The end point of our 3 day trek from Kalaw was Inle Lake and this was a place that i had really wanted to visit in Myanmar.
At the end of the trek, we had to take a boat from the Southern end of the lake to the Northern end which is where the main town is.
To be honest we saw so much on this boat trip which took about an hour that we didn’t think we would need to go back out on the lake. We past the village, a temple, we saw fishermen fishing in the local way when then lake all opened out and i was totally blown away.
We arrived in the town and went to pick up our big bags from Goodwin hotel where our guesthouse in Kalaw had dropped them while we were trekking and rather than going out and looking for accommodation we decided to stay there where we paid $20 USD for a twin room per night. (although if you’re reading this and going to Inle Lake, do not stay there! It was filthy with unhelpful staff!!).
I didn’t think there would be much to do in Inle Lake and thought it was just the lake and seen as we had already seen quite a bit i wasn’t sure how we would pass the next day but sure enough our first full day in Inle Lake was a a great one…
We hired bikes and biked to a Winery we had heard about which was about 20 minutes away by bike… who would of thought Myanmar has wineries?? I know, but it did and it was beautiful! It wasn’t a case of seeing how they were grown or how the wine was made or anything but instead just admiring the gorgeous view outside the restaurant, drinking their wine and eating good food.
We ended up staying there for a few hours gossiping general girl talk and talking about the trek.
We then headed back into the town and decided to find somewhere we could get a Burmese Massage.
We passed a sign which said family massage, this did sound a bit strange but at the same time there were 5 of us and normally places can’t do all 5 people at one time and this sounded like they had the potential to do it so we headed there and were greeted by some lovely ladies who said Yes they could do a massage for us all at the same time and for only 7000k/ £3.50 each! Bargain.
We had a cup of tea followed by such a good massage! The main difference between a Burmese Massage and any other massage I’ve had is that they ended by doing your back whereas normally full body massages start with the back and all of us agreed that we way preferred this. After thanking our ladies and having more tea and biscuits we left and were pleased that so far that day including hiring a bike, having a glass of wine, lunch and a massage we had only spent £7.00!! So good!
Our next stop was Mandalay which can be done on an overnight bus so we still had all of the next day to use up. There wasn’t much to do in he town so we decided to take a boat trip, we felt we had seen a good bit of the lake from our first day but were happy to see more as we had a day to spare and the trip was really cheap so we thought why not?
In short we were so glad we decided to get back on the lake! We started the morning at 7am and it was so misty we were all thinking ‘what are we doing??’ as we couldn’t see anything and had our rain jackets covering us, but by 9:00am the sun was starting to shine and it turned into a bright and sunny day.
The day was full of getting on and off the boat but we enjoyed it, we started at a market, then visited a cotton workshop, a tobacco workshop, a workshop where the ladies with the long necks were working (a side note on this, this is a very strange tradition, they originally wore these huge gold rings around their necks to stop tigers etc killing them way back when the tribes lived in the jungles however nowadays there is no need for them to wear them and they are purely worn for beauty but they are also very damaging, i think if they choose to wear them then of course that’s fine but i tried to ask if the young girls are forced into it but didn’t get an answer.. i just hope they aren’t as they can start from the age of 9!).
Visiting all the workshops was really interesting, it made me realise how much goes into making all of the scarfs and clothes we see in the shops. The best bit of the day in my opinion though was just cruising through their river streets and seeing all the houses propped up on stilts and realising that if you need to get about here you have to use the water.. we saw a nursery, a temple, a monastery all floating, children playing on boats and to them this must be totally normal and it was really nice to witness this in a way that isn’t yet too touristy.
Before we knew it we were getting picked up at 6:30pm for our night bus to Mandalay… although the bus didn’t leave the station until 9:00pm.. have i mentioned buses in Myanmar don’t seem to make sense?? But overall i really enjoyed Inle Lake, it was such a gorgeous place, the town itself isn’t much but there is plenty to do around it, in fact I’m sure we could of filled a third day there quite easily!