Asia Myanmar

Taking in the beauty of Inle Lake

After the two day hike from Kalaw, we weren’t sure that we could walk the final steps to our boat for the final leg of our journey to the hotel in Inle Lake. But of course we did.

The walk out to the boat is beautiful – stilted homes on the river and floating garden beds. The boatride to the  hotel took about an hour and a half – Inle Lake is much larger than I had anticipated.

But it has some of the most beautiful scenery we saw during our travels in Myanmar.

The following morning we met our boat driver at 8.30 ready for a full day on the lake. First stop was the market – though our guide had tried to talk us out of it, we insisted. The market was not as big as we had expected, but it was interesting to see all the foods on sale – and a little off-putting to think that the meat sits in that heat all day with flies all over it.

Our tour of the lake included a stop at the silversmiths, blacksmiths, cigar makers, floating village, the jumping cat monastery (unfortunately the cats hadn’t jumped for months) and a Pagoda consisting of five Buddhas. The Buddhas had so much gold leaf applied to them (by men only, women aren’t allowed to apply gold leaf in this Pagoda) they barely resembled Buddhas.

Our last stop was a local village near Mein Thauk, which consisted of a very long and very rickety bridge – it was in slightly better repair than U-Bein Bridge however, and had far fewer people walking across it.

Watching the local fishermen rowing their boats using their feet is also quite a spectacle so while there are many places to stop on the lake and so many things to see and do around it, the activity on the lake itself is just as interesting.

On our last day at Inle Lake we decided we had seen enough of the water and chose to hire bikes and ride out to some hot springs.

It wasn’t really the best weather for hot springs, considering the heat, nor for a bike ride for that matter, but the guidebook said it was a very pleasant ride and it was either that or another massage!

It was a lovely ride despite the hills and passing traffic and the springs were actually very refreshing and quite soothing, it even cooled down just in time for our ride back.

Our flight leaving He Ho was late so by the time we arrived at Yangon airport Anna had left. We didn’t have her home address so after some anxious moments trying to figure out her phone number we managed to work out where to send the taxi driver.

Our last day in Myanmar was spent sight seeing in Yangon. In the morning we went to a local village – the home of one of Anna’s friends. The village was about an hour away by boat and as we pulled up there were a whole lot of villagers dressed in all their finery crossing a footbridge. Anna’s friend explained that the young boys and girls of the village were entering the monastery and this was a procession in celebration.

Those entering the monastery can’t touch the ground after leaving their homes so they were carried on bikes, horseback or in their parents arms to the monastery where they would change into their robes and have their heads shaved. We visited our guide’s family, had some tea and spent the morning wandering around the village, seeing the dirty well where they got their water and visiting the monastery and school. Everywhere we went we were followed by local children who seemed excited to have visitors in their town – we were clearly a novelty.

In the afternoon we visited the Yangon market – it was huge and I’m sure we only saw a quarter of it, but it’s always good to save a little something for the next time you visit a place.

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