Seeing the "Other" Side of Inle Lake

We departed from the jetty in Nyaungshwe, the jumping off point to Inle Lake. Once in the motorized longboat, we passed tourists, cameras attempting to catch the famous Inle Lake leg paddlers. We saw tourist focused restaurants, silver smiths, silk weavers, and stilted souvenir stalls.

Then, we hit the real Inle. We were officially off the tourist trail, and on assignment with a non-profit, Global Community Service Foundation.

The village of about 140 families is fairly typical of Inle - everything built on stilts, from homes to monasteries. The people are poor, mostly fishermen. The difference here results from GCSF and the new preschool.

Our longboat approached the tiny preschool. We parked, climbed out, and carefully walked up the bamboo steps. The children and their four teachers were waiting. We tried to say hello in Burmese, but mispronounced it, which did not go unnoticed by the children, who repeated our mispronunciation in a sing-song manner. I love getting made fun of by 4 and 5 year old children!

The children learn both Burmese and English.
They provided us with a priceless experience, as they sang songs and performed a little dance. We gave them each a little gift, and the chorus of “thank you,” in English, just melted my heart.

These are the types of experiences I love when traveling and I will never forget our visit with the children and their teachers. Check out www.gcsfngo.org for more information.

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