Link to more photos of the area :-
P1010577-100.jpgP1010578-100.jpg Lake Inle, Southern Shan State, Myanmar
Many domestic flights in Myanmar fly in circuits, so my trip to Heho, the nearest airport to Inle (aka Inlay) lake involved two short hops, each taking about 25 minutes. This flight cost $65 USD.
The first hop from Nyaung U (Bagan) to Mandalay passed quickly, but the Yangon Airways plan was visibly older than the Air KBZ one, and there were no snacks or inflight magazine. Almost all the passengers left the plane in Mandalay, I think only 3 remained, but the plane soon filled again with passengers for Heho or Yangon.
Soon we were back on the ground in Heho - as soon as you left the plane the temperature difference was obvious.
The airport is 1,176m (3,858) feet above sea level, and I'd estimate the mid-morning temperate at about 10C! Jumpers and coats were standard attire.
Approx 1/3 (25) of the passengers aboard left the plane - I was hoping to share a taxi for the 1 hour journey to Nyaung Shwe, but I was the only passenger that hadn't made arrangements in advance - most seemed to be travelling on pre-arranged tours.
Thus I had to pay 25,000 kyat (32.5 USD) for the interesting 1 hour journey, and then another $5USD entry fee to the Lake Inle area just as we approached the town.
My first choice of accomadation was full, but there was no problem at my 2nd choice - Mingalar Inn.
This worked out well, as this guesthouse was well located and had very helpful and friendly staff and a great breakfast ! Rooms range from $10-$20 - I splashed out and stayed in the $20 room.
After a wander around the town, which is based around a central market, and a few draught Myanmar beers and some chinese food for lunch, I returned to the guest house to take up the offer of a canoe trip.
The 3 hour canoe trip from the friendly guesthouse owner was great. Everywhere he went he was greated with smiles and a quick chat. His English was good enough to explain facts about the lake-based communities we visited, and finished with sunset at the Pagoda, watching the novice monks play. I would highly recommend this, at a cost of 7,000 kyat ($9USD) for the 2 passenger canoe.
The Green Chili resturant provided some good Thai food at a reasonable price to finish my first day.
I'd also asked at the guest-house about sharing a motorboat trip on one of the next days - they gladly arranged for me to share with 2 pleasant South Koreans.
The all-day motor-boat trip (18,000 Kyat for entire boat and driver) is also a great experience. The lake is 17 miles long, and during the day you visit lake-side markets, local craft workshops (Weaving, Cigars (local cheroots) & Silversmiths), and a couple of interesting pagodas. I got on well with the two other guests and had some interesting conversations. By the time we reached the 'jumping cat' pagoda, where the monks have trained cats to jump through high hoops, the moggies were too tired to perform !
Some Burmese food at Miss Nyaungshwe Restuart, and a few beers was a pleasant end to the day.
My third and final day was spent wandering around the town, visiting the pagoda and market. Lunch was taken at a restuarant called "Unique - Superb food". It was fresh local fish and very good and very reasonably priced - recommended, the evening meal taken elsewhere was OK but nothing special.
After another great breakfast (fresh coffee, fresh fruit, lime juice, some local samosa's, eggs & toast and a pancake!), the taxi back to Heho airport in a much better car was 15K Kyat - almost half the price of the previous journey.
Nyaung Shwe town has a nice vibe, and a good mix of locals/travellers - you could easily spend some time relaxing and staying interested here.
Due to fog at Mandalay, most arrivals into Heho were delayed. My flight back to Yangon (Air KBZ, $95 USD) left 1.5 hours late !
I'd recommend the Inle Lake area, Southern Shan State, Myanmar to all !
Link to more photo's follows.
Graham. Absolutely fantastic photos. Daily life much more interesting than scenery to me. Thank you so much.