Disclaimer: Inle Lake has three posts so stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3.
Myanmar is unlike any place I had every been. Visiting this country allowed me a glimpse into another world; a different type of life. One you hear about but rarely see.
We started our Myanmar aka Burma experience in Yangon but were only there for a quick night before heading to Inle Lake. Inle is located in the Shan State which is one of the seven states. There are also seven regions so the country is broken up into 14 sections.
We flew into Nyaungshwe airport and stayed at Inle Star Motel which I would suggest. We took a cab from the airport and it was about a 45minute drive. When we saw the horse drawn carts on the side of the road being used as a main source for transportation we knew we weren’t in touristy Thailand anymore.
We checked into our hotel and got ready for the day; we only had a day and half in Inle and needed to keep moving. We decided this first day we would do the boat ride on the lake where you are taken to different places and sites over about a seven hour period.
As soon as you walk up to the dock (and the dock was maybe 10 feet from our door step) someone will come up to you and work out your schedule and the cost. We paid about 18,000 Kyat or $15 USD and also got assistance in getting beers and waters—the essentials.
As we jumped on board I noticed our boat driver, he looked about 15 years old and his teeth were stained from chewing beetle nuts. It is an areca nut with tobacco wrapped in a betel leaf and it stains your teeth red. You can’t not notice this while in Myanmar.
We started in Nyaung Shwe which was where we were staying. You can see in the map how far north it was. About 10,000 Inthas live around Inle and use the fresh water lake for survival. As soon as we entered the lake we saw the infamous leg rowers where the fisherman stand on one leg at the end of their boats and use their other leg to spin the paddle and move the boat. The method was designed because the lake has a lot of reeds and by standing up you can see down into the water and steer better. It is a pretty impressive maneuver. The picture below is staged and they come up to your boat and expect money. They no longer use those big funnel net but instead mesh nets.
We stopped at a few different shops/houses that were selling teak wood carvings, another that was selling silver, and another that was selling lotus robes and scarves. They would create string out of the lotus plant fibers.
At lunch I had a Inle Lake Fish curry but Sarena got shan khauk swe or Shan Noodles (pictured below) which is a local dish to the Shan State.
We went to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda which we were told isn’t worth seeing but the stop came with our package. The five buddha statues look exactly like their pictures, unrecognizable. It was good to get off the boat and walk around but like others have said not really worth seeing.
Indein was my favorite stop. It is a small town and where you see lots of pagodas. There is a small school we walked past to enter the village where kids were playing soccer and each shop was also a home where we could see the families. We walked around peaking in and then experienced the abundance of pagodas for the first time.
Our final stop was to Jumping Cat Monastery which I was so excited for. Unfortunately we arrived and the monks were in the process of getting dinner ready so there were lots of cats to be seen but no jumping.
We head back up to Nyaung Shwe and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. This was the perfect way to experience the lake.
Next up dinner!
The monastery (below) without the jumping cats.