Lake Inle

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Feb 16, 2006

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Remember Inn

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Friday, December 9, 2005

From Bagan we decided to go back east to the Shan State. We got on a horrible minibus at 4 am to Kalaw, a little mountain town. The bus ride was horrible because the seats were about wide enough for a 5year old kid so they crammed a ton of Westerners in there. My shoulders are not the widest but I couldn't sit straight. Happily after a few hours the bus emptied a bit and we had more room to breathe. We started climbing the mountains and the road was getting dangerously narrow. Crossing another bus reminded me of the scarry moments along the Strada de la Muerte in Bolivia. But we mad it to Kalaw.

We found a little guesthouse and met Hugh from Australia and Yanev from Israel. We had a fun dinner together. They were going on a trek the next day but we decided to rest for a day. Next morning we slept in and went to the weekly market. It was very colorful with flowers and beautiful vegetables, but there is always the dried fish alley which makes us run for cover. We booked a trek but by the end of the day it started raining. Next morning we woke up and the rain was pounding the roof so we decided to cancel. By the middle of the day Yanev and Hugh came back pretty drenched so we were happy we cancelled. Insted we got a few drinks together and decided to continue directly to Lake Inle, further to the south.

Next morning we took a bus and a shared taxi to Nuang Shwe, the little town on Lake Inle. It is a cute little town, pretty touristic, which is kind of a welcome change for Myanmar. We even got a pizza for dinner! Rice every day get boring...

We found a nice hotel called the Remember Inn and we will remember it because it was cosy and people were really sweet and helpful. I recommend it to anybody going there!
The attraction there is of course the lake. It is a really shallo lake full of seaweed. There are a lot of floating villages where people cultivate tomatoes and other stuff on little floating islands. We took a little boat and set off to discover a few villages. We also visited a place where they make a type of silk from lotus flowers. The weaving is really impressive with old fashioned wooden machines. We also visited the monastary of the jumping Cats. Apparently these monks have too much time to kill so they trained their cats to jump through hoops about 1 m from the ground. It's pretty funny to watch. It's the stinkiest monastary I've ever been to though...

Next day together with Hugh we rented bikes and biked around the lake to find the hot springs. It's a beautiful ride but with these bikes the slightest hill becomes an incredible challenge uphill and a scarry race downhill since the brakes don't really work. We arrived at the hotsprings and paid to get in. What they hadn't told us was that men and women are separate so I go to the women's side. There were 5 local woman wrapped in their longjis (sarong) from head to toe and one of them was scrubbing her toes in a basin filled with brown water. I turned around quickly just to see that the guys had had the same experience. Not exactly a big success, but definitely funny.

The following day we decided to go on a trek with Yaniv and Hugh. We had met a cool tour office owner the night before and after a smoke with him he convinced us to climb a mountain on the next day. Funny how things happen. So we set off in the morning. First we squeezed in a little horsecart and got rattled around for a few miles. Then the hard work started. It was pretty hot and we were all sweating behind our guide who just ran uphill without apparent difficulty. I guess the nights of drinking and sleeping in most morning doesn't help to get you into shape.

The views were beautiful and we were slowly discovering the lake and surrounding mountains. we passed all kinds of plantations including the cherut trees whose leaves are used to wrap the local sweet cigars. Around lunch we reached the top of the mountain and we were welcomed in one of his friends's bamboo huts. They prepared a good lunch for us starved tourists and then we took a little nap on the bamboo floor while the guys were enjoying a cherut. Life's not too bad.
On the hike down we met a man and woman carrying huge baskets full of rice crackers. Our guide insisted on us getting some so we continued our little hike nibbling on these huge and pretty much tasteless crackers. We later found out that it was a bad idea. When we arrived in Niang Shwe we had to cross the less tousitic part of town and it was really cute how all the kids were running after us, saying hello and giving us little flowers. They are really adorable.
After the hike we met Yaniv for a quick dinner and went back to pack since we were taking the morning bus to Yangon. or so we thought. In the middle of the night I was woken up by very loud and unpleasant noises coming from the bathroom. Apparently he had had the bad luck of getting the "surprise" cracker. So next morning there was no way we could take the bus. Happily we had a spare day and could change the bus tickets to the next day.

And here we are on our last bus ride through Myanmar. Happily it was a better bus than others and we could even sleep a bit. We got to the airport without problems and boarded the plane to Bangkok without problems.

Bye Myanmar! I hope we will be back!
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