On the boat on Inle Lake and trekking in Nyaugshwe
07-11 March 2014 A busride of 12 hours is nothing new anymore. But if you have stomach problems, you want to be at your destination as soon as possible! As so, my busride from Hsipaw to Inle Lake was as you can imagine not so pleasant but I did made it! We were dropped off in Nyaungshwe, the closest gateway to Inle Lake. Once we got off the bus, we needed to pay a 10 USD gouvernment fee to enter the Inle Lake area. I was never asked to show the ticket later and I don’t know if I could just have left without paying it, but as everyone else (at least all foreigners) on the bus was buying it, and I didn’t want to risk it, I bought one myself too. Althought I wasn’t feeling 100% I wanted to already see something of the area. So while I was wandering in town I bumped into some people who were planning to bike to the Red Mountain Winery Estate. Of course I joined them for some nice wine and another awesome sunset!
With our group of 5 we also booked a tour on Inle Lake for the day after. Being a tour we stopped at quite some workshop places annex souvenirshops (cheroot making, silver, woodcrafting). But there was also the really nice lakeside village Inthein (Indein) with the Shwe Inn Thein Paya, a temple complex with more than 1000 old and new stupas which we reached via a very peaceful lade of Inle Lake. I particularly liked the silent sound that the little bells on top of the stupas were making. Okay, it sounds quite loud on the video, but in real it was much more tranquil :-p (TIP: visiting the temple is free, but you’ll be asked to pay a camera fee . You can avoid that fee by going around the main entrance and entering the site via the left side..no control post there :-))
If you have a Lonely Planet of Myanmar, you’ll know that its cover shows a man rowing his boat with his legs. Inle Lake is the place to be if you want to see those leg rowing people of the Intha tribe in person. There are some ‘fake’ ones, only there to impress tourists but there are enough ‘real’ ones in and around the lake that use this special paddling technic to catch fish and to move up and down the lake every day. I’ve been to many floating villages but never to floating gardens. A gigantic area with long, small bamboo rafts where they put mud on. The mud will dry on top and becomes the perfect soil for cultivating veggies. It was tomato season when we were there, lots of juicy tomatoes!
I was feeling better so I booked another overnight trek around Nyaugshwe..rolling yeah! But I cheered to soon BUT although my stomach was prostesting, I continued the trekking. Not in my best condition and maybe I enjoyed it a bit less but I didn’t want to miss the chance to sleep on top of the mountain in a monastery! It didn’t kill me, so it must have made me stronger, right? :-pAnyway, we started at 8.30 am and arrived at the monastery around 5 pm, including a 1,5h lunchbreak. I was really happy to arrive at the monastery and be able to just relax and enjoy the sunset while our guide was making us a nice dinner (It looked and smelled great but I only had rice and soup as I didn’t want to upset my stomach the more). The night was cold but thanks to the 3 (!) blankets I slept like a baby! And I felt much better the next day. Ready for the descend! It would take us another 5 hours trekking, mostly downhill though, to go back to Nyaugshwe.
Inle Lake is one of the 5 top sights in Myanmar, which usually means it’s crowded with tourists. I didn’t had the feeling that it was packed with them at all! Maybe it wasn’t the ‘right’ season? It was for sure one of my favorite places in Myanmar And now I’m off to the n° 1 sight of Myanmar…Bagan!