After about 9 hours journey from Bagan (costs 10,000 kyat, about USD 12), our bus stopped at Taunggyi, and from there, we have to transit to Inle Lake with a taxi. By the time we reached the town, we were all shivering in coldness. The close proximity to the lake itself makes the temperature here at night much colder and simply unbearable. We have to find a hotel that is willing to let us borrow their bathrooms to freshen ourselves up and hang around the living room to wait for sunrise. As both of us were only making a quick pit stop here in Inle Lake and will be heading back Yangon later in the afternoon, renting a room seems unnecessary. And luckily, we found one, Gold Star Hotel.
|Not much people this early in the morning..|
|Look at how their robes covered their whole bodies...it is that cold|
Our boat cruise began at about 8 in the morning, when the sun was all bright and shine. We hired a boat for about 17,000 kyats (about USD 20), shared among the two of us, for about 5 hours of exploration in the lake. It was just amazing to be on the boat, cruising deep into the centre of the lake, watching the inhabitants going through their regular lives. Although the strong wind brushing our faces made us shivered more.
|One of the two operators on the boat with us and yes, he's just a kid...|
|One local fisherman posing for you..he expects you to leave him tips, though|
Then, our guide brought us to the famous Buddhist temple, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. Also spelt Hpaung Daw U Pagoda, this is one of the most respected temples in the region. At the centre of the shrine is where the five gold-leaf covered Buddha images are located. While the temple is open to everyone, only men are allowed to be near to the images.
|Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda|
|The said images of Buddha|
Our third, fourth and fifth stops were catered more to tourists. In short, tourist traps. We stopped at a textile village, a handicraft village, and a silverware workshop in this order. You will get to see how they produce and make the products and most of it are done traditioally. You are not required to buy anything from them but do brace yourself for some hard sell. If you don't want anything, just politely refuse and they will move on to the next customers.
|A woman weaving in the textile village|
|A long neck woman|
|Colourful umbrellas in the umbrella workshop|
|Silversmiths toiling early in the day|
For me, what so great about this boat cruise has nothing to do with these stops. In fact, it is the sights and sounds you adsorb along the way. As you move further into the centre of the lake (I assume), you will get to see how the locals live their lives. You will get to see the REAL fishermen (not the one posing for tourists) living their daily routines. And if you are into birds, Inle Lake is one spot for bird migrations.
|These waterbirds are aplenty here in the lake|
|Another unique attraction in Inle Lake, floating garden|
|Watching Intha fishermen toiling their days|
When the cruise came to an inevitable end, we went to have our lunch while waiting for our bus ride back to Yangon (15,000 kyats, about USD 18). It was another long ride ahead of us and by the time we reached Yangon, it was about 5 a.m. and I have to rush to catch my flight back Kuala Lumpur at 9 in the morning, marking the end of my Myanmar (very rush) expedition.