Saturday, October 5, 2013

Inle Lake - Boat Cruise

Throughout my 5-day trip in Myanmar, I spent most of the nights on the road heading to the next destinations, with the exception of spending a night in Bagan on the second day. Somehow, I don't feel it is any more tiring than staying for a night in a hostel or hotel. Maybe the very fact that I can sleep in a moving vehicle helps rejuvenate my energy.

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..

At about 5 in the morning, we decided to go out for a stroll, leaving behind our backpacks in aforementioned hotel. The sun was yet to rise and we were shivering nonstop. We stopped by at a local restaurant for breakfast before continuing exploring the town. While we waited for boat operators to begin the day, we saw rows of saffron-robed monks walking in single file, collecting alms. Myanmar is a Buddhist nation and this is quite a common sight.

Look at how their robes covered their whole 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.

Our boat

One of the two operators on the boat with us and yes, he's just a kid...

The first pit stop (of sort) was seeing how the fishermen of Inle Lake work. Intha fishermen has unique way of rowing the boats. Instead of using their hands, they rely on their legs to row it. Their reason being that legs are much stronger than hands. They also maintain their traditional fishing method of nets instead of using the latest technology. This way, there will be less damages done to the ecosystem.

One local fisherman posing for you..he expects you to leave him tips, though

Another pose..

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

Traditional puppets

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.



  1. Wow! That's quite a gamble taking a bus to arrive in Yangon at 5 to catch a flight at 9.

  2. So beautiful... When my dorm mate in Phnom Penh went to Inle Lake and put the photo in FB while tagging me, I was so jealous. Hehe. Such a nice place.

    The road seems to be very clean?

  3. Rusli: Actually still ok la..the bus terminal to airport is not that far away...

    Khai: Actually, Inle Lake is not in my itinerary but I met a Taiwanese and he said it is very I tagged along and was quite amazed by it...and yea, the streets in Myanmar are quite clean...