Wednesday, April 26, 2017

On and Around Inle Lake

April 26, 2017
Nyaung Shwe, Myanmar

Villagers paddling their way through a stilted village
We booked four nights at The Viewpoint Lodge so that we could spend plenty of time on the water and not feel rushed. On our excursion out to one of the nearby vineyards, we overheard other (much younger) travelers who did not share our opinion, wondering what to do after you've taken "the boat ride."

Well, for one, ride a bike out to one of the nearby vineyards.
Scott, thrilled to have gotten Caroline out on a bike!
After an early afternoon walk across town, stopping at a cafe for some ice cream, we rented a pair of bikes (about $1.50 each), and set off for the short but pretty ride out to the Red Mountain Vineyard, located 25 minutes (at our speed) southeast of town. Like most other visitors, we parked our bikes at the bottom of a steep slope and proceeded on foot to the lovely hillside setting where the vineyard was perched. The grounds and view reminded us of a mix of California and New Mexico, more than Southeast Asia. The wines, unfortunately, reminded us more of New Mexico than California.

Looking like California
Tasting like New Mexico
 There were quite a few western tourists on the property, tasting and enjoying post-taste wines by the glass. In fact, there were more of them than we'd seen in one place anywhere else since our arrival in Inle Lake or Myanmar for that matter.  

Look at those Westerners... Ew
Most were probably waiting to watch the sunset from the western-facing terrace. We chose to head back to our hotel, and enjoyed some really great vistas on our bike ride back, in the late afternoon sun. Our hotel boasted some pretty fantastic spots to watch the sun set over the neighboring rice paddies, which we did the last two nights of our stay.  While watching a pair of kittens play on and around their mother on the hotel's roof.  Perhaps, Caroline’s idea of heaven.  Sunsets. Kittens. Need I say more?

Heading back to Nyaung Shwe, in the beautiful late afternoon light
Heading back to Nyaung Shwe, in the beautiful late afternoon light
Day 3: After a day spent on land, we were itching to get back out on the water, hiring a boat to simply take us on a pleasure cruise around the lake, sans site seeing. This caused great confusion for both our hotel pal Kyi and the boatman. We had already seen the lake, the fishermen, the workshops... What could we possibly want to see? We wanted to explain that where we come from, people ride around on boats just for fun, as a form of leisure that doesn't necessarily involve shopping or culture. We knew it would be lost in translation, and just set off.

Time to take the melons to market
Our boat driver was really struggling to figure out what to do with us, so I gave him a destination at the far point of the lake, where we had visited the lotus/silk weaving workshops two days prior. We eventually made it down there, where he stopped at a similar, but different workshop than we had previously visited. Neither of us had realized there were several in the same stilted village. We were the only tourists at this one, and got to take some really nice photos.

Making thread out of lotus stems - she may look like she has a helper, but really her "assistant" is unwrapping a piece of candy
Lotus plants, waiting to become thread
Loom in action, along with some scissors of the type we saw at the blacksmith 2 days prior
Weaver in action
We had him drop us at a lakefront resort for lunch and drinks, to give ourselves further reason to stay out on/near the water. This fancy resort felt deserted, as there were apparently only six guests staying at the rather large hotel during this shoulder season period.

Alone at the restaurant, so the waiter had time to take our photo
After a pleasant lunch with wine and beer, it was back to the hotel for drinks and dinner. The Viewpoint had some really good food, and we never ended up having dinner anywhere else - highly unusual for us. With our stomachs still recovering from the Great Kalaw Food Poisoning Incident, the relatively slim pickings around town, and the interesting menu at the Viewpoint, we didn't feel like we were missing out on much.

Our final day had us renting bikes once again, riding down a tree-lined street west of town, by fields where locals were herding water buffalo into shallow, muddy pools to cool off.  We were hot too, and so managed to land back at the cafe with ice cream one more time. Caroline may have influenced that part of the itinerary.

After our evening drinks and snacks of pineapple fried rice at the hotel, we hauled our bags the 10-minutes-walk down to the Joyous Journeys (JJ) Express bus company office, to board our overnight "VIP" bus to Mandalay. With a scheduled departure time of 8pm and arrival of 4am, 30 minutes outside of the city, we weren't exactly looking forward to this particular night. Another adventure - whether we wanted it or not!
One of the beautiful nightly sunsets as seen from our hotel
Other photos from our last three days in the Inle Lake region:

Caroline found a friend at a restaurant. Now go wash your hands.
Scott feeling like a giant at the market
We loved the housekeeping equipment at the Viewpoint Lodge - Cleaning Trike!
We loved the housekeeping equipment at the Viewpoint Lodge - Laundry Boat!

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