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Inle Lake

Water and wine...

sunny 26 °C


It's been so easy to travel around Myanmar; granted we've stuck to the backpacker buses rather than local buses, but even so, they're so cheap and efficient. We caught another overnight bus from Hsipaw to Inle Lake, which arrived on time, 5.30am, and we managed to check straight into our hotel to catch up on few hours sleep in the morning.
We stayed at Blissful Inn; a relatively new hotel with very attentive door staff (racing to open the door, even tripping over themselves to ensure they get there before you). In fact all the young staff were really nice and seemed to work there 24/7, we often had to wake the receptionist and ask her to deal with our request in her pyjamas. Nonetheless, they were all really friendly and helpful.

We felt like a chilled day initially at Inle, so this turned out to be a food and wine day... lovely! We hired bicycles from our hotel and our first stop was a 'sort of' bakery for a homemade burger and avacado smoothie. We then cycled through Nuangshwe, the town we were staying at on the lake, and worked up an appetite and thirst...what better way to deal with hunger and thirst than a stop at a Myanmar vineyard. The Red Mountain winery sits just outside Nuangshwe, a short 30 minute cycle ride. It has a lovely outdoor area where you can soak up the views of the lake with a glass or two of wine. We really treated ourselves and ordered a tasting set each of 4 wines, then a bottle of wine (a lovely sauvignon blanc) and then a glass of red each. I was pleased with our wine afternoon, but I was even more chuffed that I got to eat proper blue cheese (I've not had decent cheese for 8 months and I've missed it so much). It all went down a treat. By evening time we needed some food to even up our alcohol intake, so had a nice meal at Lotus restaurant; lemon chicken, lime lassi and avocado salad.
On our second day we decided to see Inle Lake up close...it was a brilliant day! We paid 14000 kyat each to spend the day on the lake with our very own teak boat, boatman, chairs, blankets and umbrellas. You can take your pick of boat companies to take you out on the lake, all doing the same sort of tour (souvenir shops, silversmiths, cigar workshops, traditional fisherman, stilted village and floating allotments). We picked ours based on an honest initial quote (rather than all the haggling and pestering)...it turned out to be the right choice.
The lake's huge and surrounding mountain scenery stunning. It took us about 1 hour to get from the north side to 2/3 of the way down. We were both amazed by the stilted villages and floating farm land of fruit and vegetables...I could have spent hours just boating in between the villages to see how they live. We've visited lots of villages throughout Asia, but none like this... aesthetically it has to be my favourite... the wooden houses are perfectly suspended over the lake water by thin wooden poles, creating beautiful waterways of teak lodges. The villages have schools, the local post office and all the usual daily goings on of normal village life, except that neighbours don't just pop next door for a chat or to the local shop, instead they have to elegantly row themselves through the small water channels. Almost all of the villagers income is from farm produce, fruit and vegetables, that are grown on marsh land... you can see the villagers tending to their tomatoes, courgettes, fresh flowers on their small boats...just amazing to see! There's so much fresh food and they're all sold at the local markets that happen at village sites over the lake.
Our boatman called in at the obligatory souvenir and workshops; including silversmiths, weaving, cigar making, boat timber men, ladies with long necks (I'm not sure what tribe they were from) and craft work.
I think our boatman soon guessed that we weren't the type of tourist that was interested in the tacky souvenir pitch, so spent more time taking us around more villages and floating gardens.
We stopped for lunch at a stilted restaurant and had a lime sour fish dish with rice and noodles... Delicious!
As the sun was going down over the lake we made our way into the middle where the fisherman were using traditional techniques for their catch...elegantly the men balance on one leg and paddle with their foot, what seems to be effortlessly and with grace, whilst casting their nets out to catch the fish. Again, I could have spent hours watching them, it was fascinating. Our lovely boat man let us circle the men, so peaceful, and joined Jason with a Myanmar cigar while we all relaxed in the middle of the lake watching the sunset... a truely beautiful day, one of my favourites!
What better way to end an already fantastic day than to have a curry and a beer in the evening. We ordered chicken and Dahl curry, with plenty of naan bread to soak it up...oh and an avacado salad (in case you haven't guessed by our Myanmar blog entries, we can't get enough of the avacados here).

On our last day in Nuangshwe we had just enough time to visit a couple of temples by bicycle before we had to get the bus back to Yangon. Oh, and we happened to squeeze in another curry, Nepalese this time...

Posted by bloorsontour 18:14 Archived in Myanmar

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Your beautiful photos have really captured the essence of the day - very different culture - really interesting.
Lovely hat, Sophie! (Cigar!!?? Eugh!) Hope the toes have healed? Xxxx

by Ma and Pa

A very different culture,really interesting. Look after those feet!xx

by the wrinklies

Brilliant blog read after a wonderful day in Langkawi. Xxx

by mutsi

The ladies with the neck coils are from the Kayan Lahwi group.They start to put them on from the age of two years!xx

by the wrinklies

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