Traveling in Myanmar is incomplete if you haven’t seen the famed Inle Lake. I met Daniel, a Colombian who finished his studies in Great Britain last year in Hanoi, Vietnam. While I am browsing his photos (Ok, I am not a stalker! HAHA), the Inle Lake captured my heart right away. I immediately researched about this place and included in my itinerary. I was overjoyed!!!
Inle Lake is located at Shan Mountains. It is 900 meters above sea level, running 9 miles in length and 4 miles in breadth. It is one the most magical sights in South East Asia. Inle Lake is also a home of native Inthas (sons of the lake), who live on their stilt houses with their cultivated floating farms. The Lake is also famous for their leg-rower fishermen. More ethnic groups make this Lake vibrant and culturally interesting.
How did I get there? My hotel in New Bagan assisted me to book a mini bus going to Nyaung Shwe. Nyaung Shwe is the nearest town to reach Inle Lake. I observed that mini bus in Myanmar is actually a big van that can accommodate at least 10 to 12 pax. The mini bus arrived in my hotel at 8:30 AM and picked up other passengers. We left New Bagan by 9 AM. It will be another 8 to 9 hours on the road.
After all the curvy roads, we reached Nyaung Shwe by 4 PM. Our mini bus stopped at the Tourism Center to pay Inle Zone entrance fee. I was on the verge of not using the pass I got from a Singaporean in Bagan (I know it is a form of lying) but I had a tighter budget and still have many days to go. The tourist officer checked my pass and he said OK. Forgive me, Inle Lake. 😦
Where did I stay? Before I left Manila, I pre-booked my hotel in Nyaung Shwe. My reservation is saved and I can pay when I arrived. However, after checking Booking.com on my lazy day in Bagan, I switched to a cheaper inn. Jen, a Filipina I met in Yangon recommended Winn Nyut Inn to stay in Nyaung Shwe.
The driver doesn’t know where my hotel was. The mini bus from New Bagan will drop you off straight in your hotel. After some minutes, we reached the inn. Wohoo!!
The Win Nyutt Inn is managed by a Burmese family. It is far away from the restaurants and main streets. From Booking.com there was no review yet. This was a gamble for me.
My room is at the 1st floor. It is a twin size room with private rest room. The inn is basically an unfinished construction yet with very helpful staff. To read my review about Win Nyutt Inn in TripAdvisor, click Right on your budget!
One full day in Nyaung Shwe is enough to see Inle Lake. I was looking for someone whom I can share a boat but no one was there. 😦 Lagi na lang ba? HAHAHA. #hugot
Remember, it was not peak season, so expect lesser travelers.
The owner of my inn rented me a boat to see the Inle Lake. She was very generous to hitch me in to her motorcycle for free to reach the port. We started the tour at around 9 AM. I felt a bit lonely as I have no one to talk to except my boatman.
But when we started the tour and I can feel the water of the Lake, the mountains, the fishermen, I felt a different kind of joy. Again, traveling alone proves me that you can never be lonely if you are chasing the unknown and unfamiliar.:)
The weather was unpredictable. While on the middle of the Lake it started to rain! Good thing my boatman has an umbrella! It was very cool to brave the weather and current of the Lake.
The tour has a package to include the temples near the Lake. But I refused to, my aim was the Lake, not any other temples again. 🙂
Here are the parts of the Inle Lake that I have seen and you will like too,
The Floating Garden
The natives of the Lake uses its water as their livelihood. The Lake farmers were harvesting tomatoes when we arrived. It was amazing! They are harvesting produce in a boat too!
The Fishing Village
Fishermen of Inle Lake also lives here. Their houses stood strong in these waters. It was very interesting to see the fishermen and their families.
Indeed, where there is water there is life too. I was very lucky to see up-close the leg-rowers fishermen. I was ecstatic! How can they do that? Their balance is incredible!
The Weaving Village
Most of the cotton, water lilies and silk weavers live here. We stopped over in a shop where tourists can see the process of weaving. A young lady showed me how a water lily turns to thread.
Most weavers are women and likely mothers. There are different processes of weaving cotton, water lilies and silk. These women are experts!
Tourists are offered to buy their products too. There are scarves, bags, blouses and towels. As a simple gesture, I bought a water lily scarf for my mother. Trying to compensate for not paying my entrance fee.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda
This pagoda is located at the middle of the Lake. The annual festival of this Pagoda is celebrated between September and October. Local and foreign pilgrims flock in Inle to celebrate.
There will be processions of pagoda on the Lake. My eyes are sore about temples and pagodas for now. That is why I found this pagoda a usual one.
Padaung Tribe Village
One of the exceptional ethnic groups in Myanmar, probably in the world. The Padaung women wore brass braces in their arms, knees and necks. I admit, I was a bit scared to see them.
They said that they put these braces to be less attractive to others. Maybe they don’t want other tribes’ blood to mix with theirs. The number of braces on their necks symbolize their age as well.
There is much history in this village. Padaung women are also in the center of mockery because of their braces. Their necks are not longer, their shoulders are stretched down.
In this modern living, I had this feeling that the younger Padaung wants to break free in this tradition. But this is their culture, this is how they lived.
The Padaung women livelihood is weaving and selling wood products.
Nga Phe Kaung Monastery
This is also called the Jumping Cat Monastery. It is said that the monks who lived here teach their cats on how to jump and other tricks.
This monastery is now a tourist attraction in Inle Lake. Though there are no jumping cats at all and monks, tourists include this place to visit.
I was astonished by the wood structure of the monastery. It has full of memories and became lovelier at the Lake.
The monastery is the last spot we had on the list.
It was sad to leave the Lake. I never imagined that it will give me a pleasant relief from all the temples and pagodas. It was magical to see the locals and how they lived. It felt like I was transported in a different time and place.
I know I can find the same body of water in the Philippines with what is like in Inle Lake. But on that time, I know Inle Lake takes a big part of me.
It was such a privilege and honor to be explore Inle Lake!
Here is much I spent in Inle Lake: