In total, we spent almost 3 full days in Nyaung Swe and surroundings, and loved every moment. Inle Lake may be one of the more touristy destinations by Burmese standards, but when compared with the rest of the world, it is still an unspoiled pearl. Another major advantage of the lake is that the temperature is about 10 degrees Celsius lower as compared to say Bagan (only 30-ish instead of 40+). The first day (after again arriving with a night bus) we rested a bit, explored the village itself, and decided on the adventures of the two days to come.
On day 2, we went on the lake with a boater we had met the day before. For about 15 EUR you can rent yourself a boat for the whole day, no matter how many people come aboard (max. 8). We arranged the thing for ourselves, and went early to enjoy the sunrise on the lake. The lake itself is large, but extremely shallow (max. 2-3 meters). On the lake, you see many traditional fishermen, ‘leg-rowers’. They propel the boat forward with one leg while handling their nets with their hands. You can see one in action in the picture above. There was also another type of fisherman, but we still do not fully understand their method:
The day was a bit of an immersion into the traditional ways of life. First, we saw the local floating market (which was not floating on the day we went due to shallow waters). This market is near a different lake village every day of the week. While a part of the market was clearly meant for tourists, other parts were really authentic. We really enjoyed walking around as locals around us were buying their meats, rice and vegetables, or eating breakfast together.
Other stops that day included a silver smith, a hand-weaving factory, a tobacco workshop, a temple and a monastery. We especially enjoyed the weaving tour. Among other things, they showed us how they spun thread from lotus fiber, which was interesting.
Another highlight was the boat ride through the floating gardens. The scenery is incredibly picturesque:
Last but not least, we finally got ourselves a bit of a tan, which is also nice 🙂
On our final day, we again went to the jetty and told the boater to skip all the touristy stuff and bring us to Inn Thein Payas and back. When you are in Myanmar, you truly ought to go there. There certainly are tourists (few), make yourself no illusions, but this place was the only place we felt like real tomb-explorers.
There are hundreds of ruins, often complete with old artifacts (we found pottery, murals, buddha statues, shells and even an ancient-looking manuscript). We of course left them where they were, but could not help to thing that this was Valhalla for tomb-raiders. We are going to leave you with a few pictures of what the place was like, as no description can do it justice.