The main attraction at Inle Lake is to hire a longboat for a day and visit different places across the lake. Our boat for the day cost 18,000K, which we split between four people – a pretty cheap day out for 4500K (about $5) each!
We visited the obligatory souvenir shops – silk weaving, papermaking, and silver smiths. It’s good that they don’t pressure you to buy anything – a lot of it was kitschy stuff anyway.
Zooming through the floating gardens, where they actually have floating fields growing tomatoes and other vegetables was amazing, and the villages where all the houses on stilts were incredible – it’s so strange to think they live their whole lives above the water.
We visited temples at Indein, located up a long stream about half an hour from the lake. There were hundreds of old, crumbling temples crowded together, with all manner of vegetation growing from them. It was awesome! We thought, this is what Bagan should have been like – it’s probably what it was like before the temples were all ‘restored’ there. The result at Bagan is that the temples are all symmetrical and look as they did hundreds of years ago when they were built, but they haven’t been restored using the appropriate methods and materials. Unfortunately, the same thing appears to be happening at Indein – we saw a number of old crumbly temples being plastered over when we were there. It was quite sad to think that in a few years time the wonderful atmosphere that is Indein at present will probably be gone.
Our last stop for the day was at the so-called ‘jumping cat monastery’. We knew that the cats don’t jump any more (the monk who taught them to jump died and the other monks didn’t carry the jumping training on, apparently), but it was quite weird and also very cute to see a monastery full of cats. There were some very cute tiny kittens that crawled onto my lap and went to sleep!
The sun started to go down as we crossed the lake back to Nyaungshwe, and it was freezing with the wind blowing across the water. Fortunately there were umbrellas to shelter us from the wind! Sunset was pretty with some seagulls swooping for food thrown from a nearby boat.
It was a very unique and totally recommended day out – especially for the price! One of the best things we have done in Myanmar for sure.
To Yangon next!