19 Jan – Lake & Overnight bus

Things had quietened down so we finally took our lake tour, the reason we had travelled to Nyaungshwe in the first place (we only knew of the vineyard when we arrived). First stop was a fascinating local market where we watched a mobile blacksmith mend locals farming tools.

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Then we passed through floating gardens where the locals grow tomatoes, cauliflowers, watercress, beans and cucumbers.

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Next was a textile factory, then a silversmith and a cheroot factory before a pagoda and a monastery where cats jump through hoops. The cats were unfortunately on a break when we arrived.

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The trip was a bit craft market heavy but passing through the villages was fascinating.

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Back at the hotel we patiently waited for our overnight bus to Rangoon. We left at 7pm with an estimated arrival of 7am. We were both tired from extensive bathroom visits the day before and a little nervous of the extended time without a nearby toilet. The staff of the hotel came out to wave us off and we thanked them for the rehydration salts and ginger tea they had fed us with no charge.

15 January – all day on a bus…..

You know when you are told your bus will arrive at 2.30 or 3pm at your destination, no problem. However, due to past experiences you are both a little sceptical and are putting bets on will we arrive at 4.10 or 4.30, so when you rock up at 5.30 after an unscheduled stoppage/breakdown, neither of you are surprised. Although as I chose 4.30 I did technically win that bet.
The breakdown was exciting, lots of Burmese men under and seemingly in the engine of the bus, lots of European men mumbling and muttering about carburetors and brake parts…….
Arrival at inle lake was greeted with the usual government official telling us we had to buy a ticket, in dollars. Then tens of taxi and rickshaw drivers asking if we wanted a ride, a rickshaw driver volunteered to cycle us and our luggage to our hotel, he didn’t look the cyclist type – no bulging thighs / calves – but he managed to get us to the hotel on a ramshacked old bike with no sweating or wheezing.
Our hotel was fabulous, massive room, bamboo decoration and it had a fridge in the room!! As we had just found out that the beer we had been drinking, Myanmar beer, was funded by the government we decided to do a taste test of the rest of the local brews, and some Thai ones!
We had a meal in a local place, which I don’t think had many tourists as they gave us free fruit, canapes(!), tomato salad, and thought it hilarious when we wanted to try the local whisky and rum, which we had shots of in half pint glasses for 30p each!
We slept well that night in our massive room with massive bed.

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