Rush hour on Inle Lake

We all live in cities where we experience rush hour traffic every day – sometimes right through the day. But that is on the roads. What about rush hour traffic on the water?

So, there we were, floating peacefully on Inle Lake, after visits to a monastery complex, a silk weaving centre and a floating village, among other things (more on this in detail later). Since everything was on the water, all travel there was carried on in boats – imagine dropping by for tea at a neighbour’s house on a boat!

We had just finished lunch and were slowly beginning the return journey to the village of Nyaung Shwe, where we were based. Life was still at that time of the day, just a few fishermen desultorily trying their luck on the water, a few “gardeners” on their boats tending to the floating gardens and some boat traffic between homes.

Alone

All of a sudden, there was a buzz on the calm waters, dozens of boats began to appear, and the air was filled with the chatter of children. A primary school – again rooted on the floating village by strong bamboo poles – had just got over for the day and mothers had come in their boats to take their children and the scene was one of complete chaos. And as with any typical end of school day, the kids could not wait to rush back home and perhaps begin playing with their friends.

School

Rush

So there were the boats criss-crossing across this narrow stretch of the lake, mothers trying to identify their children and get them on to the boats quickly. It was a scene resembling a mini traffic jam, only without any honking or cursing. Several mothers had also opted to take in other children – what we ended up calling “boat pooling” – and that was the scene was enjoyed for a full ten minutes, children sitting in a quiet orderly line on each of the boats, eager expressions on their faces, ready to begin the evening’s fun.

Pooling

Boat

This was my most memorable experience from that entire day of exploring Inle Lake, and probably one of my favourite quirky travel moments.

Do you have any such unusual moments to share – please leave a comment on it.

The monkeys swim here!

We huffed and puffed our way up to the fabulous Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu – reaching the top to see those watchful eyes look benevolently over the city.

Swayambhunath

And on our way down, we took a shorter and easier route and discovered this swimming pool for monkeys. A group of them swinging from trees, somersaulting into the green water and in general, behaving like monkeys.

Monkey swimming pool

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The really fascinating sight was that of monkeys sitting by the water an splashing it vigorously to and fro and on each other. Introspective monkeys, playful monkeys, scardey-cat monkeys – we found them all in the course of the few minutes we spent there (I had to, of course, drag my husband away)

Monkeys frolicking

Hullo monkey

Swayambhunath has large groups of monkeys and is known to some (read, Westerners) as the monkey temple. They truly reign over the place – see this one munching on a bar of Snickers. Totally accustomed to human company, these monkeys were indifferent to fascinated passersby who stopped to play (what a bad idea) and photograph (a few monkeys posed obligingly).

monkey bars

So, have you found a swimming pool for any animal anywhere?

Happy 125th, Eiffel Tower!

Paris’ most recognisable landmark, the structure that graces a million postcards, recently turned 125.

The Eiffel Tower. Love it or hate it. You cannot ignore it. When you walk through that part of Paris, it feels that any corner you turn, there it is. What is so charming about a tall tower of metal, that it welcomes 7 million people a year, paying a steep fee of €15 to take the lift to the top?

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That’s what I wondered before I saw it for myself. And then I found myself wanting to go there again and again, especially loving it late at night when the lights come on and twinkle in time to the merry lights of the carousel ride on the opposite side of the road.

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And then there are the views of the city from the top, the breeze that threatens to blow you right off and just that happy feeling of being on top of the world…

Here is some great reading on the man behind this engineering marvel – Gustave Eiffel.

“The tower sways around six to seven centimetres (2-3 inches) in the wind” – this and more fascinating facts about Eiffel Tower here.

And finally, some interesting photographs from the time of the construction of this icon.

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