10/6/13 - 10/6/13
First Impressions of Inle Lake
Returning from remote Mrauk U, we have arrived in the backpacker mecca of Inle Lake, the town of Nyaung Schwe. Fish and chips, Indian food, boutique hotels, spa and massage, travel agents, bike rental, wine – perhaps we have arrived at Shangri-La. We checked into La Maison Bermaine and quickly reserved 4 nights after we looked at the impressive $90 villa. Brand new, teak construction with lots of windows and high vaulted ceiling. Gorgeous hardwoods throughout the interior. Before setting out we met a chatty Colombian architect who is designing a five star hotel on the lake and he steered us to nearby bike rental ($1.50/day for a 5 speed) and guide service in case we need one. He also mentioned a favorite Indian Restaurant and we cruised about town on 2 wheels and found Indra just in time for lunch. She runs a hole-in-the-wall Indian Restaurant by the market and quickly had us seated and exploring the menu, along with her urgent interpretation. Her charms were irresistible and we ordered chicken curry and chapatti with all the requisite delicious sauces.
Afterwards, we headed west and hit the jetty to engage a super-friendly boat captain who enlisted us for a trip on Oct 8 to follow the boat procession that corresponds with the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival (Inle Lake) 5th - 22nd October. Please read below the pics for a brief explanation of the festival. Yippee, Nge and Min Min the amazing hotel managers just told me we can stay until Oct. 12. Boat races here we come!
The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival is held with great magnificence and pageantry, with fairs and dances everywhere. 4 x holiest Buddha images are ceremoniously tugged clockwise around the lake on a decorated royal barge by leg-rowing boats stopping at each village to let people pay homage. The procession of the Inle leg-rowers in full pageantry and ceremonial splendor is a sight not to be missed by anyone visiting Myanmar. The unique and most interesting event of the festival is, of course, the Shan traditional boat races participated by leg-rowers of both men and women dressed in their national costumes.
Credit to journeysmyanmar.com