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

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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

the five-day rotating market at inle lake: khaung daing village

Monday, February 23:  My boat guide drops me off at the lake shore and directs me inland to the five-day rotating market, which today is at Khuang Daing Village.  I walk along a dirt path, toward a small pagoda, but I don’t really see signs of a market.

walking from the shore to Khaung Daing Village

walking from the shore to Khaung Daing Village

Small pagoda near Khaung Daing Village

Small pagoda near Khaung Daing Village

I see a local boy balancing some goods in two baskets slung over his shoulder, so I figure I should follow him.

Balancing act

Balancing act

Buddha

Buddha

I follow him through an overgrown path until I emerge at what is clearly a boisterous market, very well attended by locals and tourists alike.

preparing for market day

preparing for market day

market day

market day

bagging the prodcue

bagging produce

Click on any of the pictures below for a full-size slide show.

It’s so much fun walking around the market and observing the locals engaged in making their livelihoods.

mats for sale

mats for sale

boat parking lot

boat parking lot

heavy loads

heavy loads

the bustling market

the bustling market

coconuts

coconuts

the lady of the coconuts

the lady of the coconuts

The market is the perfect place to capture local people; they are so involved with what they’re doing, they don’t often pay attention to tourists like me who are intent on snapping pictures.

balancing act

balancing act

grains

grains

I love this tough lady with a slim cigar dangling from her mouth.

cigar-smoking vendor

cigar-smoking vendor

Click on any of the images below for a full-size slide show.

There are so many things I want to buy, and of course I fall for a piece of fabric which I can wear as a long skirt, like the locals.  Later in my travels, I end up buying a Buddha head that is not too dissimilar from the ones shown below.

Buddha heads

Buddha heads

One of my friends from Korea, Myrna, asked me to take a picture of the red betel juice spittle that is found all over Myanmar. It is also very commonly seen in India.  Myrna inspired me to come to Myanmar, saying it was her favorite southeast Asian country.  After having traveled here, I would have to say I agree with her wholeheartedly!

the red spittle from betel leaves

the red spittle from betel leaves

baskets for shopping

baskets for shopping

coconut vendor

coconut vendor

After spending quite some time just wandering around the market watching all the hustle and bustle, I make my way back to my boat and guide, passing by this pretty stupa.

stupa

stupa

The morning light is so gorgeous. I love the glow painted over the scenery like a warm butterscotch sauce.

the shores of Inle Lake

the shores of Inle Lake

walking back to the boat

walking back to the boat

pagoda

pagoda

long-tail motorboats

long-tail motorboats

boats at bay

boats at bay

boats

boats

boatman

boatman

propeller

propeller

leaving Khaung Daing Village

leaving Khaung Daing Village

floating gardens

floating gardens

floating gardens

floating gardens

As we leave to head back out to the lake, it’s only 8:15 a.m.  How I love getting an early start while I’m traveling!  I can anticipate a full day of exploring, laid out before me like a fine feast. 🙂

Categories: Burma, Five-day rotating market, Inle Lake, Khaung Daing, Myanmar, Photography, Shan State, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

a cruise around inle lake & a visit to jumping cat monastery

Monday, February 23:   After visiting the 5-day rotating market and pushing off from the dock at Khuang Daing Village, we cruise around Inle Lake, looking at the villages along the lake and the fishermen plying the waters for food.  It’s a gorgeous day out.  Though it was quite chilly in the early morning, it’s now warming up nicely.

Boaters on Inle Lake

Boaters on Inle Lake

I love watching all the activity on the lake. Locals are going about their business while tourists are also zooming by in long-tail boats.  As Inle Lake is 13.5 miles (22km) long and 7 miles (11km) wide, the lake never seems too crowded.

long-tail boat on Inle Lake

long-tail boat on Inle Lake

The floating gardens at Inle Lake are an example of a large-scale traditional hydroponics system.  In the distance, I can see the wooden poles which hold the gardens in place.

shoreline vision

shoreline vision

Inle Lake is famous for its tomato crops that ripen around December each year, providing both a sustainable food system and income for locals. The lake is also full of fish, the most common being a breed of carp that combined with floating gardens has helped sustain the communities around the lake for many centuries (Inhabitat: Myanmar’s Inle Lake Shows Bridge to Ancient Hydroponic Farming Systems).

A common sight on the lake are the flat bottom skiffs “propelled by the unique Intha technique of leg rowing — in which one leg is wrapped around the paddle to drive the blade through the water in a snake-like motion” (Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma)).

fisherman

fisherman

Intha technique of leg rowing

Intha technique of leg rowing

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long tail boats

Inle Lake shores

Inle Lake shores

boaters

boaters

fishermen

fishermen

fishermen

fishermen

Inle Lake silhouettes

Inle Lake silhouettes

Inle Lake

Inle Lake

boaters

boaters

local Burmese

local Burmese

silhouettes

silhouettes

Pretty building along the shore

Pretty building along the shore

long-tail boats

long-tail boats

long-tail boats on Inle Lake

long-tail boats on Inle Lake

No labor-intensive watering system is needed for the amazing floating gardens at Inle Lake.  Instead, locals float man-made islands of matted organic material across the fresh water lake. “Anchored into place, the islands are sturdy enough for crops to root successfully, and then the roots simply keep growing into the lake below, thus having access to as much fresh water as they require without the need for the farmers to continually keep them hydrated.”  The creation time for these floating fields can “take up to 10 years until submerged, matted organic matter has formed.”  The process can be hastened by dredging the silt from the lake floor and adding this to the newly formed islands.  This is thought to make plant life more fertile.  (Inhabitat: Myanmar’s Inle Lake Shows Bridge to Ancient Hydroponic Farming Systems).

floating gardens of Inle Lake

floating gardens of Inle Lake

I love it once we leave the wide open spaces of the lake and delve into one of the many waterways through the stilt house villages.  These villages are so picturesque and charming.

stilt houses

stilt houses

reflections

reflections

local Burmese fellow

local Burmese fellow

stilt houses in a village

stilt houses in a village

stilt house reflections

stilt house reflections

reflections of Inle Lake

reflections of Inle Lake

Once in the village, we head to Nga Phe Chaung Monastery, a peaceful teak wood monastery built on stilts over the lake. Dating from the end of the 1850s, the monastery is known for its collection of ancient Buddha images.

Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

The monastery is known as “Jumping Cat Monastery” because the monks once trained cats to leap through hoops; they put on cat-jumping shows for tourists.  However, my guide tells me that the monks no longer stage such shows.  In fact, the cats I see today seem quite lazy, napping in strips of sunlight on the warm wood.

approaching Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

approaching Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Buddha in Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Buddha in Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Buddha image in Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Buddha image in Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Buddha

Buddha

Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Meditation hall at Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Meditation hall at Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

napping cats

napping cats

lotus flowers at Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

lotus flowers at Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

I find some wonderful views of the floating gardens from the monastery.  It’s possible to rent a hot air balloon at Inle Lake but the price is very steep. It would be an excellent place for a hot air balloon ride because you’d get excellent views of the gardens.

view of floating gardens from Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

view of floating gardens from Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

floating gardens of Inle Lake

floating gardens of Inle Lake

part of Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

part of Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

floating gardens

floating gardens

floating gardens

floating gardens

dock at the monastery

dock at the monastery

Wandering around the monastery grounds, I find teak-covered walkways, lush gardens, and monks going about their business.

walkway at Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

walkway at Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

monks quarters

monks’ quarters

pathway at Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

pathway at Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

more floating gardens

more floating gardens

colorful boats

colorful boats

Burmese woman

Burmese woman

Burmese woman

Burmese woman

I can’t resist taking a picture of my replacement flip-flops, the ones I bought at Mount Popa when my Havaianas were stolen by the shoe-minder.  Believe me, these are not nearly as comfortable as mine. 🙂

the flip-flops I bought after mine were stolen

the flip-flops I bought after mine were stolen

I wander across the little bridge near the monastery into the gardens and village across the water, but I don’t go far.

I find a shaky-looking footbridge.

village near Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

village near Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

footbridge

footbridge

Finally, it’s time to take off and go back out on the lake.  At this point it’s only 9:45 a.m.   We’ve already done so much exploring, and the day spreads out before me with the promise of more adventures.

leaving Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

leaving Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

parting view of Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

parting view of Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

fare thee well

fare thee well

boater near the Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

boater near the Nga Phe Chaung Monastery

Back on the water again, we head to another village where we stop at a weaving workshop and a silver workshop.  We also stop at a workshop where long-neck women weave scarves, as well as another pagoda and more of the beautiful Inle Lake.

Categories: Asia, Inle Lake, Jumping Cat Monastery, Myanmar, Nga Hpe Kyaung, Nga Phe Chaung Monastery, Shan State | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

a sunrise cruise on the waters of inle lake

Monday, February 23:  Last night, I accidentally set my alarm for 5 P.M. for a sunrise boat ride on Inle Lake this morning.  Luckily, my husband texted me from the USA at 5:35 and woke me up, otherwise I would have slept right through my appointed meeting.  I rush to shower and gobble down breakfast and meet the guide just in time for my day-long boat ride on the lake.

Several fellow travelers had warned me that the early morning boat ride on the lake would be cold, so I bundle up in my blue Wal-Mart men’s jacket; I bought this jacket in China because I hadn’t brought any warm winter coats to Nanning and women’s clothes in China are too small for me.  I get as comfortable as possible in a long-tail motorboat, commonly used for tours and fishing on Inle Lake.  Luckily, the boat guide also has a blanket I can wrap around myself.  It is freezing and windy out on the lake at this early morning hour, despite temperatures that rise up to 90 degrees in the daytime.

heading out on the canal to Inle Lake at daybreak

heading out on the canal to Inle Lake at daybreak

We leave before sunrise, so I’m able to see the sun coming up slowly over the horizon.  The plan is to spend the whole day on the lake, visiting stilt-house villages, floating gardens, and Buddhist temples, as well as hopefully getting glimpses of the famous Intha people using their unique technique for leg rowing — in which one leg is wrapped around the paddle to drive the blade through the water in a snake-like motion.

Inle Lake

Inle Lake

buildings along Inle Lake

buildings along Inle Lake

Inle Lake

Inle Lake

the boat cuts through the mist

the boat cuts through the mist

sunrise on Inle Lake

sunrise on Inle Lake

scenes along the wy

scenes along the wy

serenity

serenity

sunrise at Inle Lake

sunrise at Inle Lake

houses on stilts

houses on stilts

Click on any of the photos below for a full-sized slide show.

As we ply the waters, the golden sunlight washes over the waterways and stilt houses, giving the entire place an otherworldly aura.

shores of Inle Lake

shores of Inle Lake

sun reflection

sun reflection

Click any of the photos below for a full-size slide show.

We come across several Inle Lake fishermen; when we approach them, the boat guide turns down the engine of the long-tail motorboat so as not to scare away the fisherman’s intended catch.

fisherman

fisherman

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

sunrise, fishermen and birds

We head first to the five-day rotating market which is today at Khaung Daing Village, on the northwest end of the lake.  At the market, locals bring in fresh fish and produce from the floating gardens.

heading down a waterway to the market

heading down a waterway to the market

In Inle Lake’s famous floating gardens, Intha farmers grow flowers, tomatoes, squash, and other fruit and vegetables on long wooden trellises supported on floating mats of vegetation.  It’s hard to get a good view at lake level, but I’ve seen pictures of views from the hot air balloons that are fabulous.  Sadly, the hot air balloon prices are exorbitant, over $500, so I pass on this trip.  When I took a hot air balloon ride in Turkey, it was about 180 euros for one hour.

floating gardens of Inle Lake

floating gardens of Inle Lake

floating gardens

floating gardens

gateway

gateway

floating gardens at sunrise

floating gardens at sunrise

morning light

morning light

waterways of Inle Lake

waterways of Inle Lake

floating gardens

floating gardens

motor boating through the waterways

motor boating through the waterways

There are also Buddhist temples along the way.

Buddhist temple

Buddhist temple

After about an hour ride, we dock at this spot near Khaung Daing; I will walk from here to the market.

reflections

reflections

parking

parking

parking lot

parking lot

I walk inland to the market, not knowing what a colorful and lively experience it will turn out to be. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Five-day rotating market, Inle Lake, Khaung Daing, Myanmar, Nyaungshwe, Shan State | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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