Arriving in Nyaung Shwe, a town north of Inle Lake, we pick up our big bags left during the trek and go in search of a place to stay. The city has no shortage of accommodation or restaurants, you can immediately feel that tourism is omnipresent. Despite the number of hotels many are full or out of budget for us. Finally, there is a hotel on the main street that offers a large room with a large bathroom but above all… with a bathtub! We are all crazy at the idea of being able to take a bath especially after three days of trekking and rest on the balcony!
A LITTLE BIKE RIDE
The next day, the leg pain is not felt too much so we decide to rent bicycles to soak up the place. We move away from the city to see small villages and why not find a point of view on the lake. After a few kilometers we come across a small factory that gives off a super sweet smell halfway between apple and pear.
Curious we stop to observe what they are doing and try to find out a little more. Unfortunately no one speaks English, we just know that they were boiling sugar cane but we will never be at what end. Unfortunately, we were not able to go very far in the villages because twice in a row we faced dead ends and even once, a policeman told us to turn around.
On the way back we had spotted a vineyard, and good French that we are, we stopped to taste the local wine. A tasting formula is proposed, it allows you to discover 4 different wines for a reasonable price. Sylvie not being a wine lover, only Martin lent himself to the game and did not appreciate the tasting any more than that (especially the red wine, ew!).
A DAY ON THE LAKE
Early in the morning we head to the pier to find a boat. The day before we had prepared our itinerary to note what we wanted to see and avoid the classic tourist tour. After a good half hour of negotiation with the various reelers on the quay, we finally manage to agree on the itinerary and the price and here we are for a day on the lake accompanied by a Spanish woman.
As soon as they arrive on the lake, the “fake” fishermen get into position for the tourist photo, you are free to give them a few cents or not. For our part, we pretended not to look (by sneaking a picture anyway: -p) and the boat continued on its way without stopping.
A little further on, we start to meet real sinners: those who are dressed like every day, who work on their makeshift boat, who throw their nets in the water and hit with their oars and paddle with their legs. A magnificent show that takes place in the foreground of the mountains, in the morning mist on the black water of Inle Lake. It was like another time, it was beautiful.
To start the visits, the boat stops at two places that we had not asked for but tourists that we are, it seems that we do not really have a choice. The first stop is a silver jewellery factory and the second stop is a kind of souvenir shop. There are even women with long necks who are there to take pictures with tourists, we don’t linger any longer, that’s not what interests us.
PAGODE IN DEIN
This pagoda is not part of the classic circuit because it is off-centre, you have to take a long canal to get there and in general boats ask for an extra charge to get there. Nevertheless the way to go is nice, we pass several small narrow dams where the water level rises 30 cm all at once. Once ashore, you have to cross a long covered path filled with small traders to reach the pagoda. But the most interesting thing is the hundreds of mini stupas in ruins on either side of the path that give a particular atmosphere.
UMBRELLA AND PAPER FACTORY
We wanted to see how they make umbrellas because we find some very pretty ones, but we were quickly disappointed once we got there. Indeed, there were two young girls who started working (i.e. hitting the papier mâché with a hammer) just until we took a picture and then we took you to the store! We didn’t see anything else from the manufacturing.
That is why we absolutely wanted to go to Inle Lake, to cross a floating village. We were left speechless in front of this painting. The reflection on the water is just sublime, we had a real crush on this place and we would have liked to spend more time here contemplating this landscape. It’s crazy to see how people have acclimated to this lifestyle. Imagine living on H24 water, having to take your boat to your neighbour’s house, driving kids to school or buying vegetables. Sometimes the stilts are so thin that you wonder how it holds! Despite everything, the houses are cleverly built and the most fun is the toilets: they are located in a small cabin on the side of the house, they are Turkish toilets where the evacuation goes directly… into the lake! Hmmm nice all that!
WORKSHOP WEAVING COTTON, SILK AND LOTUS
This stop was really interesting, we discovered about ten manual weaving machines, each more complex than the next. It takes a lot of patience and concentration to do this work, it’s really impressive and we could spend hours watching this work! Moreover, we saw how they made lotus yarn from sap, it was really original for the occasion!
After eating we stopped at a boat factory, we learned a little more about the time and cost of a boat (but we admit we don’t remember it anymore so sorry you won’t get any info ^^).
Just next to the boat factory is the cigar factory. In Myanmar, we see many people smoking cigars that are cheap to buy. The manufacture is relatively simple although technical and the chicks chain a cigar almost every minute. A person makes an average of 400 cigars a day. We were somewhat surprised by the composition of a cigar: banana extract, anise, honey, tobacco and others that we forgot…
On the way back we pass through the floating gardens. It’s crazy to think that vegetables grow on water! So in fact they are strips of land that float on the water and on which the inhabitants cultivate tomatoes in particular. And yes, man adapts to his environment!
In the end we will have been on the lake from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, so it is a very busy day that we really enjoyed!
NEW YEAR AT INLE LAKE
Since in Myanmar, they don’t celebrate the New Year at the same time as us, we decided to spend the New Year’s Eve evening in a restaurant run by a Frenchman with Emma and Lucas. The evening was reserved for the old lady with a good menu in perspective but it didn’t really go as planned!
First of all, we arrived at the restaurant 2 minutes after our friends, we were at the same table but we never ate together! They were always served before us and even had the dish even though they had not finished their starter. The owner of the restaurant is a nice guy but a little spacey and he made us laugh. He is also and above all a photographer and three years ago he filmed a film (a thing with monks, a pregnant woman who dies, a baby who also dies, another abandoned baby and a sick guy…) in short a thing that gives the sin what and he broadcast it in the restaurant, the night of Christmas Eve, at 8pm… As a result, nobody dared to talk, it was super calm and a little morbid at the same time, only the waitresses ran in all directions completely panicked!
Concerning the meal, apart from the starter, which was excellent, we were rather disappointed with the rest, which didn’t really look like what was on the menu. In addition, we had booked the menu the day before for $20 and then, surprise when we arrived, we see on the sheet that we will actually pay $25, so overnight. When Andrea made the remark to the owner, he replied that it was because of the cost of the duck (and not the price of the duck !-p)… no luck they had taken the fish menu so his excuse was not very valid ! ^^ Finally he offered us each a cocktail to compensate for the menu problems and we even got a second dessert because the first one we had was not what was announced.
The meal was over, it was not even 10pm and the atmosphere in the restaurant was very flat. Finally we decided to leave to find another place a little more fun to come in 2016. We will find a little further away a hotel with music on loudly and people dancing in the courtyard, without hesitation we invited ourselves to the party. As midnight approached, we were allowed a few firecrackers and some fireworks fired by the hotel guys. “HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! “everyone shouts, everyone kisses, it’s a party! Well, it will only last for one song because as soon as 2016 has started, the hotel staff is already tidying up the tables and chairs… “It’s okay, tourists, you’ve celebrated, you’ve changed the year, now in bed! ».
We had a really good evening with our two traveling friends and we still laughed at the restaurant’s misadventures! See you guys soon.