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Published: December 11th 2018
Unsurprisingly the bus journey from Yangon last night was bumpy and it was difficult to get any sleep. The new highway from Yangon to Mandalay is poorly laid and so rough despite there not being any pot holes (yet). The chairs were wide and fairly comfy, although there wasn’t enough leg room for taller people once the chairs in front were pushed back. We were relieved to find that they stopped regularly for loo breaks, provided some water & a small snack and made sure you were awake for the right stop. We even enjoyed on bus entertainment of a relatively good film just with subtitles so it didn’t disturb those doing other things.
We were dropped off slightly earlier than expected in Nyaungshwe (6am as opposed to 7am). Here we were surrounded by tauts trying to sell their boat rides and telling us that the hotel wouldn’t pick us up from the bus station and probably wouldn’t come anyway. They did - and they were earlier than we had arranged as well.
Our first hotel here, the Shwe Inn Tha Hotel, is an hours boat ride from Nyaungshwe. Despite being cooler and cloudier than expected this was
a pleasant journey (blanket provided) and we got to see the fishermen out on their canoes which they paddle with their feet.
The rooms in the hotel are all in little individual huts on stilts above the water, similar to the traditional houses. Our room is pleasant with a fantastic view across the lake to the hills behind and plenty of seating from which to enjoy it.
Having had little sleep we spent the morning having a nap before enjoying lunch in the hotel restaurant. My original plan had been to spend the day lazing by the pool but unfortunately it’s not warm or sunny today so that’s not an option. Instead we got a boat to the nearby Phaung Daw Oo Paya - a Buddhist site famous for housing 5 gold leafed images of Buddha.
After wandering around the pagoda we walked across to see the replica royal barges used for religious ceremonies every Sep - Oct time.
The highlight of the afternoon for me was then wandering around the village. We got to see traditional houses on stilts with woven walls, kids playing with their kites, boats being rowed with their legs and all sorts of
interesting passageways and rickety bridges. I don’t think many westerners walk around this bit and we were greeted with enthusiasm and a little curiosity by the locals.
We purchased some biscuits in a small stall we passed and returned to our hotel for tea. By this point it was really trying to rain and we spent the rest of the afternoon sitting out under the covered balcony of our little hut watching the boats go by and the sunset over the water. Beautiful.
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