Mirror calm at Inle Lake.

Next stop was Inle lake and the town of Nyaungshwe. The route there took us through Meiktila and Kalaw (great for hiking-actually you can hike to Inle if you are so inclined) over a windy mountain pass. In my usual style, as it got to bumpy and windy to read I fell asleep, occasionally waking when my head banged off the wall of the bus. Other than that I was completely unaware of what was going on around me. Gav later informed me that the bus driver’s assistant-who sat in the back of the minibus with us chewing a huge wad of betel- spent most of the mountain pass with his head out the window throwing up.

So we were driving along and this appeared out the window in ..
So we were driving along and this appeared out the window in Meiktila (its a big boat).
Our bags were on top of the van, see that grey one? Not covered by the rain cover?...
Our bags were on top of the van, see that grey one? Not covered by the rain cover?…
that's mine! I was so terrified it would fall off! I even asked the driver as they readjusted the straps a few times. I'm happy to say it survived! Phew!
…that’s mine! I was so terrified it would fall off! I even asked the driver as they readjusted the straps a few times. I’m happy to say it survived! Phew!

After 8 hours we arrived in Nyaungshwe- on arrival we needed to pay another foreigner tax of $10 each to enter the area, after this you’re ticket is not checked once. Anyway, once in Nyaungshwe, we clubbed together with a few other folks to get a super cheap taxi to the hotel. The hotel we got was very basic but still $20 a night-it apparently commands $45+ in high season- so expensive for accommodation! The staff were nice though and we had a pet gecko for two of the nights we were there, we called it Tim. Occasionally it would be joined by a larger gecko that chased it around and bullied it before escaping through a small fist sized hole in the window behind the aircon (yep a hole, perfect for mosquito to get in through). On our first night Gav was woken by Tim in bed next to him, in hot pursuit of some mosquito or fly, he stopped there for ages apparently, only moving when Gav tapped the mattress behind him. We are very fond of geckos.

When we arrived in the hotel I discovered that my bites had turned into awful bruises- like when you fly after being bitten- the mountain pass wasn't that high!
When we arrived in the hotel I discovered that my bites had turned into awful bruises- like when you fly after being bitten- the mountain pass wasn’t that high!
..it only looked like this for 24 hrs thankfully before they faded to yellow.
..it only looked like this for 24 hrs thankfully before they faded to yellow. Also believe it or not I have a tan (well as much of a tan a ginger with factor 50+ can get in 3.5 months).

Of all the places we were in Myanmar this was the most laid back. Everywhere else you had to have your knees and shoulders covered (it’s still very conservative here and you get stared at a lot) but here you could wear what you liked and no one looks at you.

I opted for Shan style potato with chicken
I opted for Shan style potato with chicken
Shan sliced grilled pork tomato curry. There were tomatoes in everything! We very soon found out why.
Shan sliced grilled pork tomato curry. There were tomatoes in everything! We very soon found out why. (the empty dish was fried soy beans- really nice as you can see, demolished!)
Rush hour Inle style- school was out....
Rush hour Inle style- school was out….
...otherwise it looks like this!
…otherwise it looks like this!
River boats
River boats

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Safety first! This was two floors up
Safety first! This was two floors up.

So what is there to do at Inle- well a boat trip on the lake, hiking, bike rides, horse riding, cooking classes (really wish we had done one of these), hot springs and more temples and monasteries. We had seen so many monasteries and temples at this point so were feeling a little “temple”d-out- so we crossed that off straight away.

It was too hot for hiking plus we were feeling lazy, so we decided to hire a bike and go for a cycle out to the local vineyard. It seemed like a good idea to have our first stop at 11 am to involve alcohol- what we were thinking! We got so sleepy! Anyway we cycled for a little bit and then chilled out for the rest of the day.

Proof that I did cycle- FYI Harem pants are not great for bikes.
Proof that I did cycle- FYI Harem pants are not great for bikes.
The vines
The vines
View from our table at Red Mountain Winery
View from our table at Red Mountain Winery
Ah a wine tasting at 11 am.. the joys of travelling!
Ah a wine tasting at 11 am.. the joys of travelling!

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Gav on a bike
Gav on a bike
They use this in the paddy fields- not sure if it is to airate the soil, bring rocks to the surface or smooth out the wet earth, or something else entirely..anyone any ideas?
They use this in the paddy fields- not sure if it is to airate the soil, bring rocks to the surface or smooth out the wet earth, or something else entirely..anyone any ideas?

Another day we headed out on the lake, taking in some of the sights of the villages, visiting a market and some “workshops”. First to the market!

The floating gardens, tomato plants everywhere.
The floating gardens, tomato plants everywhere.
Entrance to the market through the floating gardens.
Entrance to the market through the floating gardens.
On the way to the market  we saw a boat being made. All the boats are teak...
On the way to the market we saw a boat being made. All the boats are teak…
...there was a dog in it basking in the dawn sunshine
…there was a dog in it basking in the dawn sunshine
I'm not sure what was in this but she had no problem carrying it.
I’m not sure what was in this but she had no problem carrying it.
A tube of wall ready to go.
A tube of wall ready to go.

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Betel leaves, nuts, and assorted additives.
Betel leaves, nuts, and assorted additives.

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Sweets!
Sweets!

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Then up the lake to a lotus silk factory. This was interesting to see, it take ages to get enough fibre for a scarf- and a lotus fibre scarf is $100 compared to a silk scarf which was less than $50. It did takes  2 weeks to make rather than a day to make a silk one. En route we passed through a floating village, with shops and boat parking.

More floating gardens
More floating gardens

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Floating village
Floating village
Kids off to school
Kids off to school

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Preparing the lotus fibres
Preparing the lotus fibres

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Lotus stems
Lotus stems
eventually you get enough fibre to spin. It felt quite hard when woven into a scarf. The lady who showed us round kept telling us it gets softer as you  wash it.
eventually you get enough fibre to spin. It felt quite hard when woven into a scarf. The lady who showed us round kept telling us it gets softer as you wash it.
One of the Lotus gardens
One of the Lotus gardens
Spinning wheel
Spinning wheel
One of the many looms
One of the many looms
A Lotus scarf
A Lotus scarf
A hank of silk
A hank of silk

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Not sure this is the safest place for this chap but he was happy enough with his smartphone - these have only come to Myanmar in the last two years and they are everywhere.
Not sure this is the safest place for this chap but he was happy enough with his smartphone – these have only come to Myanmar in the last two years and they are everywhere.

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Thanaka root being ground up and mixed with water....
Thanaka root being ground up and mixed with water….
..and applied. This is the yellow stuff on everyone's faces here, good for the skin and a sunscreen.
..and applied. This is the yellow stuff on everyone’s faces here, good for the skin and a sunscreen.

Next a visit to a small village with a ton of silversmiths, some long necked ladies and an umbrella workshop. I got a small fish.

Stupas at the village
Stupas at the village
Silver before extraction.
Silver before extraction.
Silver after extraction
Silver after extraction

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Long necked ladies- they add an extra set of rings every 5 years up to a maximum of 25 rings. Apparently it is only sore in the morning. Look so painful though!
Long necked ladies- they add an extra set of rings every 5 years up to a maximum of 25 rings. Apparently it is only sore in the morning. Look so painful though!

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Traditional lathe, preparation of the top of the umbrella
Traditional lathe, preparation of the top of the umbrella
Shaping of the top
Shaping of the top

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Stupas again
Stupas again
speed control?
speed control?

In between the visits, we got lots of lake time to see the fishermen- they have a very distinctive type of leg rowing. They sort of twist their leg around the oar and balance it on the inside of their hip. Doesn’t look massively comfortable!P1060774

Our first fisherman before the sun came up.
Our first fisherman before the sun came up.

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More floating gardens
More floating gardens
More goods
More goods

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Cat monastery- the monks train the cats to do tricks in their free time
Cat monastery- the monks train the cats to do tricks in their free time
The cats didn't want to perform that day
The cats didn’t want to perform that day

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As we headed back the rain clouds were starting to gather- we had been on the lake for 6 hrs and up since 3.45 am- time to relax.

So other than that we ate a fair bit. Here are some of the obligatory food photos.

Mmmmmmmm! Our second dose of Nepali food! I went for Peanut Curry (front), Gav went for potato curry with veg, Very nice. It was basically in someone's front room-I had a toddler trying to coax me into picking him up. He was more successful with his parents.
Mmmmmmmm! Our second dose of Nepali food! I went for Peanut Curry (front), Gav went for potato curry with veg, Very nice. It was basically in someone’s front room-I had a toddler trying to coax me into picking him up. He was more successful with his parents.
Then a visit to a Muslim Tea shop, Thu Kha, you pay for what you eat. Good tea and coffee. The big ones in the middle had taro in them and the flat ones at the back some sort of bean paste. The ones on the left were like rock buns without the raisins (and a bit hard)- nice though.
Then a visit to a Muslim Tea shop, Thu Kha, you pay for what you eat. Good tea and coffee. The big ones in the middle had taro in them and the flat ones at the back some sort of bean paste. The ones on the left were like rock buns without the raisins (and a bit hard)- nice though.
More burmese style food from Linn Htat, potato curry and pork curry- the extra bits were a bit heavy on the fish sauce for my taste
More Burmese style food from Linn Htat, potato curry and pork curry- the extra bits were a bit heavy on the fish sauce for my taste
On our last day we headed to a chinese tea shop- no idea of the name, it was all in Burmese. First this arrived...
On our last day we headed to a Chinese tea shop- no idea of the name, it was all in Burmese. First this arrived…
..then more stuff. Also if we weren't quick about eating it it got whipped away.
..then more stuff. Also if we weren’t quick about eating it it got whipped away.

So after a few days at the Lake it was time to leave the lovely Shan region and it’s super friendly people. We had organised a bus with the lady we rented the bike from, we had gone for a 2+1 sleeper- so larger seats than the normal buses (2 seats on one side, one on the other). We were expecting a great night’s sleep on the way to Yangon. So we waited at the specified time for our pickup- which was 30 mins late, then we were brought by pickup up the road to the next village, Shwenyaung. We were let off and told to wait for the bus at the side of the road and the rest of the group headed off down the road to some other stop. It’s worth mentioning that the route to Yangon from this area is serviced by a ridiculous number of private bus companies, so we stood there as bus after bus went by, looking for the one that looked like the picture on our ticket. Eventually nearly an hour after it was due to leave it showed up and two skinny crazy eyed guys came running towards us to grab our bags and get us on the bus. Then we were off! Big plush seats, a neck pillow and fleece blanket, reclining seats and leg support, we were looking forward to this trip!

Our excitement was short lived- we had no lights so Gav couldn’t read and the aircon was on the blitz so fluctuated from 21°C down to a chilly 14°C, it also was having radiator issues so every 30 mins for the steep part of the drive we had to pull in for the radiator to be topped up, it was going to be a long trip………………………

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3 thoughts on “Mirror calm at Inle Lake.

  1. Hiya I can’t see that machine very well ( still no proper glasses ) but I think it’s a rotavator. Health and safety is not a top priority in the building trade

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

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