Journey to Inle Lake
We made our way to the bus station, excited for the next part of our journey. “Two tickets to Inle Lake please, oh and how long does it take”. The man scribbled something on a piece of paper, handed us the ticket in exchange for cash, spat his chewing tobacco on the floor and mumbled “maybe 6 hours”. Unfortunately his timings hadn't been quite accurate as we sat squashed in the tiny mini bus 10 hours into the journey, and we still had further to go. On the other hand the views were incredible. Mountains draped in mist passed by as the rain bounced of the windows. The bus twisted and turned around the mountain roads making its way towards Inle Lake. Eventually, 12 hours into our gruelling bus journey the bus came to an abrupt stop. The driver shouted “Inle Lake” as we clumsily grabbed our rucksacks and climbed out of the rickety mini bus. As we stood by the side of the road, unsure of our whereabouts a taxi suddenly stoped in front of us. He explained that its a few more miles to Inle Lake and stated that the bus doesn't take you all the way there. We threw our stuff inside and continued our never ending journey. The car passed through marsh fields filled with water spilling onto the roads ahead. The water gushed from left to the right as the road disappeared under the fast flowing river of rain. We gave the driver a name of a local guesthouse and he dropped us off outside. We had arrived at Nyaungshwe; which was the accommodation and transport hub of the region. It wasn't a particularly pleasant or picturesque place but after all that didn't really matter. The evening had now fallen and we were exhausted from our long journey so we had decided to leave the exploring for the following day. >>>
The next morning we set off by foot towards Inle lake, unsure of what to expect from the day ahead. We caught our first glimpse of the lake and it was simply breath-taking. The lake was fringed with marshes, floating gardens, stilt-houses and Buddhist temples rising above the water, whilst fishermen sailed their boats along via their unique technique of leg-rowing. The lake was 13.5 miles long and 7 miles wide. Around the edges mountains towered into the cloudy sky creating beautiful reflections like artwork painted onto canvas. There were no roads or bridges connecting the small villages and communities living on the lake. Instead locals and visitors alike got around in wooden boats fitted with outboard propellers, which could be raised and lowered depending on the water levels. Over 200 monasteries are scattered on the lake with the most well known being Nga Hpe Kyaung or otherwise known as the Jumping Cat Monastery were cats are trained by Monks to jump through hoops. Apart from the jumping cats, the watery world of Inle Lake with its beautiful Monasteries and magnifcant floating villages is in our opinion the highlight of Burma (Myanmar). We believe its nearly impossible to leave here feeling disappointed with what you have seen.