Travel doesn’t become adventure until you leave yourself behind.
– Marty Ruby
I had no idea where the bus was gonna drop me off, and I was thinking about not going to see Inle Lake, but after meeting Coops in Vietnam I decided to go stay at the hotel she lived in and see the lake. As you do. My Myanmar adventure was very random…
The bus from Yangon goes to Taunggyi and Nuaung Shwe and drops people off several places, so make sure to ask your hotel and/or the bus company/driver where it stops so you can get off at the most convenient point for you. Should you end up in Taunggyi needing to go to Nyaung Shwe (about 1 hr by car) there are plenty of people to take you. The main “problem” for me has been the mental stress of the timing on these buses, both in Vietnam and in Myanmar. They leave at between 6pm-8pm and arrive where they’re going literally in the middle of the night (3am-5am). This mental stress has proved to be unfounded however as in Vietnam I just waited for a couple of hours where the bus dropped us off (the hostel kept its reception open for travellers because of the bus) and in Myanmar I just walked to the hotel thinking I’d wait outside until the reception opened, only to find they had gotten up specifically for me as they knew I was coming.
Nyaung Shwe is full of restaurants, hotels, spas etc etc. It’s pretty touristy without being Hilton-class. The dirt roads are still there, the locals and the chickens and the stray dogs and the feel of it being slightly backwater bush, without the bush much… But the people are so friendly and accommodating and there’s a relaxed vibe around the place.
I stayed at Inle Star Hotel, which was right on the river and had some of the most pleasant staff I’ve ever encountered. They had set tours by boat ready to go, but these were “all day tours” and I still wasn’t feeling very well, so I asked if they could book me in with someone who could show me the floating village and Inle Lake + sunset and then take me back. I got a nice discount because I wasn’t seeing everything and they proceeded to fix everything. The very next day Sashinue (probably not how she spells it) the receptionist walked with me to the boat, which was totally unnecessary since it was right across the tiny road from the hotel, and handed me over to Mieu Mieu, my boat dude.
He knew English words like “river”, “temple” and “yes” and we had a lovely conversation where he pointed and chatted and I pretended to understand what he was saying excitedly exclaiming “Ah! I see!” (I didn’t see, but he was polite and sweet, so it was all good).
He parked the boat about 45 minutes before sunset and we sat there waiting while I tried to figure out what the water lily plant was called… He gave me a name or a word, but who knows if that’s the actual name, I can’t even remember what it was at this point.
All I remember clearly is Mieu Mieu was on his cellphone a lot, he had the ubiquitous stains on his lips and jaw from the tobacco they all chew (the dark orange/clay stained spots you see on the ground is often this spit out left by the locals) and that it was a really long wait with someone who doesn’t speak more than three words of any language you speak.
The sunset was worth it though. Sorry about the repetition in pictures 😉