It is such a great feeling to be greeted at the airport (Bagan Air flew us from Yangon to Heho) by a smiling face, and this one belonged to Twe Twe, our guide during our visit to the Inle Lake area. Having spent the day with her, she is super and her english superb and totally understandable (this can sometimes be a problem, even if their vocabulary is good!)
Some facts and figures about Inle Lake: A beautiful highland lake, 900 meters above sea level, but at its deepest only about 4 meters. The lake is 22km long and 10km across, and inhabited by many different ethnic nationals of the area. The Intha people are the lake dwellers who are unique for their leg rowing. The lake is located in Shan State, the largest state in the country with about 30% of the population comprising 33 different tribes with 33 different languages and is considered part of the Golden Triangle.
On our ride from Heho, we visited the Shwe Yan Pyae Monestery which houses 700 or so Shan Buddha images. Beautiful intricate glass decoration and gold leaf were a part of its former glory. The school part of the monestery, built of teak now weathered, still houses young monks.
In Nyuangshwe we dropped off our bags at the jetty and hopped on bicycles to ride a couple of miles along country lanes to the Red Mountain Winery. A winery was about the last thing I imagined we’d visit in Myanmar! but thanks to a local Shan resident who, as Twe Twe put it “hit the jackpot” in gem mining, here we are! He imported vines from France about 8 years ago and is now producing some very nice wine. We had a delicious lunch and tasted wine in the hilltop setting overlooking vineyards and Inle Lake.
After cycling back to the jetty, we boarded our long boat for the exhilarating ride to our lake hotel. We saw many of the local Intha leg-rowing fishermen. What an extraordinary thing! but they all do it effortlessly. I know where one person would land if attempting it! We arrived at our hotel, the Shwe Yee Pwint, after about an hour. Wow! our own little chalet on stilts over the water. I have always been addicted to the thrill of the journey, and the series of long haul flights to get here were so part of it all! Now we can enjoy a few days of relaxation on this beautiful lake.