Tuesday, February 24: This morning, following yesterday’s full day on Inle Lake topped off by the puppet show, I sleep in a bit. When I wake up, I hear tinkling music outside my hotel room window. After breakfast, I rent a bicycle so I can visit the Mingala Market; it just so happens that today is Nyaungshwe’s 5-day rotating market day.
Before I get very far, I hear a lot of hoopla in a sprawling field near my hotel. Trucks are brimming with hundreds of Pa-O people, and the music I heard earlier from my hotel room is dancing in the air. Later I’m told the Pa-O tribe visits different villages to wash the Buddhas in the canal and offer up umbrellas.
The Pa-O reside in the Hpa-an area of Kayin State and in the Thaton area of Mon State, as well as in the Taung Gyi area of Shan State, which is where Nyaungshwe and Inle Lake are. They are estimated to number about 700,000 (Inle Lake, Myanmar: Nationalities – Pa-O).
One can easily spot the Pa-O tribespeople who dress in black or dark blue clothes with colorful turban-like towels on their heads.
After wandering with my bicycle through this field of Pa-O festivities, I head to the Mingala Market. It’s only later that I’m able to see the Pa-O washing a giant Buddha in the canal. 🙂