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.

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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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14 thoughts on “a hop, skip & a jump from bagan to heho. settling into nyaungshwe.

  1. Now I know what the strange black thing is. A different world.

  2. I just knew you’d find a winery if there was one in the area

  3. You really do find the best places!

    • Thanks, Gilly. Myanmar turned out to be one of the best places ever. Definitely my favorite Asian place, right along with Cambodia. Especially Bagan and Inle Lake. More to come on the latter. 🙂

  4. The food in Myanmar didn’t upset your stomache then, Cathy? I guess it depends what they fry in. Good looking crepe 🙂 And a pretty pink stupa. That water in the lake seemed very brown but cute little boats.
    Anything from Adam, Cathy? How goes the clearance? I’ll be out of the loop from Monday so I’ll try and catch you when I’m back.

    • I never got sick in Myanmar, Jo, after being sick almost the entire year in China. That crepe was so delicious, I can’t tell you!! 🙂 I can’t wait to post my pictures of the actual lake. I have A LOT as you can imagine! It doesn’t look so brown as the canal.

      No word at all from Adam. I think he’s afraid to contact us, and we are angry enough that we don’t feel like bothering to reach out to him. He’s due to come back Monday; we’ll see if he does and what he says then.

      The decluttering is going full force ahead. I’m making progress but it’s slow. You can also read about it on my latest post! 🙂 You won’t be shocked as you know my propensity to collect! xxx

      • 🙂 🙂 I’ll check it out this evening. Struggling to finish posting/answering comments before I go. Not to mention James laundry. (you know I’m a sucker 🙂 )

  5. I think you visited Myanmar just in time Cathy, the food looks delicious. How did they know you would be fed up of rice??? in another 5-10 years it will be touristyfied…

    • I’m so glad I was able to go to Myanmar when I did, Pauline. That “pancake” was delicious! I was there during the high season, and it is already getting “toursityfied” but I’m sure you’re right that it will get worse with time. I want to see Cuba now before it gets too touristy too. I fear it will be inundated before long!

      • I have heard Cuba is already getting lots of American visitors so you better be quick. Cuba is a place I would love to visit too.

      • I think you’re right, Pauline; it won’t be long before Cuba will be packed with tourists. I still want to go, sooner rather than later if possible. 🙂

      • Hope you do get there I’ll look forward to hopping in your cyber suitcase… 🙂

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