Monday, November 13, 2017

Inle Lake and Nyaung

Life on the Canal
The plane from Yangon to HeHo Airport (nearest to Inle Lake) is a large prop plane – it's been a long time since I've flown with propellers.
Nyuang is very quaint
Soaring above the Yangon I am stuck how quickly the urban landscape morphs into lush, colorful farm-landscape. The Irrawaddy Delta surrounds the fields, like a snake coiled around its prey.
Heho Airport is small. It makes the Melbourne International Airport look like Hartsfield in Atlanta. At Heho, one walks out from the small prop plane to the tarmac, flown by Golden Myanmar airlines and ascends the 4 steps to descend the plane. I’ve been on the tarmac many times before but always there has been a full flight of stairs to get to the plane. This one is low to the ground. The baggage goes into the front of the plane.  We disembark and the baggage is waiting for us after our cursory stop at immigration/customs. No matter that this is a domestic flight, check the tourist’s papers-check the locals papers.

We ate here twice
Outside the taxis await. It is a 25.00 ride to Nyaung, which sits on Inle Lake and out hotel, the Apex stands. Inle sits in a glacial valley between mountain ranges. We wind and twist on the road, passing water buffalo, horse carts, heavy machinery widening the road and the ever plethora of motorcycles. It is very green here and far, far away. Both Monkey Man and I agree; it is beginning to feel like Vacay. As there is much road construction on the way to Nyaung, our driver takes a wonderful shortcut, thru the marshes and villages on the east side of the lake. Trees line the road, vehicles squeeze by each other threatening to careen off into the marsh and the school children on their bikes. Men are fishing, women washing clothes, in the distance, we see our first floating gardens.

Schools Out!
The Apex Hotel is a 3-story affair, located near the central canal. Min Ga La Bae (hello in Myanmarese). Our rooms are on the second floor, which is really the 3rd floor in other countries.  The rooms are very nice. The bathrooms are wet rooms – the shower is to the side and once someone showers, the floor is wet. Flip-Flops are provided. It’s late afternoon and we need some lunch. Stopping at an nearby restaurant, we are treated to a lovely meal. Grilled pork, sautéed fresh water fish filet, French fries, wok vegetables, potato salad cucumber salad and a Lassi for my baby. Service is slow in this part of the world, mainly because all is prepared fresh. Across the street, at the football (soccer) field a night market is advertised. Again, we have ordered too much food yet the bill is less than 20.00USD.

Afterward, we walk off our late lunch and school is let out. Hundreds f kids on bike and motorcycles wiz past us. Monkey Man makes a game of high fiving the boys as they zip past us. Mom’s on motorcycles with 3 kids on board, talk on their cell phones driving on a heavily potholed road. It’s just another day in the city.

Lovely coffee right here daily
Nyuang or Inle Lake is green and safe. It is almost untouched from the tourists who visit to view the pristine waters and village living.

One of the things I am most struck about Myanmar, is how the people retain their culture. 99% of the people still wear the traditional clothing – men in longi’s, women in long ornate dresses and tight-fitting tops. All have the special mud spread on their cheeks and foreheads. No sunburn here. This goes for bank managers, grand poohbah’s and the lowliest workers. 
 Live in Inle is slow. The market retains it’s local flavor with very few tourist shops – it’s all groceries and cookware. The temperature is cool here, as the elevation is high. 

That evening we hire a open truck taxi to take us on a sunset drive “go to the villages – not the town”. What a great ride. Our driver takes us down dirt tracks – you can’t call it a road, past fields of yellow flowers, sugarcane and tomatoes. Families are having dinner, under their stilt homes, surrounded by chickens and dogs and children and grandmas. The driver turns into a monastery with states it s the Old Folks Home. It’s just a thru way to a dozen Stupa’s overgrown with trees and vegetation and an old above ground cemetery. Winding thru the forest, the path opens up to a ornate temple with a huge blue buddha, front and center. In front of the Buddha, as dozen kids play soccer, before the sun sets. Behind the Buddha, sits several dozen Stupa’s and behind those, a cultivated lotus pond, with a golden buddha sitting under a protective naga. It is sublime with the vivid colors of the sunset framing the temple.

As Prima says, ‘A photo rich environment.”

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