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Published: June 20th 2019
SERENITY INLE RESORT
Beautiful accommodations and helpful staff.
SURPRISING LAKE INLE
The bus was cold and uncomfortable and the trip was long. I endured. When we were close to our destination I had to change vehicles. Now I was traveling in the early dawn in an open tuk tuk…a small bus with the sides and back cut away…I was even colder, and I had to find a toilet. I was the only passenger so the driver kindly took me to his home and allowed me to use the facilities, kind of like a primitive sani-can. The rest of the drive to my hotel took about 45 minutes, with me huddled against the cab, wrapped in my trusty scarf/shawl (never leave home without it). We arrived. Except there was no hotel in sight. Soon several people gathered, my luggage was unloaded and we walked down the dirt path toward the lake.
The hotel as it emerged, looked like it was floating on the lake. The Serenity Inle Hotel is a Malaysian like construction of dark wood and soaring roofs, two large structures and many smaller ones, with wrap around wooden walkways and all of it suspended over the lake on pilings. The affable manager led me
A ROOM FIT FOR A PRINCESS
Such a beautiful room...serenity is the perfect description.
from these buildings to a large concrete building against a hill on solid ground. It looked out at the lake and immediately in front was an enormous infinity pool. I had chosen the cheapest room so I could not be disappointed, but no sooner had the man opened the door to my room, than he shook his head, locked it up and said he would upgrade me to a suite on the water.
“I love my beautiful room with so many windows,” I wrote in my journal. The floor was smooth wood and the bed had a soaring mosquito net. There was a small settee and coffee table, a few comfortable rattan chairs, a small private deck, and a lovely bathroom with a tub. One pleasant, daily touch from management was a personalized hand lettered message of kind encouragement, left on my pillow every night.
I noticed a massage/spa next to the reception desk so I booked a massage before settling down for a shower and a nap. I chose an aromatherapy massage; it was so relaxing. Then I had a good breakfast at their 5 star restaurant on the water. It must be off season because there
We're on our way.
was no one else in the dining hall. I extended my stay by two days.
I slept till early evening, then had a very good, very reasonably priced dinner. As I passed reception, I decided to book a boat tour for the next day. I also asked about taking a plane back to Mandalay, but the concierge told me I already had a return bus ticket. I thought a minute, then asked how much the return bus ticket had cost? $10! I told him I would take a taxi to the airport. I went back to my room and made an airline reservation.
I was up early the next day and had a good breakfast, then went to the dock to meet my boat. I was the only passenger and I felt a bit like Katherine Hepburn in "The African Queen," not gliding silently on the water, but still it was fun to be the only passenger in a small boat on a big lake. Inle is 13.5 miles long and 7 miles wide and is only 15 feet deep. Much of the shallows at the edge are clogged with water lilies. The boatman had no trouble pressing
I look like I am playing dress up, but the scarf works as a sun break or a wind break
through the plants to clear water. He did not stand on one leg and paddle the boat with the other like the YouTube boatmen. It appears that current tour guides prefer small motors that are faster and throw up a huge rooster tail of water as they go from place to place. As we got closer to the far shore I could see the hydroponic farms clearly…strange to see the plants growing in neat rows with no soil. Periodically in the canals there are dams made of long pointed sticks thrust into the lake bottom, perhaps to slow traffic, or the water itself. Looking like spears, they were intimidating, and scary, as the boatman powered through narrow openings that were hard to discern. Yikes!
Our first stop was a small village, with…you guessed it…a large local market. And my boatmen said, “Just follow that road and you will come to the pagoda."? I definitely need more directions than this. I wasn’t going to go in the market, but I thought what else will I do? So in I went, and I bought. It was fun and the people were so nice.
It was hot and I told myself
The current was pretty fast and I hated to think what the result would be if we missed the opening.
I didn’t have to walk to the pagoda. A nagging voice in my head told me "a little walk will do you good." It was not a little walk. Maybe I missed the pagoda, because after an hour I still hadn’t seen anything. Finally I went up a side road; and up, and up. I passed a new monastery and spied more stairs up to the old monastery. It was very primitive, but there was a terrific view, and I had a feeling of accomplishment when I stood there high on the top of the hill. On my way back I decided I would accept a ride from anyone who would take me back to the village, but as I trudged on and on, no one took pity on me. At last I limped back into the village.
I found my boatman on the bank and we continued our tour. He took me to another market where I found earrings to match the necklace I had bought. But the real purpose of the stop was to see the women from the Paduang tribe who wear the brass rings around their necks, arms and ankles. There were two older sisters
The people live off the lake, fishing and farming, And tourism, of course.
each with a teen-age granddaughter. One sister spoke with me while the other continued weaving. She told me the brass weighs more than 8 kilo…that’s a lot of weight, although some of it is around the leg and ankle, too. One of the teen-agers told me that the practice is becoming less popular. Only a few girls will do it. (I read several articles for this blog and the government forbade the tribe to continue this practice. I also learned that the neck is not stretched, rather the shoulders are deformed by the practice and compress the lungs, making the neck look longer.) The women were all pleasant and willing to talk. I asked one of the girls what she hoped to do with her life; if she had dreams about traveling, and she asked, “Why?”
It was getting hotter and the boat pulled up to a restaurant. I was glad to stretch my legs and get undercover, out of the sun. After a refreshing lunch we returned to the boat. We stopped at a silver smith where I watched the artisans heat and work the silver into jewelry. Next was a tobacco shop, where local women make small
ALWAYS CHANGING VIEWS
I am not sure how long this tour usually lasts...I am kind of a wimp and asked to return to the hotel early.
cigars. I don’t smoke so I didn’t try the different flavors, but I bought a small box of assorted cigars for a friend. The next stop was a visit to a family boat building shop and I talked to a nice young man who was the youngest son of a family of 12. He explained the differences between the three styles of boats they make. Following this my boatman said we would go to a textile shop. Although I do a lot of sewing, I was tired and I had spent enough money. I decided I had enough of shops and asked that we return to the hotel. He agreed, but first he said I must not miss the temple. I made a quick walk around the interior, avoiding the vendors. My camera and cell phone were both full so I only got one photo. I had a great day on the lake but it was a relief to get back to the hotel…and the spa, for another massage.
The next morning I packed up, had a great breakfast and chatted with the hotel owner and his wife. The manager of my hotel in Mandalay called and told the
While waiting for my boatman I enjoyed watching the children swim, then drift back to their starting point.
desk clerk to remind Linda not to lose her glasses. I thought this was funny. I had one more massage, Thai this time. It was a relief to work out all the kinks and painful spots from my travel worn body. I took a very modern taxi to the airport and had an easy trip back to Mandalay.
At the airport I decided to save money and take a shuttle to my hotel. It took two hours to fill the shuttle before we could leave, then an additional two hours to drop off all the other passengers. A taxi is sometimes the better choice. When I got inside the hotel I realized I had left my glasses in the shuttle - I had lost them after all, but the handmade sign by Schue Yi, welcoming me back to Mandalay, cheered me up.
I can’t say enough about the support and help I got from the staff at Duo Swan Hotel. Schue Yi did a wonderful job of arranging hotels and transport to Bagan and Lake Inle.
I am filled with wonderful memories of Burma.
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