Beautiful Inle

Trip Start Sep 19, 2010
Trip End Sep 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
Princess garden Resort

Flag of Myanmar  ,
Monday, February 28, 2011

16 th Feb.

  We arrived at Bagan airport wondering why we were rushing to leave Bagan. I Knew we were making a mistake in leaving so early and I was regretting it already. There was so much more to see. Never mind these mistakes happen. We climbed into the small turbo prop plane, all nine of us and no sooner had we taken off we were landing. The airline we were using was Mandalay Air and the boarding card will be a welcome addition to my boarding card collection. Yes, I know it is sad. But I have been collecting them for years and I have built up a great collection.
  The airport we arrived at was called Heho if I remember rightly and is about 30Km away from the lake. We walked out of the airport into a scramble of taxi touts. Well, there was only nine passengers and about 40 taxi drivers!! Cathy and I teamed up with two Malaysian guys and a French couple and shared the cost of a ride in the back of a pickup to a town called Nyaungshwe at the northern tip of the lake. This is where the tourists normally stay and has some good hotels. We had not booked anywhere to stay as we left in such a hurry. The Malaysian guys told us that they had booked a lovely little place with a pool for 20 a night. We thought that sounded perfect and headed there with them. It was actually better than we had hoped it would be. Sure enough it had a great pool and eight modern chalets set in lovely gardens.
   We had a swim then headed out to explore the town. After a long walk around and a couple of pizzas we headed back to the hotel. Back at the hotel we got talking to the Malaysian guys and they said they had booked a boat to take them on a full day tour of the lake and we could come along and share the cost. We agreed, it would cost Cathy and I 8 between us. Cathy and I were up early the next morning so we could have our breakfast before we set off on our tour of the lake and what a breakfast it was. The breakfast was a three course affair and all included in the 20 a night rate. How I love South East Asia. The four of us walked to the jetty and met our boatman. The boat was a thin wooden boat with four seats set out in single file. We all settled in and set off up the 4Km canal that leads from town to the lake.
  Inle lake is in Shan state and sits 875Mtr above sea level and is ringed with mountains. It is about 22 Km long and about 11Km wide.  Dotted about the lake are islands of floating vegetation that the locals have ingeniously turned into floating market gardens. They literally have to do the gardening from their boats. Another unique thing about the lake is that the local fishermen have developed a way of rowing their boats using one leg. They seem to wrap their leg around the paddle. This way of paddling is found nowhere else on Earth. The lake waters were dead calm with water Lilli scattered about. The views from the lake were simply stunning. Our boatman first took us to a floating village. Here we were taken around several cottage industries, like a silversmith and a weaving place where they still used traditional looms. All very interesting but we did not buy anything. The next place however I did put my hand into my pocket. It was a cigar factory, well a room where they rolled them anyway. All the tobacco is locally grown and they use corn husks as a natural filter. I had coincidentally bought one the previous evening and had really enjoyed it. So I bought 50 cigars for 2.50 and I shall enjoy everyone. From here we headed to a place called Indein to see yet more temples. We had a pleasant wander up a hill to see the temple but Cathy and I enjoyed the view of the lake from up here more than the temple. After the marvelous temples of Bagan this was nothing to get exited about. I suppose we had been spoiled. Next up was a monastery set on stilts in the middle of the lake. This monastery was something Cathy and I had been looking forward to seeing. It's name is jumping cat monastery and it's famous for it's jumping cats, of course. The monks here for some unknown reason have trained their cats to jump through hoops. Cathy and I are both cat lovers and this we had to see. We arrived just as a monk was getting the cats to jump, and jump they did with a bit of prodding and poking. Unfortunately every time I tried to get a picture I missed the cat in the air. I really must invest in a better camera. After this we went to see some tribal women. These are the women you will no doubt have seen on TV with huge brass coils around their necks. As they get older and their necks stretch longer they just add more bands. I do not know their tribal name, our boatman just called them the long necks. They were thrilling to see and such a surprise to Cathy and I as we had no idea they came from Burma!! It had been a fantastic day and the sun was setting over the mountains as we headed back up the lake to Nyaungshwe.
  We took it easy the next day not really venturing far from the swimming pool at all. We did nip out to book a flight to Rangoon for the next day. Yes we were flying again. It's not that we are getting lazy, it's because the bus to Rangoon takes between 14 and 16 hours. We decided long ago that we will not do any bus trip more than 10 hours long. This time the airline is Bagan air and will stop off in Mandalay before it heads down to Rangoon. That night we decided to splash out and eat at a fancy restaurant. We both had Lamb curry and it was delicious. The next morning we spent around the pool again and at 2 O'clock our taxi arrived to take us to the airport
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