Daily Archives: February 22, 2015

an afternoon in nyaungshwe & a surprise encounter to top off the day :-)

Sunday, February 22:  I whiz back into Nyaungshwe on my bicycle, feeling pretty good after the flight of wines at Red Mountain Vineyard.  Although it took me a while to find my way TO the winery, I was able to remember the route back quite easily, despite feeling a bit loopy. 🙂  Earlier, I had seen the Yadana Man Aung Paya not far from my hotel, so I lock my bicycle at the entrance and go in to wander about.  There, much to my surprise, I run into Sunoko, the Japanese lady from Shanghai who I met in Bagan, the one who was struggling mightily with her e-bike, just as I had.  Although Myanmar is a small country, and the tourist route is quite similar for all tourists, I’m still surprised that I should run into her here at Nyaungshwe, a plane flight or a long bus ride away from where I met her in Bagan.  It turned out she met a group of young people in Bagan and took the bus with them to Inle Lake.  We chat for a while and then arrange to have dinner together tonight at 7:30 at Everest Nepali Food.

Yadana Man Aung Paya

Yadana Man Aung Paya

Yadana Man Aung Paya, a pretty gilded stupa south of the Mingala Market, is the oldest and most important Buddhist shrine in Nyaungshwe.

Yadana Man Aung Paya

Yadana Man Aung Paya

Yadana Man Aung Paya

Yadana Man Aung Paya

The pavilion on the grounds contains treasures collected by monks over the centuries, including lacquerware, carvings, and dance costumes.

Yadana Man Aung Paya

Yadana Man Aung Paya

The stepped stupa is unique in Myanmar.

Yadana Man Aung Paya

Yadana Man Aung Paya

Yadana Man Aung Paya

Yadana Man Aung Paya

Nyaungshwe is the main access point for Inle Lake; it sits at the lake’s north end.  After exploring the pagoda, I walk along the canal and watch the bustle and buzz of the famous long-tail motorboats.

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

I love places like this that are a bit scruffy, but colorful and bustling.

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

looking down on the boat

looking down on the boat

busy canal

busy canal

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

boats in Nyaungshwe

I go back to the Inle Apex Hotel to relax.  After a while, I go out to find Everest, where I’m meeting Sunoko. I arrive before she does, so I sit at a table and order a Myanmar beer.

Everest

Everest

When Sunoko arrives, she orders a beer too.  We both order some Paneer Curry that is delicious!  She tells me she’s 35 and really wants a boyfriend. She tells me about a German guy she really likes, but he seems to only think of her as a friend.  I tell her my daughter has been caught up on a guy she’s known since high school; she’s experiencing the same situation.  Unrequited love is the worst!

Paneer Curry at Everest

Paneer Curry at Everest

After dinner, I go back to my room to get a good night’s sleep before a dawn departure for my all-day boat ride around Inle Lake. I’m exhausted since I’ve been up and going since 4:30 this morning, when I left Bagan.  I’m excited to explore this beautiful lake I’ve heard so much about. 🙂

 

Categories: Asia, Everest Nepali Food, Inle Lake, Myanmar, Nyaungshwe, Shan State, Yadana Man Aung Paya | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

a bicycle ride to red mountain estate vineyards & winery

Sunday, February 22:  After leaving the Nigyawdayan Stupa, I pedal up the main two lane highway along the northeast side of Inle Lake.  I don’t have any views of the lake at this point; I’m on my way to the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery and I enjoy the breeze on this warm day and the views of the mountains and farmland.

on the road to Red Mountain Winery

on the road to Red Mountain Winery

on the road to Red Mountain Winery

on the road to Red Mountain Winery

I’m not exactly sure where I’m going and it seems quite a long ride out into the middle of nowhere.  Finally, I come upon a road veering to the left with a sign for the winery.  It looks like I’m going to reach my destination after all!

the end is in sight!

the end is in sight!

I can see the winery up on a hill quite a way ahead, and I pedal hard to climb the hill, passing by some homes along the way.

through the neighborhood

through the neighborhood

house outside of Nyaungshwe

house outside of Nyaungshwe

The Red Mountain Estate was started in 2002.  The estate was chosen for its special micro-climate, cool nights and sunny days during the fruit cycle.  The goal was to produce high quality wines 100% made in Myanmar and supervised by French and Australian experts.  The vineyard is planted with red varieties such as Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Carignan, and Malbec.  White varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin and Colombard.  All vines were imported from France, Spain and Israel, according to a pamphlet from the winery.

I continue up the hill on my bicycle, keeping the winery in sight.

farms and mountains

farms and mountains

The hill gets quite steep as I approach the winery, and I see some people have left bicycles at the bottom of the hill.  I follow suit and lock up my bike beside the others.

vineyards at Red Mountain Winery

vineyards at Red Mountain Winery

Red Mountain Winery

Red Mountain Winery

up the steps to Red Mountain Winery

up the steps to Red Mountain Winery

After walking up to the winery, I go inside, where it’s quite crowded and noisy.  I order a flight of wines and ask for it to be served on the terrace.  It’s a lot quieter, though quite hot, outside.  It has a lazy and relaxed atmosphere.

I sit and enjoy the view and my wine flight.  Since I’m on my own, I take some selfies; they’re from some strange angles. 🙂  Here I enjoy my wine, although I’m a little jealous of the people who are here with friends.  Though most of the time I don’t mind traveling alone, there are times like these when I wish I had a friend along.

Cheers!

Cheers!

my view

my view

tourists relaxing at the winery

tourists relaxing at the winery

happy in Myanmar

happy in Myanmar

I do ask the waiter to take a picture of me, so I do get one decent photo.  I’m feeling pretty good after drinking the whole flight!

me at Red Mountain Estate Winery

me at Red Mountain Estate Winery

After finishing my flight of wines, I also order a glass of Shiraz-Tempranillo accompanied by toast with cheese; it is simply white bread cut into triangles with sliced cheese cut into triangles.  Nothing to write home about, especially after that wonderful pancake I had at Pancake Kingdom.

By this time, I’m feeling pretty relaxed. 🙂  I wander around the vineyard taking some pictures, then walk back down the hill to where I left my bicycle.

vineyards

vineyards

vineyards

vineyards

leaving the vineyard

leaving the vineyard

I unlock my bicycle, take some parting shots of the winery, and hop back on for the long ride back to town.

parting views

parting views

I stop at several spots along the way that are particularly bucolic.

fields along the way

fields along the way

pastoral view

pastoral view

stupa

stupa

pastoral view

pastoral view

construction

construction

When I finally get back to town, I make a stop at Yadana Man Aung Paya, where I find a nice surprise!

Categories: Asia, Myanmar, Nyaungshwe, Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery, Shan State | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

a hop, skip & a jump from bagan to heho. settling into nyaungshwe.

Sunday, February 22:  This morning, I get a wake-up call at 4:30 a.m. and by 5:30, I’m at the Nyaung U Airport for a 6:00 check-in with Asian Wings.  Though the hotel had told me the night before they’d pack me a breakfast, they forgot and so did I.  After I check in at the very small airport, I ask if there is a place to grab a bite.  A man gestures to “go outside,” pointing outside the airport gates.  I walk across the parking lot and out the gate and have a seat at a small open-air cafe with a dirt floor, so typically found in Myanmar. I make myself comfortable at a plastic table covered in a colorful flowered tablecloth.

Cafe outside Bagan Airport

Cafe outside Bagan Airport

I order two fried eggs and coffee.  They bring me two small plates with an egg on each plate, and two tiny spoons.  After unsuccessfully trying to cut up the egg with the spoon, I ask for a knife.  I’m surprised when they bring out a huge cleaver!  I love how Myanmar is so innocent and at the same time so civilized!

Eggs with a cleaver

Eggs with a cleaver

While I eat my breakfast, I’m serenaded by a flock of birds chirping in a nearby tree.  It reminds me of the birds that would congregate near sunset at the Golden Tulip hotel in Nizwa, Oman, singing their hearts out.

My flight with Asian Wings is at 7:35 a.m.  We fly at an altitude of 7,000 feet and make a stop after 25 minutes in Mandalay.  From Mandalay to Heho is another 25 minutes.  At Heho, I take a taxi for over an hour drive to Nyaungshwe.  At one point, we stop to pay a $10 fee for Inle Lake.  I ask if there is a bathroom on the premises and they point me to an outhouse out back.

By the time I arrive in Nyaungshwe and check into the Inle Apex Hotel, it’s 11:30 a.m.

Inle Apex Hotel

Inle Apex Hotel

I immediately grab my camera and head out a couple of blocks to the canal, where I saw a lot of colorful boats on the way in.  I walk along the waterfront, watching the bustling activity of the long-tail motorboats buzzing down the canal, most likely heading out to Inle Lake. While down at the canal, I arrange with a man along the docks to take a boat ride on the lake tomorrow morning beginning at dawn.

long-tail motorboats used for plying the waters at Inle Lake

long-tail motorboats used for plying the waters at Inle Lake

long-tail motorboats

long-tail motorboats

dock and long-tail motorboats

dock and long-tail motorboats

busy canal

busy canal

colorful boats

colorful boats

boats neatly lined up

boats neatly lined up

idle and busy boats

idle and busy boats

By this time, it’s noon and I’m hungry.  After all, I just had those two tiny eggs for breakfast.  On https://catbirdinthemekong.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/a-slow-cruise-down-the-ayeyarwady-river-from-mandalay-to-bagan/, someone had recommended a couple of restaurants, one being Pancake Kingdom.  I find the sign pointing down an alley right beside my hotel.

Inle Pancake Kingdom

Inle Pancake Kingdom

I walk down the alley and capture a local woman carrying a basket on her head.

local woman in Nyaungshwe

local woman in Nyaungshwe

It’s plenty warm here in Nyaungshwe, so I’m happy to sit in the shade and peruse the menu. An array of sweet and savory pancakes (crepes) are offered, and I order a tomato, onion, cheese and avocado pancake for 4,000 kyat ($4).  Every bite of this crepe is delectable, and I don’t want it to end!  I vow to come back before I leave Inle Lake.

my table at Pancake Kingdom

my table at Pancake Kingdom

menu at Pancake Kingdom

menu at Pancake Kingdom

pancake with tomato, onion, cheese and avocado

pancake with tomato, onion, cheese and avocado

After my fabulous lunch, I rent a bicycle from the hotel.  I’m sad to find that no e-bikes are allowed in Nyaungshwe.  The proprietors show me on a map how to get to the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery.   It seems quite a convoluted and confusing route, but I’m determined to go as fellow travelers had also recommended this experience.

I get a little lost on the bike ride, and somehow end up at Nigyawdayan Stupa.  I wander around the deserted stupa serenaded by the tinkling of wind chimes in the breeze.  It’s magical and I wander around for sometime enjoying the experience.

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Biddakayasar Sawbwa built a stupa in sasana calendar year 235, enshrining a Buddha relic in it.  In sasana calendar year 280, he built a monastery called Nigyawdayan Monastery, which he dedicated to Buddha. He also renovated the stupa, calling it Nigyawdayan Stupa.  In Myanmar calendar year 1200, the stupa was destroyed by an earthquake; it was renovated in 1242. In 1274, it was destroyed again, and then renovated once more in 1296.

A long time later, the stupa was destroyed again and covered in wild grass, shrubs and trees. It was “like a forest and a good place for the wild animals,” says a plaque at the site.  It was renovated once again in 1369.

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

Nigyawdayan Stupa

local woman walking near Nigyawdayan Stupa

local woman walking near Nigyawdayan Stupa

After leaving this mesmerizing stupa, I hop back on my bicycle and head out to the main road toward the Red Mountain Estate Winery, after asking several people along the road for directions.

Categories: Asia, Asian Wings, Inle Apex Hotel, Inle Lake, Myanmar, Nigyawdayan Stupa, Nyaung U Airport, Nyaungshwe, Shan State, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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