Inle Apex Hotel

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.

 

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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

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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