Saturday, June 9, 2012

Myanmar / Thailand Trip Recap (8)

Day 9 - Inle

Our time at Mandalay finally came to an end and we boarded a plane to Heho.  Our guide warmly welcomed us at the airport and immediately, I told her if I don't want to go to Pindaya, what are my options.  Pindaya is mainly famous for its limestone caves called Pindaya Caves where thousands of Buddha images have been consecrated for worship over the centuries... I can't see how this would impress me after being disappointed at the Pyin Oo Lwin cave...

Heho Airport
small but currently renovating
On the way, we stopped at a local craft store where locals showed us how the make paper and umbrellas all by hand.  The owner is a humorous guy and he is so fast!!  We also made a stop at another temple / monastery after hearing some wedding music... we didn't see the bride and groom but we saw some of the cutest cats!

local craft stop on the way to town
girls making paper from pulp
handmade umbrella
the friendly and funny shop owner
no law on child labor here
the blooming Phoenix tree
rice fields
wonder what he's doing
an unknown temple we randomly stopped at
friendly cat
After some discussion, we decided to go to a local vineyard (Red Mountain Estate) - YAY!!!  Since we had extra time, we had more time to explore on our way and our guide also took us to the Nyaung Shwe market for a look-around.  We picked up quite a bit of snacks and we had a picnic style lunch at the winery.
Nyangshwe market
pretty minority girl
selling Shan rice
selling Shan tofu
a variety of beans
colorful baskets, perfect for picnics
avocado larger than my hand
beautiful flowers
palm fruit
biking around town
cooking asphalt to pave roads
Although the wine itself wasn't impressive (the chardonnay was just okay), I loved the view from the vineyard.  In fact, I heard there are two vineyards in the area, the other being owned and operated by a German entrepreneur, the Aythaya Vineyard.  Maybe the other winery would have offered better wines?  Either way, I am just glad we didn't go to Pindaya.  Our guide finally said during lunch that the roads to Pindaya are rough and bumpy and it's just another caves filled with thousands of Buddha statues...

Ruby winery
doesn't this look like the beginning scene of "Lunar - the Silver Star Story"?

wine tasting @ 3,000 kyats
Chardonnay is extra
After lunch, we took a speed boat to our hotel at Inle, the Golden Island Cottages.  It almost looked like a resort you only see at Bora Bora or Maldives.  When we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by a crew of hotel staff.  Since we got there earlier than expected, we were able to spend more time at the cottages.  I love this place!!!  We lounged at the balcony and observed the locals, some of them were catching fish, others were taking a swim, or just enjoying themselves.  There was this kid with his sister singing and jumping on their boat.  I can't understand what he was singing but I know that he sounded happy and content.  Their family probably have their own worries just like the rest of us, but life is so much simpler and happiness seemed easier to reach here.
our cool captain and smily guide
The famed Intha one-legged rower
the picture didn't do the lake justice, it so much prettier there
love the fuchsia umbrellas

warmly welcomed by the hotel staff
perfect way to spend an afternoon
sister always gets the tough job
amazing sunset by the lake
Since there is no transportation after night-fall, we ate at the hotel.  It was quite pricey, and we expected better quality.  To our disappointment, the fish was stale.  Unbelievable!  How could the hotel serve stale food to their customers when there are plenty of fish in the lake and the lake is just below us, notwithstanding the fact that they were also charging us a premium???  

picturesque, almost unreal

pricey hotel restaurant
looks good but the fish is staled - yes, even when there were fresh fish just beneath us in the lake!
everything else was good otherwise
Little did I know, the real horror was actually waiting for me outside.  The stale fish was nothing compared to this...  I can't say I wasn't prepared for this... during dinner, I already had a glimpse of these ugly creatures (if you are wondering, i am talking about lizards) on the screen door... I just couldn't imagine the sheer number of them on the bridge from the restaurant back to our room... my screams are guaranteed heard within the entire hotel... probably echoed into the mountains as well... at least that's how I felt... Every time I think about it I get goosebumps...  Luckily, there were none inside the room.  Since it's their natural habitat and they actually do eat mosquitoes, I really can't do anything about them... other than running and screaming and avoiding going out after dark... so sad... :'(

imagine walking 8 minutes on this bridge,
only it's lizard infested... ~~>.<~~
So again, even though Myanmar is no doubt an amazing country with beautiful scenery and friendly people, you have to be prepared for these "inconveniences" that can creep up to you...  Yet I loved Inle too much so I would still return in spite of the lizards...


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