pitifully small. The vendors get a much better price for the fish if they are still alive, so they go to great lengths to insure that they are. Bunches of about 8 or 10 are held together by a thread running through their gills, and each bunch is periodically dipped in a bowl of water to revive them. Once they start flapping around in the water they are promptly removed and laid out on the ground for inspection.
From here, we go up a small river leading off the lake for about 20 minutes until we arrive at the small town of Indein. It is here that we find a hillside that is covered in 1090 stuppas, all built in the 17th century and all in a sad state of disrepair. It is a magnificent sight, but the stuppas are crumbling, have trees growing through them and are overgrown by the surrounding jungle. Our guide explains that the Myanmar people consider it extremely bad luck to do anything to the stuppas, and so they are just left to crumble. Some of the more concerned citizens have asked the local tribal chiefs if they couldn’t at least keep the jungle at bay and cut the trees that are doing damage, but so far with no results.
There are two kinds of stuppas, one is solid but the other has an entrance and is hollow inside. These hollow stuppas each had a Buddha inside them, but now almost all of them are empty. Antique dealers from Thailand come over and pillage the Buddhas to sell in their stores back home.