Nyaungshwe & Inle Lake

To get to Nyaungshwe and Inle Lake from Hsipaw we had to endure another epic 15 hour bus journey. And as the Burmese have a strange predilection for overnight buses, we had no choice but to arrive at stupid-o'clock in the morning again. Thankfully this time we were a bit wiser and booked an additional night's stay so we could check straight into our room when we arrived. Praise be.

This room was to be our home for the next 8 days and nights. It wasn't much to talk about, but at least, for once, we didn't feel like we were being totally ripped off. You see a big problem with travelling in Burma is that it's seen a relative explosion in tourism in the past year or so and there aren't really enough hotel rooms to go around. So all the hotels have decided to capitalise on this by increasing their prices by around 4 times the amount quoted in guide books. It was difficult to find anything under $40 a night, and at times it was difficult finding anywhere at all, so, all in all, we were quite happy with our $25 room.

Nyaungshwe was the main traveller town for those wanting to visit Inle Lake. On our second day in town we took our turn and hired a motorised canoe and a smiling driver called Mauso for the day and headed off at dawn across the lake. And it didn't disappoint. Dotted around the lake are the stilt house villages, markets, cottage industries and floating gardens of the Intha tribe. And on the lake it's people travel around on traditional flat-bottomed skiffs, uniquely propelling themselves by rowing with one leg wrapped around a wooden paddle, while balancing on the other leg at the very back (or front) of the boat. It looks like it shouldn't work, and you know if you tried it yourself you'd definitely fall in.

Inle Lake was majestic, utterly fascinating and very photogenic. So without further ado...

Cheroot / Cigar making
One for the hat collection

The lake also had its share of Buddhist temples, monasteries and ruins...

It was a spectacular day, so much so that we took another chance to go out onto the lake again while we were there. But only after I had gotten over the heat stroke I received from being out in the sun all day. Ouch! Thankfully there was a pizzeria in town and they did take away as i didn't stray far from our bed for the next two days.

While in town we also found time to rent bicycles and head off to the local Red Mountain Estate vineyard. After a quick tour of the joint, we sat down to the serious task of some wine tasting. Followed by lunch, washed down with a bottle of their very palatable Cabernet Sauvignon. Needless to say, the cycle home was a lot of fun.

On another day, we cycled between a sea of paddy fields to some hot springs. Which was enjoyable once Jo had stopped f'ing and blinding about the bumpy road.

And this was practically the end of our Burma adventure, with yet another long overnight bus journey taking us back to Yangon to catch a flight to Bangkok, and then onto Sri Lanka to meet up with my dad and step-mum by the beach...


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