Asia Pacific

Inle Lake

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Before I came to Myanmar, I read in a guide book somewhere that Inle Lake is a “tonic for the soul.”  I didn’t really need to be convinced to go anyway but after reading that quote, I was even more intrigued.  I had seen photos of the Inle Lake fisherman who fish while rowing the boat with one of their legs.  I stayed in Nyaunshwe which is the main town in Inle Lake and where most of the accommodations are located.  It’s a charming little town; much smaller and more quaint than the big capital of Yangon.  When I was exploring the town, it seemed like time was in slow-motion.  Everyone was riding bikes, I saw horse-drawn carts and a lot of people walking.  It didn’t seem like anyone was in a rush to go anywhere.  Coming from New York it’s a strange sensation. 

I arrived in the afternoon just before sunset and Myint Myint, the receptionist at the Manor Hotel, told me to catch the sunset at Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery.  If there was anything I was sure of, it was that wine from South East Asia is never good.  Let’s just say that the wine got better after each glass.  No one can doubt the sunset views though. 

The main attraction at Inle Lake is to hire a long tail boat and explore the lake.  Our same friend hooked me up with a boat and a boat driver, Ma Ma.  For the day, it was $13 which felt like a crime so I threw a couple of extra US dollars at him in the end.  The day felt like a whirlwind because he took me all over the lake. In short, I saw a stilted village, the Inle Lake fisherman, a floating market, a famous pagoda and monastery, a long necked woman, and In Dein an ancient ruin.  Inle Lake is so unique and unlike any other place I’ve eve been.  It’s hard to put into words unless you’ve been there and seen it for yourself. 

I’ve been away from my home for a week now but it feels like a month.  Maybe that’s what happens when you don’t have good internet access.  I feel completely at bliss.  Is ignorance bliss?  I can’t help but think what I would be doing in NY instead of exploring this beautiful place?  Well, going to work, working out, watching tv, getting drinks with some friends?  How would these things impact my life the same way as experiencing everything first hand?  The answer is it can’t.  Actually doing shit is the answer.  There’s something about this serene lake environment that gets me all emo.  It reminds me of this quote I love and it’s just food for thought… “it’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.” — Seneca

How to get there:

I flew from Yangon to Heho airport (Inle Lake) on Air KBZ but you can take a train or bus from any of the major cities (Yangon, Mandalay or Bagan) but they take 12+ hours.

Where I slept:

The Manor Hotel has wifi, restaurant, free breakfast, helpful staff, aircon and central location.

Best eats:

  • Linn Htet for traditional Burmese food with lots of side dishes
  • Chillax and The French Touch for iced coffee
  • One Owl Grill for good food and drinks
  • The night market for cheap eats

Other recs:

  • Definitely go to the Red Mountain Winery for the sunset
  • Hire a long tail boat for the day to explore Inle Lake
  • Rent bikes and explore

**Some photos shot with iphone 7

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The Manor Hotel

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They still use buffalo to farm

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Some of the old buildings in town

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Cute restaurants in town

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Monks running errands

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Everything is old school

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Red Mountain Estate Vineyard & Winery

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Wine tasting

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The beautiful grounds

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Sunset perfection

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The jetty

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Serenity on the lake

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The fisherman of Inle Lake

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Flower delivery

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Stilted village

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Just amazing

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Our long tail boat approaching the floating market

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Going to check out Hpaung Daw U Pagoda

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But first I need to cross this bridge

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The river is life

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Exploring In Dein

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Ruins of In Dein

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The old stupas of In Dein

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Amazed by this lake life

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Lady from the Padaung long neck tribe in Inle Lake

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Night market in Inle Lake

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Craving green veggies

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Overnight bus to Mandalay and a stop to get noodles