The man who had stopped me to sell me the boat trip met me at the hotel entrance with his motorbike. He squished my luggage onto his motorbike—the right way, between his knees, not like that guy in Congo who made me wear the backpack—and zipped me over to Teakwood. I handed my locked bag to the owner, and then the motorbike rider dropped me off at the dock. He'd been in a hurry, telling me that we had to get to the market at Inle Lake's southern end before all the other tourists.
I was a little surprised as I hadn't realized the motorbike guy was a tout. I'd thought he actually had a boat, but no. I should have just gone straight to the pier instead, hired directly.
The boat driver motioned me into a long boat. I'd asked about shade, and there was shade. An umbrella.
The first person who works out to put a canopy over their boat is going to get a lot of tourist dollars, I thought.
We zoomed straight south. I'd slathered on a lot of sunscreen and the morning was still cool, so I enjoyed the sun for the moment.
Nyuangshwe is on a river that leads into the lake, so a few kilometers south, the inlet opened up into a misty lake full of fishermen.
We headed south all the way to the village of Thaung Tho, where a market was on. Only two other tourists were there—everyone else was from the lake area.
I headed through and stopped at a souvenir stand. The woman was keen to sell, since I was her first customer and the first sale of the morning is auspicious.
I bought. I dug out my carefully stored pristine US dollars and traded for some paintings.
And then I walked up the hill to a complex of Shan stupas.
The boat driver had given me an hour. I had several thousand-kyat notes (more or less a dollar), and as I walked back down the hill, I stopped at souvenir stands. Hundreds of other tourists had arrived now (the motorbike guy had been right to get me here early), and I maneuvered among them.
"Here is 1,000 kyat. Please pick out a souvenir for me."
The sellers were amused, and chose a ring, some earrings, and a bracelet for me. And they all made their first, auspicious sale of the day.