One of the coolest things about meeting people around Indawgyi is that no matter who it is, he or she probably possesses a wide variety of skills. Although being near one of the trading routes that connects the mining region of Hpa Kant to Mandalay, many of the villages were relatively secluded. This means that if you wanted some specific item, you needed to know how to make it or at least know someone who did.
Taking Care of Things Locally
Even though Indawgyi is now easier than ever to get to and only about an hour away from the nearest railway station in Hopin and a few hour drive from the nearest airport in Myitkyina, the Kachin State capital, this culture holds true.
For example, if your motorbike is broken, the local mechanic doesn't need to order a product and wait a week for it to arrive. Instead, he will find some parts around his shop and fuse your broken motorbike frame back together (this amazing work happened two weeks ago in Lon Ton)
Getting Things Built
Fishing is clearly an important practice for the livelihood of the people who live in Indawgyi, but a smaller home industry is shrimping. Freshwater shrimp live in the lake and for the most of the year (aside from rainy season), shrimp provide not only extra food, but also extra income.
One of our favorite people at the lake is U Tin Maing, the manager of Indaw Mahar Guesthouse and we recently went over to his house to meet with his wife, Daw Chit Mya, who generally manages the affairs of the house as U Tin Maing has to be at the guesthouse the vast majority of his time.
Among other things, she crafts special shrimp traps made from bamboo. To do this, she thinly slices the bamboo into approximately footlong strands. From here, she creates a basket utilizing no glue, string or nails. The top of the trap easily latches and unlatches making getting the shrimp out a breeze.
Catching Some Shrimp
To catch the shrimp, Daw Chit Mya places a piece of bamboo across the middle of the trap with a piece of bait on it. The trap is built so the shrimp can swim in, but not out. After the traps are ready, she put them on a small boat and rows about twenty feet from the shore.
The traps are placed at 4:00 PM and left for twelve hours to be collected by 4:00 AM. By mid-morning the next day, she is already preparing a meal from the shrimp as well as ground shrimp paste which is used as both a seasoning while cooking and a topping to be placed on rice and other dishes.
Shrimping is just one of many things that people do around Indawgi Lake. Around U Tin Maing and Daw Chit Mya's home, you can find chickens, ducks and pigs and his house is no exception. Other homes do things like produce traditional alcohol while others weave cloth into longyis. Each house has its own story and if you're lucky you just might get invited over for dinner to hear some.