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Published: April 21st 2011
INLE LAKE and NYAUNGSHWE
This was a more tranquil, yet still awesome experience in Myanmar.
I feared I’d not enjoy Inle, fearful the area would be crowded with tourists since it’s one of the top destinations in the country. My fear was in vain, as there were very few visitors around and the ones I did meet turn out to be great travel companions.
At arrival at Heho airstrip, my pre-arranged taxi driver awaited for me. His vehicle was old and beat-up, his driving too fast for my taste and safety standards, but the 45 minute drive to Nyaungshwe presented me with unexpected treats:
- First we encountered a huge procession ceremony on its way to a Buddhist temple. Music, women caring offerings on their heads or arms, little girls to become novices at the monastery all dressed up and wearing heavy make-up, riding on horses, carefully guided by their proud fathers. They waved to me, glad to be filmed.
- Than we stopped at a stunning and exquisite teak wood monastery with oval windows. It was SHWE YAN PYAY MONASTERY
, where some monks chanted, some walked around and a novice was having his hair
shaved, right there on the main patio. There was an area filled with Buddha images encrusted on the walls. Lovely.
-Back on our way, trashy pick-ups packed solid with people hanging off the back and the usual sights of kids everywhere.
The pre-arranged GH was really bad, and I immediately decided I’d move by the next day. Too hungry and a little tired, I decided to get a bite at Smiling Moon Restaurant. It wasn’t long, and there I was chatting with Pepe and Silvia from Spain when we felt the earthquake. (described on the previous blog)
Next morning, moved to the very nice Teakwood GH, since lovely Aquarius Inn was full, and headed to the dock to catch the long boat for the day long trip on INLE LAKE. And what a day it was! CRUISING ON SERENE INLE LAKE
At times, the lake was so serene. INTHA FISHERMEN
seating on the slim flat bottom boat by their UNIQUE CONE-SHAPED FISH NET, or standing so quietly, their silhouette reflected on the still lake reflected back like on a mirror. Incredible beauty!
At other times, the fisherman seemed to dance to the sound of
this gentle melody, having as partners the one paddle wrapped around one of his legs, swirling the water slowly as he rows . This was the performance of the unique INTHA LEG-ROWING technique, which frees the arms to toss net and fish. An amazing display of equilibrium and agility.
Yet, from time to time, the almost meditative state of the lake was broken by the sound of motorized longboats caring people, mostly locals, merchandise, crops, and you name it.
We stopped at MAING THOUK VILLAGE
for its market. Let the pictures tell the stories: pharmacy on the floor, gas sold by the liter…
At the “Jumping Cat Monastery” (NGA HPE CHAUNG), thank Buddha we didn’t have to endure the cat show. The “actors”(cats) were just lying around, so we just walked admiring the beauty of the ancient Buddha collection. They were a few novice monks and locals praying.
After an OK lunch, we headed for a tranquil boat “stroll” trough the narrow canals of the INTHA VILLAGES
, with the picturesque stilt houses, the floating gardens with people tending to them, and tons of kids waving to us from boats, windows, and the little strips of land
by some of the homes.
THE VILLAGE OF INTHEIN: On the way to the village, we could see monks, buffaloes, cows, women, all in the Inle water bathing or washing clothes or just playing. It was very hot by the time we walked to the NYAUNG OHAK
, a group of shrines and stupas, ancient and new. The SHWE INN THEIN STUPAS
, a collection of ancient brick weathered stupas, many with overgrown vegetation taking over them, was my favorite. They have escaped renovation and are enchanting.
We were VERY, VERY assertive about demanding not to be taken to shops by the boat driver. I mean, we were practically rude, refusing to get off the boat when the “captain” would still take us to a certain shop stop after we had agreed to a “NO shopping” trip.
The sunset itself wasn’t as splendid as I imagined it would be, but it was the placid gigantic lake that exuded beauty and made the time so special. It had cooled down considerably and the silhouette of the many fishermen quietly working at sunset mimicked the scene at sunrise. Serene and beautiful. I know tomorrow morning it will be the same, and
so it will be the day after. And so is life on Inle Lake. Still tranquil...
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