KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We didn’t know what was in store for us once we were finished lunch with the local family. We got back into the boat headed towards the wide-open expanse of Inle Lake and then directly across it. We were zooming along at full speed with the spray soaring high in the air from the force of the boat cutting through the water.
Ahead I could see a village where the all houses seemed to be built on stilts. The boat slowed to a quiet crawl and we were able to soak in the atmosphere of the wooden houses and the water lapping against the supports. We passed a woman rowing her boat by hand, sitting at the very back with her toddler right in front of her. They both looked very relaxed, like it was just another daily journey for them both.
Another boat carried a man seated at the front of his boat towards a house with colourful laundry hanging to dry in the sun. Moments later we pulled up to what appeared to be the only solid ground in the area, and then we learned that we had arrived at the village school. Derek explained to us that he was taking us to a primary school so that Christine could distribute the gifts she had brought for the schoolchildren.
We crossed the schoolyard and approached the main building; Derek went inside to speak to one of the teachers. He learned that they would be finishing the class shortly and that the headmistress would take us to the classroom of the youngest children during the break.
We waited on the verandah outside the schoolroom of the older children and I was happy to watch the youngsters hard at work on their lessons. Anil was keen as well, always happy to be near a school after being a teacher and then the school principal for his entire working career.
After a short wait, we were taken to another building where the youngest children were busy working on printing the alphabet. One little boy had a broom almost as long as he was tall, and he was attempting to sweep the floors before our arrival. The teacher explained to the children that visitors had arrived. They sat quietly while Christine excitedly distributed ‘fairy wings’ to the girls and colourful balls to the boys.
I don’t think the girls had any idea what the wings were for, though they are something that little girls in Canada are quite familiar with from all the Disney cartoons they grow up watching. Moments later, the girls had seated themselves at their desks again, the wings strapped to their backs, and they were hard at work on their lessons once again.
The boys seemed to know that they couldn’t play with the balls in the classroom, so they tucked them under their arms so they wouldn’t roll away, and they too turned their attention to the work at hand.
I think Christine was a little disappointed at the lack of excitement or show of appreciation shown by the children or the teachers. Before too much more time passed, Anil and I stepped out of the classroom and waited for Christine and her husband to join us. No one said much of anything as we returned to the boats and made our way back to our hotel.
We were back around 4:00pm and I spent some time appreciating the beautiful seeing of our hotel, and the sumptuous bungalows suspended over the water. The contrast with the houses built on stilts that we’d just visited was not lost on us. We had mosquito nets to enclose our beds at night and screens on the windows as well.
We’d arranged to have in-room massages a short time later and were pleasantly surprised when two ladies, dressed in traditional clothing, arrived at the appointed time. There was room enough on the large king-sized bed for both of us to have our massages at the same time. The first time we’d ever had a ‘couples massage’.
We relaxed for a couple of hours in our room before joining the others in our group for dinner at the hotel restaurant. This was the last evening of our tour and the following morning we were due to fly to Yangon.