Where do the French find fish in Myanmar? In Le Lake. Ok, that was really bad, but give me a little break as I’ve been under the weather. We are glad to be in relatively cool Nyaungshwe, near Lake Inle and this is the first longer stop since our trip began. We will be here for nearly a week.
A few days ago we took a boat tour, the most common tourist pursuit in this area of Myanmar, of Inle Lake. The lake (about 15 miles long) is known for the villages along the edge which are built up on stilts over the marshy shores. We met our boat captain at dawn (another early morning for the kids!) and we spent the next 8 hours cruising down the lake to see life on the Burma Bayou.
Traditional houses up on stilts; gardens of floating plants (including lots of tomato plants) nestled in the marshy edges of the lake; locals out on their fishing skiffs with nets and traditional bamboo bell-cages.
We spent a lot of time at a shore-side town in their weekly market, which was a sprawling kaleidoscope of color, noise and energy. We were treated to local tourist traps (“we go now to see silver smith”), one of which was actually really interesting (the hand weavers, where we picked up a scarf or two). Lunch was high atop the canals of a village on the lakeshore, and our final stop was a monastery populated mainly by cats called the Jumping Cat Monastery. Unfortunately for all the tourists, the monk who trained the cats has since died and now the cats just laze about.
This town is on the backpacker circuit. Loads of guesthouses, travel agents, cafes etc., and there’s still apparently a shortage of accommodation. Jenn scored us a big room several months ago in a well-located guesthouse except for its close proximity to the middle school which engages in marching band practice after school! Food options are a bit repetitive (eating out every day gets tiresome), but we are around the corner from a pretty decent Italian place, Star Flower. The pasta is tasty (homemade, as was the gnocchi; they even made an egg-free version for Charlie and Jenn) and makes a nice change from fried rice and noodles with vegetables. The ample breakfasts at our guesthouse at least help get us started on the right foot, but the variety of Khao San Road in Bangkok will be welcome in a week.
For more details on another of our day trips, additional photos or to hear about our experiences from a child’s perspective, please see the blog of our ten year old daughter, Charlie.
Next up is a brief stop back in Yangon before we fly out for Thailand.