Where were we? Oh yes, we’d just walked past the Royal Barge, the predecessor of which had sunk in the lake with the loss of five precious Buddhas. So, what became of the Buddhas? Well, the four of them were retrieved pretty quickly, and the fifth sometime later. Now, these Buddhas are revered objects and men – yes, only men – can gain karma by applying gold leaf to these Buddhas which reside in the temple here.
Except that so many men had applied gold leaf to these figures that they don’t look like Buddhas any more. They look like blobs. Not that I, as a woman, could get anywhere near them to take a photograph, of course. That was down to the only man in our party to do.
Heroes do come in useful, you know
From the temple, we went by boat through a series of small communities to Indein, one of the principal places on our map.
This involved a rather tricky journey through a canal in which the brown water signified a serious silt problem.
We passed several boats which had run aground, but for now, we were ok and our driver managed to steer through the deeper channel. Here and there we saw groups of young monks going about their business, for there must be a largish monastery nearby.
Along the waterway, people were doing their washing, washing their clothes and themselves in the muddy water near the riverbanks.
Some of their water buffalo were doing the same thing.
Eventually, we made it to Indein, without too much trouble, thank goodness. Our driver parked our boat and we headed out behind Sanda, as usual.
What we saw there came as quite a surprise. Lots of ruined stupas and pagodas, in varying degrees of disrepair. Some were as old as the 14th century it’s said, but most date from the 18th and 19th centuries on the whole.
The shapes were wonderful but it was hot hot hot and maybe we didn’t give the site the attention it deserved.
Even so, the occasional Buddha figure looking out at us from its remote place didn't pass us by and we admired the fine detail in the stucco patters and images here and there.
From here, we moved under a covered walkway lined with market stalls to walk to the higher site , were more ruins were to be found alongside restored pagodas, too. Some of the stalls were selling large embroideries, the like of which we hadn’t seen before.
A small boy was pleased to show off his new toy – a jumping horse which he controlled by means of a squeezy ball. Sanda asked him how he’d come across such a thing, to which he replied casually, “Oh, I bought it”.
A little further along, a woman was sitting tatting at breakneck speed. Well, I guess that if you are to make money from a skill like that you do have to work fast.
Her work was for sale, but however much I admired it, there was no way I was going to buy, sadly.
The temples at the top of the hill were even more interesting than those at the bottom.
Some were really well restored whilst others, right next to them were almost ruinous. In the meantime, I was coveting that sun umbrella.
We walked around the pagodas for a while, finding the intense heat difficult to manage.
But now and again, there was a treat in store.
I liked the personal touches here and there.
But time was pressing and we needed to get back to our boat. We followed this little family group back down the covered walkway, past the market stalls again.
Past the tatting lady.
Past stalls selling all kinds of things, with few customers today.
Trade was so slow, some decided to take a nap.
But needless to say, some business was done.
Back they way we’d come, then, past monks who had gone for a swim in the river and returned to being little boys again.
They’d hung their maroon robes on the bushes alongside the river as they swam.
At one point, we ran aground! Our driver had to wade into the water and try to lift the boat out, floating it into the deeper water.
We passsed boats returning from the market, bringing the women back home, including this Karen woman peeking over the side. You can’t see in the photo what I saw – the brass rings around her neck, because this is the tribe of the long neck women and she was wearing a full set of brass rings around her neck. We’d met these women some years ago in North East Thailand and chatted to them about their culture – fascinating – so it was interesting to see one of them out and about today.
Heaven knows how these more heavily laden boats made it through those shallow waters!
We were returning to the peace and quiet of our room where we could cool off, reflect on the days happenings and pack our bags again. We’d said goodbye to our boat driver and arranged to meet Sanda early the next morning for our flight out of Heho.
I can’t tell you what a great time we’ve had here!