A beautiful lake and a dump of a town
Inle Lake Travel Blog› entry 253 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), John (Myanmar)
As our boat weaved its way down the narrow tributary that led from Indein to Inle Lake, it was fascinating to watch the local men bathing not only themselves, but also their water buffalo's. It felt like been transfered back in time and it was moments like these in Myanmar that often made you stop and wonder what century you were in! Rather than garages for cars, the water way was filled with garages for boats, the most popular form of transport in this area. Already it was becoming clear that people living here lived a different kind of existence from most other people in the World.
Soon the boat navigated its way into a residential area, with houses built on stilts and the only mode of transport from one house to another been by canoe. It was strange to be driving down a waterway that was actually a road, with boats passing you rather than cars! It was all so picturesque and nothing like i'd expected it to be. We passed through the floating gardens of Kela, where a range of crops were been grown on the lake and eventually came to Nga Pha Chaung Monastery, otherwise known as the jumping cat monastery. When there are enough tourists, the monks normally make the cats perform tricks like jumping through hoops to get their food. As Julia, myself and 2 other Westerners were currently the only ones there, neither the monks nor the cats could be bothered to rise from their slumber.
Passing out of the narrow 'roads' that were in this area, we eventually came out onto the Lake proper and it looked stunning with scenic mountains making a beautiful backdrop. Soon we got our first taste of the local fishing scene, as we stopped to watch a couple of guys trying their luck. The boats are steered using their legs to move a single oar, whilst they drop nets or baskets down to try and make their catches. It was fascinating to watch for a short time, but the boat man seemed in a hurry and soon began to drive off. We passed quite a few other fishermen on the Lake and it seemed a pretty ideal little place to be plying your trade. I'm sure the realisms would be far different if you actually looked into it, with stinking wages and draining days out in the sun.
Around 4pm the boat docked in the town of Nyaungshwe and we disembarked at a hotel where John had sent our bags to. It had always been agreed that the bags would be sent here but we didn't have to stay there if we didn't want to. After having a look at the rooms, we decided that we would like to look at a few other places before we made our final choice, which is the normal plan of action everywhere that we go. In fairness the room was pretty nice, but it was about 50% more than we had been paying elsewhere in Myanmar.
Finally we chose a different hotel (50% cheaper) and said our goodbyes, a little peeved but still happy with the overall service. After showering we went out and got some food at a nice little place called the Century restaurant, where we also tried to get online, but the connection was non existent.
The following day we had a pretty poor hotel breakfast and a cold shower as they hadn't sorted out their 'hot water problem'. More like they didn't want to spend money fixing it. Walking into town, which was only a couple of streets away, i was excited to see if it resembled any of the areas that we had seen the previous day, but i was disappointed that there was nothing of the sort. It was just a dirty little concrete town, lacking in both character and charm. Lunch was taken at the Lonely Planet recommended Big Drum, who had hiked their prices up 3 fold since the book was published and surely must have changed chefs, beause the food was diabolical.
By 2pm it was a question of how we could kill the rest of the day and we were regretting not having caught the afternoon bus out of there. After shopping around a little, we picked up our bus ticket to Bago for the following day and decided to ask out of curiosity how much Lake tours were, which we had taken yesterday. I was shocked to hear them start at $10, without even beginning to negotiate, as John had made us pay $15 and told us it was a 'special price' that he had arranged for us and would normally cost more. If the guy had been that desperate for an extra $5 i'd rather he had asked me than pull a fast one like this. Coupled with what he had done regarding the hotel, I now felt quite cross with him.
Heading back to the hotel to try and calm down, all I could think of was the day when I'd leave the country. My opinion of the people had done a 180 degree turn and the final straw came back at the hotel that evening. Not only did they once again not switch on the hot water that they kept promising, but the manager was on a rampage and smashing up the hotel for some reason. I have no clue why, but it wasn't very pleasant and we kept ourselves locked in the room. To end his fit, he switched the hotels generator off at 10pm, pitching us into complete darkness, cheers!
Checking out the following day other members of staff muttered some apologies, but it was too little, too late.