For our first full day on the lake we decided we wanted to be on the lake. This is not something we booked in advance so we spoke to the hotel, because basically there were no other options. They had a package boat tour for 30,000 kyat (about $30 at the time) for the day but it included several craft workshop stops which did not interest us. We also wanted to visit a place not on the list called Inthar Heritage house (because, cats). In the end, we hired a private boat and created our own custom trip with fewer stops. It turned out to be better for us and less expensive.
The day took about 7 hours and we left early in the morning with “Inle Boy” boat. It cost 18,000 kyat for the day, plus the tip we gave the boat driver.
#Protip: Bring sunscreen and umbrella and wear socks! I got a very bad sun burn on my arms and feet right through the holes my Keen sandals after being in the boat all day.
On the way to the first stop…
Our first stop was a town with a large pagoda and a market. Unfortunately, I’m not 100% sure of the name of the town, but I think it could have been Ywama based on a map I have from that day. Ywama is known for it’s floating market and while we didn’t see a lot of sellers on boats, but there was a good sized market on dry land.
On the way to the next stop, In Dien with its golden pagoda on a hill….
This cat was a badass who had no fear of the dogs below.
There were dogs all over the pagoda, including these cute puppies.
Back in the village…
When we got back to the boat, we couldn’t find the driver. We waited for a few minutes and then back tracked a bit until we found him playing pool in a local bar. It looked like he might have had some money on it and was hesitant to leave so we waited for him to finish of course. He lost, but handled it well.
On the way to lunch…
The next stop was Inthar Heritage House, part hotel, part restaurant, part purebred Burmese cat breeder. I’m not ashamed, we came to see the cats. Lunch was secondary, but actually the food was very good, better than at our hotel.
The restaurant is in the original antique teak house on the property, seen below. There’s a nice view from the terrace of rice fields.
The food, all Burmese, was well prepared and beautifully presented. We had Shan noodles, a meat curry with rice, and my favorite, tea leaf salad. Tea leaf salad is a popular Burmese dish, made with fermented tea leaves, assorted beans and peas, tomato, herbs, and peanuts.
The story of the cats: from what I’d read before we visited, the owner of the property wanted to bring pure bread Burmese cats back to Burma, but could not find any in the country and had to import them (some say purchased at Harrods’s of London). The cats are friendly, and now there are a lot of them in there, but to be honest, I have no idea where they are going with the project.
On the way to the next stop…
Our final stop was at the most famous pagoda in the area, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. The pagoda houses five sacred Buddha statues which are covered in gold leaf. Once a year, during a festival, four of the statues are removed and places on a replica of the royal barge and taken out on the lake to visit all the villages around the lake.
Going back to the hotel…