Magical Myanmar: Inle Lake
From Bagan, we went to Inle Lake by bus. We knew that there was a trek from Kalaw to the Lake that is well known and appreciated by tourists, however we decided not to do it as we had done a trek in Kyaukme. From the feedback we got from other tourists, the Kyaukme trek was less touristy and more interesting.
For financial reasons, we decided to sleep in Nyaungshwe (a village next to the lake) and not on the lake itself. We whole-heartedly recommend the Lady Princess Hotel; it was the cheapest hotel of our trip and the nicest – decorated room, hot water, kind personnel, etc. The one thing to do at Inle Lake is to rent a boat and leave the places you visit up to the driver, as he will bring you to all the places you need to see. Because everyone visits the same places on the lake, we were lucky to travel during the rainy season and thus not have too many tourists. In the evening, we found a nice and tasty little Italian restaurant owned by some Burmese, where we celebrated the birthday of one of the guys. They will probably tell you their story: an Italian woman taught them how to cook and serve in the Italian way for three days, and then went back to Rome. A few weeks later, they received a pasta machine and seeds from Rome.
On our last day in Nyaungshwe, we hired a cab, drove for a couple of hours and visited the Pindaya Caves with its 8,000 Buddhas (or more). Our driver suggested to us a stop in a sunshade workshop. We could see the construction of all types of sunshades, and their skill was breathtaking. Besides this, the owner wanted to share her skill while still being interested in you. Of course, we all now have a sunshade in our living room.
Having done the three stops we planned before our trip, we still had a few days before taking the plane back home. We decided then to go to the south to visit the Golden Rock, Hpa-An and Mawlamyine. Our first stop was the Golden Rock. After fourteen hours of traveling, we finally arrived in the village under the Golden Rock. To go up, you need to walk for six hours or sit in the back of the truck for an hour. We chose the truck option, spent an hour on a natural roller coaster and were soaked because of the monsoon. At the top, it was so rainy we couldn’t see anything. Tip: it is not worth going to the Golden Rock when it is raining.
Luckily for us, Hpa-An and Mawlamyine allowed us to leave Burma on a better note.
Hpa-An in itself is not really interesting, but its surroundings are worth your time. Hire a tuk-tuk for the day and he will bring you to the places you need to see. Through our hotel, we were able to share a tuk-tuk, meet a great French woman and save some money. We got to see three great caves with numerous Buddhas. We got to go through one with our flashlight and come out on the other side of the mountain to a gorgeous view. In another one, we climbed to the top of the hill to see the typical rice field view. In the last one, we went swimming in a natural pool with Burmese teens. We also visited a monastery balancing rocks on top of a small island surrounded by an artificial lake with koï fish. In total, a great day for cheap.
And Mawlamyine? You’ll read that in our concluding Myanmar article next week!
In this “Magical Myanmar” mini-series, Nadège de Beauffort and Dorothée Brabant recount their adventures in Myanmar. Photos were taken by the guys traveling with them: Maximilien Le Fevere de Ten Hove and Nicolas Coomans.