Flying away to Inle Lake
Upon leaving the Sanctuary Ananda, our driver took us to the airport for our flight to Inle Lake. It took about an hour to get there and we enjoyed seeing a bit more of Mandalay. When we arrived, we were helped with our luggage into the airport and as soon as we stepped up to the desk to wait in line, a young man took our luggage and our passports and proceeded to get our boarding passes for us. I am not sure if he was part of our tour company, actually the same thing happened to us at the Yangon Airport when we left for Taiwan and Los Angeles. We were there in plenty of time so we went to the gate. We were confused about the gate number because the boarding pass didn’t tell us what it was. We waited for a while and then I went back out to ask at the desk and of course had to go through security again. We were sitting in the right place. Our plane was pretty much on time and we boarded and found our seats. We were served brunch even though it was not much more than an hour flight.
We waited for our luggage and they were the last to come off. We found our guide right away. She was really cute and very personable. She made the tour about us and what we wanted to do. The town near the airport is called Pindaya. It is the town nearest to Inle Lake.
Not too far from the airport, was the Shan Paper and Umbrella Workshop. Our guide, whose name is Yay Lar, suggested we stop and see how paper and umbrellas were made at a local family- run workshop.
The whole manufacturing process is lengthy but here is a short version of how paper is made: The fibers of the mulberry tree are dipped in water then plastered in a wood fire with a mixture of wood ash or clay for more than 5 hours. The paper dough is beaten with a wooden mallet for several minutes Later, a bamboo frame covered with a fine cotton fabric (coated with oil) is settled at the bottom of a tank filled with water. The pulp is diluted in the water and distributed equally on the canvas.
The frame is pulled out from the water tank while the pulp of paper stays on the cotton canvas. The frame and pulp of paper take hours to dry in the sun and finally the pulp will be transformed into paper.
The owner of the shop, then showed us how he made the bamboo umbrellas. Every piece of the umbrella is made by hand from the bamboo handle to the paper sheets on the umbrella frame. The process has many steps and is a fairly intricate. It takes a long time to produce each piece. Different parts of the final product are produced by different family members and assembled in the end to create umbrellas in a variety of colors, patterns and sizes.
This will be a short post as the next one will show the sights that we saw as we sped across Inle Lake.