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Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake)

(Continued from previous post)

28 Jun 17, Wed

We didn’t have a night to stay at Nyaung Shwe. Hence, we headed to a cheap accommodation called Zawgi Inn, cashed in USD14 and left our luggage there.

We paid 18,000 kyat for the boat trip on Inle Lake, found in a valley surrounded by lush green mountains. It was exhilarating to be sitting on the boat in the middle of the lake with the beautiful sky above. The engine was noisy but the mind was at peace.

We started our trip at 8 plus am. After half an hour of journey, the boat stopped by a restaurant for us to have our breakfast.

Second stop was Inle traditional silversmith workshop & showroom where you can observe the process of steel being hammered and refined into different shapes, as well as to purchase the silver products they handmake there.

Third stop was the market. The one that our boatman brought us to was a distance down the lake where the market itself took place on a dry land.

Fourth stop was a place for silk, lotus and cotton hand weaving. Interesting to find out that lotus thread is stronger than silk. We observed the process whereby lotus stem was cut and how the fibre inside was used to form threads. You can even try it.

Our boatman was playing Carrom with another boatman while waiting for us. Happy to see a familiar game.

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At our fifth stop, we watched two women sitting cross legged in the process of making flavoured cheroots, local cigar. A man explained to us the different products. The cigars are wrapped in tree leaves and contain crushed tobacco and bits of dried wood seasoned with various flavour.

Sixth stop was In Dein, which was one of the small villages of Inle Lake located on the western bank of the lake. Walk up the covered walkway and a huge collection of stupas (as well as several active dogs) await you.

At our seventh stop, we met long necked women, who wear brass ring around their necks. The number of brass rings they wear depends on their age. They do not originally live along Inle Lake though.

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Jumping cat monastery is our last stop. Contrary to its name, the cats there were lazing around when we reached. The monastery itself is ordinary and does not command a special visit.

So cool to see students go home by boat.

On our way back, we kept a lookout for fishermen. There were fishermen who were doing real fishing but those were not photo-worthy. We chanced upon a fisherman who was doing the pose of traditional fishing for another boat of tourists. He then did it for us and came over for tips. Behind this commercialised balancing act, it was interesting to learn of the unusual techniques mastered by the fishermen there. Along the journey, we have witnessed fishermen and even young boys, who balance on one leg and wrap the other leg around the oar to guide the vessel. The unique position has attracted the taking of many photos by tourists, which are not just beautiful to look at, but the photos also teach us something about another lifestyle and culture.

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This position enables the fishermen to see across the lake to spot the dense weeds within the water and at the same time, the hands are free to manage the large cone-shaped baskets should they spot any fishes.

Our boat trip ended at 4 plus in the afternoon and we headed back for shower before taking JJ Express at 6pm back to Yangon. Inle Lake was my most favourite attraction in Myanmar. I wish I have enough time to stay for sunset though.

(Refer to the post on Yangon for continuation.)

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