Shan State

pindaya: buddhas in the thousands at shwe oo min natural cave pagoda

Wednesday, February 25:  We arrive at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda at 11:00 a.m. My driver deposits me at the bottom and I follow the long walkway up the limestone ridge. I can see views of Pone Taloke Lake and the town below.

The approach to Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda

The approach to Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda

The giant spider at the entrance hints at the outrageous sights I’ll encounter inside the cave.

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

archer

archer

giant spider

giant spider

view from Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

view from Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

walkway to the pagoda

walkway to the pagoda

view from Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya - Pone Taloke Lake

view from Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya – Pone Taloke Lake

view on walkway to Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

view on walkway to Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

view of Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

view of Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

After climbing the steps, I take a lift to avoid the last 130 steps.

Inside the cave, I encounter Buddha figures in staggering numbers.   At last count, the caves showcased 8,094 Buddha statues.  Some were left centuries ago by Myanmar pilgrims and others were installed more recently by international Buddhist organizations in lands as far away as the Netherlands, the USA, and Singapore.  (Lonely Planet Myanmar, July 2014 edition)

Buddhas at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Buddhas at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Of course, the many Buddhas need a plethora of offerings from the faithful pilgrims who visit today in steady streams.  New pilgrims deposit new images and mediate in the cave’s grottoes and chambers carved naturally into the walls.

offerings for the thousands of Buddhas

offerings for the thousands of Buddhas

The Buddhas come in all flavors: alabaster, teak, cement, marble, brick and lacquer.

Buddha at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Buddha at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Buddhas at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Buddhas at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Buddhas at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Buddhas at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Elephant Mooring Post

Elephant Mooring Post

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

a Buddha sit-in

The caves are packed with so many Buddhas that it’s difficult to move around.  Everywhere you look, eyes are staring at you.

Buddhas in the cave

Buddhas in the cave

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

serpent overhang

serpent overhang

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

the Pindaya caves

the Pindaya caves

intricate Buddha

intricate Buddha

Buddha and subjects

Buddha and subjects

more Buddhas

more Buddhas

monsters

monsters

teeth!

teeth!

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

MAZE ??

MAZE ??

Buddhas at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Buddhas at Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Pindaya

After visiting the cave, we head to the open-air Golden Moon Restaurant for lunch.

Menu at the Golden Moon Restaurant

Menu at the Golden Moon Restaurant

view from the Golden Moon

view from the Golden Moon

The Golden Moon Restaurant

The Golden Moon Restaurant

diners at the Golden Moon Restaurant

diners at the Golden Moon Restaurant

Here I eat a delicious lunch of potato curry with rice, accompanied by papaya juice.  I top it off with a can of Myanmar beer, which, to no surprise, will cause me to ask the driver to make another stop along the road so I can pee again!

potato curry with rice

potato curry with rice

a truck full of locals

a truck full of locals

I get to Heho airport at 2:30, way too early for my 5:00 flight.  I have to sit around an hour before I can even check my bag.

waiting at Heho Airport

waiting at Heho Airport

When I’m finally able to check my bag, the woman at Immigration asks to see my passport. She writes the number in a ledger!  I’m not at all surprised that there is no computer system; Myanmar seems to exist in a time warp, frozen in the 1950s.

I sit in the waiting room for a long time.  I use the bathroom twice, thinking it is the ladies’ room.  The third time, I scrutinize the picture on the door and realize I’ve been using the men’s room!  I can’t find a trash can anywhere in the airport, so I leave my debris (a water bottle and Snickers wrapper) inside the stall of the men’s room.

I love how at Heho (and Bagan) airports, the planes fly right up to the door.  A young man grabs a whiteboard sign listing the airline and flight.  He runs to the gate (or door) with the sign, shouting out the name of the flight. Passengers line up, walk out to the tarmac, and climb a ladder up to the plane.  The flight attendants quickly close the door and we immediately take off down the runway!

Heho Airport

Heho Airport

Flying to Yangon

Flying to Yangon

My arrival in Yangon is not much more sophisticated.  We get off on the tarmac and the luggage is simply loaded directly into the arrivals hall.  There is no luggage carousel.  I find an air-conditioned taxi service for 9,000 kyat ($9).  It takes about an hour to arrive at Agga Youth Hotel on No. 86, 12th St.

At the hotel, a short Russian guy is arguing with the staff because they apparently lost some of his laundry.  He tells me he packs light and only has a few clothes with him and now they’ve lost them!

I check into room 202 which is very small and unimpressive, despite the fact that this hotel was highly recommended by several people along my journey.  I settle grumpily into the room, exhausted from my long day, and as I’m too tired to go out, I eat a bag of Oishi Ribbed Cracklings in Chicken Curry Flavor and drink a bottle of water. I’m eaten alive by mosquitoes all night. 😦

I already miss Bagan and Inle Lake.

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Categories: Agga Youth Hotel, Asia, Burma, Golden Moon Restaurant, Heho Airport, Myanmar, Pindaya, Shan State, Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Travel, Yangon | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

leaving inle lake: a brief stop in nyaungshwe at shwe yaunghwe kyaung

Wednesday, February 25:  This is a sad morning, as I leave the Inle Lake area at 9 a.m. for Yangon, my final destination in Myanmar. My plane actually doesn’t depart Heho airport until 5:00 p.m., but I’ve arranged a driver to take me to Pindaya for the day and then directly to the airport.

On the way out of Nyaungshwe, the driver stops at what is considered the most photographed monastery in Nyaungshwe: Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung.  With its ancient teak ordination hall, or thein, and its oval windows offering a peek at the novice monks, it’s quite charming.

entrance to Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

entrance to Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

I pay the driver 55,000 kyat (around $55) to take me for the entire day.

Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

a monk at Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

a monk at Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

little monks at Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

little monks at Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

monks & cats

monks & cats

Buddha at Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

Buddha at Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

monks studying

monks studying

monks in sunlight ovals

monks in sunlight ovals

monks in the doorway

monks in the doorway

Buddha at Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

Buddha at Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

the oval windows of Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

the oval windows of Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung

After walking around this ancient monastery, I get in the car with the driver.   The hotel has estimated it will take 2 1/2 hours to get to Pindaya, and then 1 1/2 hours from Pindaya to Heho Airport.  It actually only takes two hours to get to Pindaya, and we pass Heho Airport after the first hour, meaning it will take only 1 hour to get back to Heho.  On our drive, we pass through one of the most densely farmed areas in Myanmar, with a patchwork of dried fields and red clay.  We pass an umbrella-making factory and a cattle market.  There isn’t that much to see on the drive.  For some reason, the driver’s steering wheel is on the right and in Myanmar, cars drive on the right; this makes it hard for the driver to see around cars in front of him to pass. During the long drive, where there seem to be no facilities whatsoever, I have to ask the driver to pull over at one point so I can pee behind a tree.  It’s pretty embarrassing because a few cars drive by, and the tree isn’t big enough that it totally hides me.  Oh well, this is life in the 3rd world.   I’m sure people do this all the time out here in the middle of nowhere.

At 11:00, we arrive at our destination, the famous Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, a massive limestone cave brimming with thousands of gilded Buddha statues.

Categories: Asia, Burma, Heho Airport, Myanmar, Nyaungshwe, Pindaya, Shan State, Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

return from inthein, dinner at everest nepali, and a full-body massage :-)

Tuesday, February 24:  We push off from Inthein near 4:00 and begin our hour-plus-long ride back through the canals and villages and eventually across Inle Lake back to Nyaungshwe.

Taking off from Inthein

Taking off from Inthein

The ride back through the canals is at full-throttle, past interesting foliage, huts, and ladies bathing in the water.  We zoom under a huge variety of footbridges.

We find our first signs of civilization back in the villages, which reveal glimpses into the locals’ daily lives.

houses on the shore

houses on the shore

local boy wading

local boy wading

and the boat goes on

and the boat goes on

pagoda

pagoda

a lone man

a lone man

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buildings along the shore

buildings along the shore

maybe a hotel?

maybe a hotel?

blue roof

blue roof

gardens of Inle Lake

gardens of Inle Lake

floating gardens of Inle Lake

floating gardens of Inle Lake

floating gardens

floating gardens

multi-tiered pagoda

multi-tiered pagoda

fishermen

fishermen

going through the villages

going through the villages

village homes

village homes

village homes

village homes

village transport

village transport

village homes

village homes

village life

village life

canals

canals

locals plying the waters

locals plying the waters

local people

local people

I love watching the small families paddling through the canal-streets of the villages in the waning sunlight.

Leaving the villages, we’re back in the midst of the floating gardens, quite pretty as the sun sinks on the horizon.

the floating gardens

the floating gardens

the floating gardens

the floating gardens

the floating gardens

the floating gardens

life in the floating gardens

life in the floating gardens

the floating gardens

the floating gardens

Traffic on the canals seems to be picking up.  It must be rush hour; time to get home for dinner after a hard day’s work on the lake.

local boy paddling

local boy paddling

the floating gardens

the floating gardens

the floating gardens

the floating gardens

Finally we’re back in the middle of the lake, where we can see the fishermen taking advantage of the last hours of daylight.

fishermen on the lake

fishermen on the lake

evening on Inle Lake

evening on Inle Lake

casting nets

casting nets

evening fisherman

evening fisherman

We also pass a number of long-tailed boats filled with tourists.  I wonder where they’re going.  Maybe to one of the fancier hotels on the lake.

tourist boat

tourist boat

Back in Nyaungshwe, I go to dinner at Everest Nepali Restaurant.  It’s very quiet tonight.   I can tell the tourist season in Myanmar is winding down.

Everest Nepali Restaurant

Everest Nepali Restaurant

I have a delicious meal of Paneer Curry, rice, and chapati, with chick peas and pumpkin accompaniments.  Of course, I enjoy a Myanmar beer too. 🙂  All of this for 5,500 kyat, or $5.50.

paneer curry, rice, chapati, chick peas and pumpkin accompaniments

paneer curry, rice, chapati, chick peas and pumpkin accompaniments

As I walk back to my hotel, I pass the pagoda I visited a couple of days ago.

pagoda in Nyaungshwe

pagoda in Nyaungshwe

I also find Lavender Spa & Beauty Center where I drop in for a one-hour Aromatic Therapy full body massage for 15,000 kyat (or around $15).  I’ve had a bad cough since the day I rode the motorbike in Bagan; the cough was brought on by breathing in the dust kicked up by the bike. I still have the cough and a sore throat at this point, so the massage feels wonderfully therapeutic.  I’m nearing the end of my 6-week trip through China and Myanmar, and I think I’m beginning to be worn down by it all.  No matter how I feel, though, I’m still managing to enjoy it all! 🙂

Lavender Spa & Beauty Center

Lavender Spa & Beauty Center

Lavender Spa & Beauty Center

Lavender Spa & Beauty Center

Tomorrow, I’ll be flying to Yangon, but first I’ll visit Pindaya, a most unusual cave. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Everest Nepali Food, Inle Lake, Intha people, Inthein, Lavender Spa & Beauty Center, Myanmar, Nyaungshwe, Shan State, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

the ruined stupas and pagodas of inthein: nyaung ohak & shwe inn thein paya

Tuesday, February 24:  At about 2:30, we finally arrive at Inthein, after our 8km-long cruise through the jungle-like Inn Thein Creek, a narrow canal.  My boat driver drops me without giving much direction, so I’m not exactly sure where to go or what I’m supposed to be looking for.  After wandering aimlessly for a bit, I fall into line with some Australian tourists.  We first stumble upon a group of crumbling stupas, much like those found at the Angkor temples in Cambodia.

The lakeside village of Inthein

The lakeside village of Inthein

The Nyaung Ohak stupas are smothered in greenery, but we can still spy some ornate stucco carvings of animals, devas (types of non-human beings who share the godlike characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, happier than humans), and chinthe (lion-like creatures that are often seen at the entrances of pagodas and temples in southeast Asia).  Nyaung Ohak translates to “group of banyan trees,” according to Renown Travel.

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Buddha at Nyaung Ohak

Buddha at Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

detail at Nyaung Ohak

detail at Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

tree growing out of Nyaung Ohak

tree growing out of Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

Nyaung Ohak

I make a restroom stop at this cinderblock building with a corrugated metal roof.  From the outside, it doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually quite civilized and upscale.  Inside it has full (& clean) Western toilets with bidets!  This is a rare thing to find in most of Asia.  Myanmar never ceases to surprise me.

stylish toilets

stylish toilets

I climb up what seems like an endless (700m) covered walkway.  The local vendors are lounging about with their souvenirs.  There isn’t much business today and many of them are napping.

covered stairway to Shwe Inn Thein Paya

covered stairway to Shwe Inn Thein Paya

At the top of the covered stairway, I find Shwe Inn Thein Paya, a complex of 1,054 weather-beaten zedi (stupas).  Most of them were constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries, according to Lonely Planet Myanmar.

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

I am awestruck by this place with all of its stoic and leaning and ruined zedi.

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

chicken figure (?) Shwe Inn Thein Paya

chicken figure (?) Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Buddha at Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Buddha at Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

the glowing Shwe Inn Thein Paya

the glowing Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

Shwe Inn Thein Paya

On my return down the long walkway, I buy a few things from the souvenir stalls:  an enamel tray, cotton pants, a royal blue striped scarf, an enamel jewelry box and a Buddha head.  When I try to buy the Buddha head for 15,000 kyat, one corner of my bill is ripped and the vendor doesn’t want to take it.  I am willing to walk away from the sale, so, after much hemming and hawing, she goes ahead and takes my money. Little do I know how much trouble this Buddha head will cause me later.

By nearly 4:00, I’m back at the creek and ready to board my boat.

back to the boat

back to the boat

ready to board

ready to board

Back on the creek again, we begin our long journey back to Nyaungshwe.

 

Categories: Asia, Burma, Inthein, Myanmar, Nyaung Ohak, Shan State, Shwe Inn Thein Paya, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

a boat ride to inthein: inle lake scenes and intha fishermen

Tuesday, February 24:  At 1:00, after a busy morning in Nyaungshwe, I hire another long-tail boat to take me to Inthein.  To get there, we head south from Nyaungshwe, through the middle of Inle Lake, then into a narrow foliage-choked canal on the southwest corner of the lake.

me back in the long-tail boat

me back in the long-tail boat

In the wide part of the lake, my boat driver, who is kind and noble, takes me up close to some of the famous Intha fishermen who are famous for their technique of leg-rowing — in which one leg is wrapped around the paddle to move the blade through the water in a figure-8 motion.  Getting close to the fishermen makes for some interesting iconic photos.

Intha fisherman on Inle Lake

Intha fisherman on Inle Lake

locals on Inle Lake

locals on Inle Lake

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

Intha fisherman

fisherman on Inle Lake

fisherman on Inle Lake

flock of birds

flock of birds

along the route

along the route

villages on the way to Inthein

villages on the way to Inthein

villages along the route

villages along the route

more floating gardens

more floating gardens

As we enter the canal, we are surrounded once again by the floating gardens and the stilt-house villages.

villages near Inthein

villages near Inthein

We even pass a congregation of golden stupas along the way.

shoreline stupas

shoreline stupas

houses along the route

houses along the route

villages on the way to Inthein

villages on the way to Inthein

local homes

local homes

local houses

local houses

lakeshore homes

lakeshore homes

Welcome

“Warmly Welcome”

We pass under numerous little footbridges along the way.

bridges along the canal

bridges along the canal

Much of the time, we are in the wild, with jungle-like tropical foliage on each side of the winding canal.  Lonely Planet Myanmar describes the trip as having an Apocolypse Now ambience; I’ve even heard the trip compared to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This might be the case on a cloudy day, but today, it’s sunny and warm and utterly delightful.

going under a bridge

going under a bridge

Myanmar Beer

Myanmar Beer

At about 2:30, after an hour and half in the boat, we arrive at a number of ruined stupas, where I get out of the boat to explore and come back with a bag full of souvenirs! 🙂

 

Categories: Asia, Inle Lake, Intha people, Inthein, Myanmar, Shan State, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

the pa-o tribe’s buddha-washing in a nyaungshwe canal

Tuesday, February 24:  After visiting the Mingala Market, I ride my bicycle down to the canal because I hear a lot of hoopla going on there.  My hotel isn’t far from the canal.  Crowds of Pa-O people are busy washing a Buddha.  I stand on the sidelines and watch.

the canal in Nyaungshwe

the canal in Nyaungshwe

They are just finishing up the washing when I arrive.

the Pa-O tribespeople washing the Buddha

the Pa-O tribespeople washing the Buddha

They slowly and arduously put him upright, and take him back to the temple.

washing the Buddha

washing the Buddha

raising and washing the Buddha

raising and washing the Buddha

washing the Buddha

washing the Buddha

the crowds carry the Buddha

the crowds carry the Buddha

Buddha and Pa-O tribespeople

Buddha and Pa-O tribespeople

the Buddha being raised

the Buddha being raised

Buddha and Pa-O

Buddha and Pa-O

Buddha all spiffed up

Buddha all spiffed up

After they take off with the Buddha, the Pa-O people start to disburse.

the Pa-O people

the Pa-O people

Pa-O people

Pa-O people

Pa-O people

Pa-O people

Pa-O people

Pa-O people

I head to Inle Pancake Kingdom where I order a crepe with cheese, tomato, onion and avocado for lunch.  It’s as delicious as the first time I ate here.

Inle Pancake Kingdom

Inle Pancake Kingdom

crepe with cheese, tomato, onion and avocado

crepe with cheese, tomato, onion and avocado

After lunch, I head back to the canal, where I hire another boat to take me to Inthein.  I love this boat ride.   Another beautiful afternoon on Inle Lake. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Burma, Myanmar, Nyaungshwe, Pa-O tribe, Shan State, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

the mingala market in nyaungshwe

Tuesday, February 24: After leaving the festival, I ride my bicycle several blocks to the Mingala Market.  The market is packed with locals every morning, when farmers and fishermen from the lake bring in fresh fish and produce from the floating gardens.

Lan Ma Taw St.

Lan Ma Taw St.

Today, Nyaungshwe happens to be hosting the five-day rotating market, so the Mingala market is swollen to double its normal size.

Mingala Market in Nyaungshwe

Mingala Market in Nyaungshwe

I love taking pictures at Asian markets, and this one is as colorful as they get.  I enjoy walking around watching the people and thinking it would be fun to live here and come here daily to buy fresh produce and fish. I could be so healthy!

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

motorbikes and bicycles

motorbikes and bicycles

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

Mingala Market

After leaving the market, I bicycle around the town, where eventually I end up along the canal.  A big crowd is here washing a giant Buddha.  It is something to behold!

Categories: Asia, Burma, Five-day rotating market, Inle Lake, Mingala Market, Myanmar, Nyaungshwe, Shan State, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

waking up to a pa-o tribe festival in nyaungshwe

Tuesday, February 24: This morning, following yesterday’s full day on Inle Lake topped off by the puppet show, I sleep in a bit.  When I wake up, I hear tinkling music outside my hotel room window.  After breakfast, I rent a bicycle so I can visit the Mingala Market; it just so happens that today is Nyaungshwe’s 5-day rotating market day.

me on my rental bike in Nyaungshwe

me on my rental bike in Nyaungshwe

Before I get very far, I hear a lot of hoopla in a sprawling field near my hotel.  Trucks are brimming with hundreds of Pa-O people, and the music I heard earlier from my hotel room is dancing in the air.  Later I’m told the Pa-O tribe visits different villages to wash the Buddhas in the canal and offer up umbrellas.

the festival

the festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-O Pagoda Festival

The Pa-O reside in the Hpa-an area of Kayin State and in the Thaton area of Mon State, as well as in the Taung Gyi area of Shan State, which is where Nyaungshwe and Inle Lake are. They are estimated to number about 700,000 (Inle Lake, Myanmar: Nationalities – Pa-O).

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-o Pagoda Festival

Pa-O Pagoda Festival

One can easily spot the Pa-O tribespeople who dress in black or dark blue clothes with colorful turban-like towels on their heads.

Pa-o people

Pa-O people

Pa-O people

Pa-O people

Pa-O people

Pa-O people

all decked out for the festival

all decked out for the festival

Pa-O festival

Pa-O festival

Pa-O festival

Pa-O festival

Pa-O festival

Pa-O festival

sleeping Pa-O person

sleeping Pa-O person

young Pa-O man

young Pa-O man

festive vehicles

festive vehicles

Pa-O festival

Pa-O festival

After wandering with my bicycle through this field of Pa-O festivities, I head to the Mingala Market.  It’s only later that I’m able to see the Pa-O washing a giant Buddha in the canal. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Festival, Inle Lake, Myanmar, Nyaungshwe, Pa-O tribe, Shan State, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

lunch at the eyeful lake, long-neck women, phaung daw oo paya & the aung puppet show

Monday, February 23:  At around noon, we head to the Eyeful Lake Restaurant for lunch.

Heading to the Eyeful Restaurant for lunch

Heading to the Eyeful Lake Restaurant for lunch

I have some lovely views of the activity on the lake from the open air restaurant.

view from the Eyeful Restaurant

view from the Eyeful Lake Restaurant

The restaurant is quite lovely, but I have to say that what I ordered wasn’t anything special.  I had sea bass with cashew nuts; the fish was very strong-smelling and overcooked.

Eyeful Restaurant

Eyeful Lake Restaurant

I did however enjoy the crunchy appetizer with its dipping sauce.

Appetizers

Appetizers

Sea bass with cashew nuts

Sea bass with cashew nuts

I enjoy watching the activity on the lake.  The locals seem to always be harvesting grass or weeds.  At first I didn’t know why they were doing this, whether they were just weeding their floating gardens or putting the weeds to some use.  Later, I find that farmers gather up lake-bottom weeds from the deeper parts of the lake, bring them back in boats and make them into floating beds in their garden areas, anchored by bamboo poles. These gardens rise and fall with changes in the water level, and so are resistant to flooding. The constant availability of nutrient-laden water results in these gardens being incredibly fertile (Wikipedia: Inle Lake).

view from the Eyeful Restaurant

view from the Eyeful Lake Restaurant

view from the Eyeful Restaurant

view from the Eyeful Lake Restaurant

view from the Eyeful Restaurant

an eyeful from the Eyeful Lake

view from the Eyeful Restaurant

view from the Eyeful Lake Restaurant

leaving the Eyeful Restaurant

leaving the Eyeful Lake Restaurant

Finally, we take off from the Eyeful Lake Restaurant and head somewhere else.  It’s fun on this voyage because I never really know where I’m going; I just put myself into the boatman’s hands. Wherever he drops me ends up being a delightful experience.

Inn Than Lay-2 Restaurant

Inn Than Lay-2 Restaurant

long-tail boats on Inle Lake

long-tail boats on Inle Lake

We take the wide channel north to Tha Lay, where we make a stop at Phaung Daw Oo Paya, the holiest religious site in southern Shan State.

going through another village

going through another village

Phaung Daw Oo Paya is a huge tiered pagoda.

pagoda along the lakeshore

pagoda along the lakeshore

floating gardens

floating gardens

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

The center shrine in the main hall of Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda houses five small golden Buddha images. The Buddha images have been covered with so many gold leaves that it is impossible to see their original structure (Inle Lake Tourism: Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda).  Only men are allowed to apply the gold leaves.

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

"Ladies are Prohibited"

“Ladies are Prohibited”

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

Phaung Daw Oo Paya

leaving Phaung Daw Oo Paya

leaving Phaung Daw Oo Paya

We take off from the pagoda and head into the town of Heyar Yawrma, passing long tail boats loaded with cargo.

carrying cargo on Inle Lake

carrying cargo on Inle Lake

At Heyar Yawrma, which is one of the more developed towns for tourism on the lake, we stop at a silver shop, where I can’t resist buying a silver necklace!

silversmith

silversmith

silver forging

silver forging

Then we go into a weaving shop run by the Kayan (Padaung) Tribe.  The Padaung are best known for its women who wear brass rings around their necks, arms and legs. They are often known as the long-neck women of Myanmar. The brass coils are first applied when the girls are about five years old, and as the girl grows older, longer coils are added. The weight of the brass pushes down the collar-bone and compresses the rib cage, making their necks appear very long (Asia Explorers: Padaung People).  There are many legends associated with this practice, one being that it made the women ugly so they wouldn’t fall prey to human trafficking.  One other legend is that a tribe leader had a dream where a tiger attacked children born on a Wednesday and broke their necks; as his daughter was born on a Wednesday, he started this practice. 

long-neck woman weaving

long-neck woman weaving

Girls start to wear the necklaces at age five. The more laces are worn, the longer their necks are. A female adult may have up to 35 necklaces; they can’t take them off or their neck will be easily broken. The Padaung consider the longer neck they have, the more elegant they are. Unlike any women in the world, the Padaung long neck women are happy with their special “fashion” (Exotic Voyages: Long Neck Tribe in Inle Lake).

long-neck woman

long-neck woman

I can’t imagine living day-to-day wearing these brass necklaces without a break, or not being able to take them off at night while sleeping.  I would think the women would be miserable, much like the Chinese women who had their feet bound.

weaving

weaving

long-neck young woman

long-neck young woman

I can’t help but take a picture of this tourist trying on one of the hats in the shop.

a tourist tries on a hat

a tourist tries on a hat

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

another shrine in Heyar Yawrma

We leave the town of Heyar Yawrma and head back into the open lake.  Here I see more locals and tourists and fishermen buzzing around the lake.

locals cruising the lake

locals cruising the lake

stilt homes

stilt homes

restaurant on the lake

restaurant on the lake

The iconic image found at Inle Lake is that of the local fishermen with their conical nets and their distinctive rowing style; this involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. This unique style evolved for the reason that the lake is covered by reeds and floating plants making it difficult to see above them while sitting. Standing provides the rower with a view beyond the reeds. However, the leg rowing style is only practiced by the men (Wikipedia: Inle Lake).

making a living

making a living

fisherman

fisherman

fisherman

fisherman

fisherman

fisherman

Fisherman on Inle Lake

Fisherman on Inle Lake

Fisherman on Inle Lake

Fisherman on Inle Lake

We return to Nyaungshwe at around 3:00.  I’ve been out and about the lake since before dawn.  I return to my room, where I take a nap.  Later, I rent a bicycle for $1 and go to Lin Htett Myanmar Food, which has been recommended.  I have vegetable curry with accompaniments.  I think the serving is meant for a crowd; I can eat only a small portion of the meal.

Dinner at Lin Htett Myanmar Food in Nyaungshwe

Dinner at Lin Htett Myanmar Food in Nyaungshwe

Lin Htett Myanmar Food

Lin Htett Myanmar Food

view from Lin Htett Myanmar Food

view from Lin Htett Myanmar Food

street view from Lin Htett Myanmar Food

street view from Lin Htett Myanmar Food

street scenes from Lin Htett Myanmar Food

street scenes from Lin Htett Myanmar Food

vegetable curry with accompaniments

vegetable curry with accompaniments

Stuffed, I then go to the Aung Puppet Show at 7:00.  We are locked into a small space to watch the show, and I can’t help but feel a little claustrophobic.  The puppets do several song and dance routines for about a half-hour.

Aung Puppet Show

Aung Puppet Show

Aung Puppet Show

Aung Puppet Show

Aung Puppet Show

Aung Puppet Show

Aung Puppet Show

Aung Puppet Show

the puppeteer at the Aung Puppet Show

the puppeteer at the Aung Puppet Show

Aung Puppet Show

Aung Puppet Show

I’m pretty exhausted after the puppet show, so I go back to my room to call it a night.  Tomorrow, I’ll ride my bicycle around town to check out the Mingala Market and take another boat to Inthein.

 

Categories: Asia, Aung Puppet Show, Eyeful Lake Restaurant, Heyar Yawrma, Inle Apex Hotel, Inle Lake, Long neck women, Myanmar, Nyaungshwe, Padaung Tribe, Phaung Daw Oo Paya, Shan State, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

the southern villages of inle lake

Monday, February 23:  After leaving Jumping Cat Monastery, we get back in the boat and head south into the villages on Inle Lake.  At this point, it’s 9:50 a.m.  We’ve already covered a lot of the lake and floating gardens, the 5-day rotating market, and the Monastery.

I love cruising around on this beautiful lake, with the cool breeze weaving its way over the lake surface from the surrounding mountains, and the charming views of floating gardens, fishermen, gardeners, locals and tourists.

Inle Lake's floating gardens

Inle Lake’s floating gardens

We spend the next two hours floating through the stilt villages among more floating gardens.  This southern end is such a quaint part of the lake.

Scenes along Inle Lake

Scenes along Inle Lake

floating gardens

floating gardens

floating gardens of Inle Lake

floating gardens of Inle Lake

stilt houses and gardens

stilt houses and gardens

villages and gardens

villages and gardens

idyllic scenes

idyllic scenes

villages

villages

red house

red house

waterways

waterways

waterways in villages

waterways in villages

plying the waters

plying the waters

village views

village views

in the village

in the village

laundry

laundry

in the village

in the village

green reflections

green reflections

gated community

gated community

floating gardens

floating gardens

farmers doing their thing

farmers doing their thing

villages of Inle Lake

villages of Inle Lake

reflections

reflections

temple

temple

reflections

reflections

Burmese boatman

Burmese boatman

more villages

more villages

The peaceful village of Nam Pan is built on stilts over the water.

the water highway

the water highway

Nam Pan’s main temple is Alodaw Pauk Pagoda, one of the oldest shrines on the lake.

pagoda

pagoda

village life

village life

village life

village life

Inle Lake

Inle Lake

The tidy village of In Paw Khone is famous for its weaving workshops and teak stilt houses.

Inle Lake

Inle Lake

Of course, we have to stop at a weaving workshop.  Unable to resist my craving for textiles, I buy two lotus & silk scarves and a longyi.  The longyi has to be made, so while I wait for it, I sit out on the patio and enjoy a cool lime drink.

Weaving workshop in Phaw Khone

Weaving workshop in Phaw Khone

Weaver

Weaver

After the weaving workshop, we start making our way back north.

village life

village life

boaters in the village

boaters in the village

restaurant on Inle Lake

Golden Kite Restaurant

village houses

village houses

blue on the lake

blue on the lake

Inle Lake village

Inle Lake village

village on the lake

village on the lake

houses in a row

houses in a row

water roads

water roads

colorful laundry

colorful laundry

Burmese children on Inle Lake

Burmese children on Inle Lake

lakefront property

lakefront property

We pull up to the Eyeful Lake Restaurant at 11:50 a.m., just in time for lunch! 🙂  After lunch, we’ll continue our northerly cruise to Nyaungshwe.

Categories: Asia, In Paw Khone, Inle Lake, Myanmar, Nam Pan, Shan State, Travel | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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