CLOUDS AND SUNSHINE
December 2011: Inle welcomed us in clouds and with a heavy rain. On the one hand this is depressing as you cannot see much of the lake and its beautiful scenery but on the other hand it gives the place a mystic flair.
We were hoping for good weather for our planned tours for the next day as we were not equipped against rain whilst being on an open boat. And yes, the sun came out and revealed the beauty of the lake, the blue colour of the sky with scattered clouds majestically hanging over and between the mountains, people were moving around on their boats, and the houses on long stilts as well as the green of the floating gardens created an unforgettable memory.
ON THE WAY TO INLE
Most people get to Inle from Heho Airport. On the way you can stop by the Shwe Yan Pyay monastry. It is a red painted teak wood building with unique oval shaped windows from the 19th century. It is an active monastry where for instance you can see the novices studying and monks taking their only meal for the day before 11am (after this hour they will not eat anymore). Take your time at the place and it will reward you with a feeling of peace and tranquillity.
PLACES TO EXPLORE
There is a lot to see and explore at Inle, အင်းလေး, which is Myanmar's most famous အင်း meaning lake or pond in Burmese . You need at least two full days to enjoy the place. Highlights include a variety of handicrafts shops, monasteries, villages and market places. We found the lotus weaving industry particularly interesting. Pay attention to the special robes for monks. Read more.
Sagar, a hidden village south of the lake, gave us a special experience; it is in fact an ancient city with mystic stupas partly underwater. The boat tour of about 3 hours let you enjoy spectacular views of the lake. You will also see people busy doing their things at the lake side.
For more tips find an overview here.
This ethnic group is well known because of their long-neck women. In fact the long neck is more an optical illusion but it is pretty and unique. And it is interesting to learn the reason behind the scene, which is, building up the brass coils around the neck as a symbol of wealth, status and beauty. They are definitely the stars on many photos tourists take and post on Facebook.
Visiting the tribe is a highlight although the place has become quite touristic by now, which is unavoidable as Myanmar gets more and more popular. Let's not forget tourism will provide necessary income for people in Myanmar.