After enjoying our breakfast buffet by the pool we checked out of our Yangon hotel and set of for the airport ready for the next part of our adventure, Lake Inle. The domestic airport was a stark contrast to the international arrivals we had flown into just a couple of days prior, it was tired and I recall the luggage scales looking very retro, almost like a giant kitchen scale your grandma may have owned.
Once we had checked in we needed to exchange our US Dollars for Kyat because outside of Yangon our credit cards would be useless as would the crisp unspoilt USD bills that are accepted in the city. All of our hotel accomodation and transfers had been pre-paid via an online booking site, so we just needed cash for meals, sightseeing trips, taxis and of course local refreshments. Given it was 7 years ago I can’t remember how much we exchanged but I want to say it was a couple of hundred USD, so we were rather shocked when the Kyat was given to us in a small plastic bag and felt rather wealthy as we struggled to zip up our travel wallets…
(You’ll have to forgive the quality of photos in these travel posts as I was an Apple fan back then and you realise how far phone cameras have come in just a few years!)
Our hotel for the next couple of nights was one with a difference, it was a ‘floating’ hotel, because on Lake Inle the lake is the source of life.
People live on, work on and feed from the lake and the fishermen are known for their unique way of fishing, standing on one leg so they can paddle with the other while they fish. It was amazing to watch them at work as we made our way to our hotel.
Like the hotel, homes and work places are built on stilts or on the banks of the water and we were able to witness the local community hard at work, a silversmith in the midst of his creation in a haze of heat at the forge and weavers creating stunning silk garments at the mill…
Another day, another opportunity to observe life on the lake, market day. As our boat approached the dock it was hard not to compare the sight to the supermarket carparks we use when we do our weekly shop.
The market traded fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, handmade goods, clothing and medication in tattered looking boxes.
Of course there were people selling their wares to tourists like ourselves, such as handmade silver jewellery, silk purses and clothing too. I like to buy local and bought a few bits to support the small community that benefits from the growing tourist trade.
Like all villages and communities the lake is also home to a number of temples and religious monuments, which we admired as we drifted past villages on the lake on route back to our hotel.
On our final night on Lake Inle we enjoyed the local cuisine before retiring to our room and relaxing on the balcony as we listened for life on the lake, insects buzzing, the sound of music from the restaurant and water lapping up against the building stilts as boats passed by.
Our next stop was Bagan and I was excited to see if the sights were as stunning as those we had seen, which had inspired us to add it as a place on our list of places to go…