In Part 1 of my blog post regarding our Inle Lake Boat Tour, I’ve shown you the beautiful lake with skillful Intha fishermen and the rotating market. We continued with the tour and visited a couple of temples.
After we finished our early lunch, our new boatman brought us to the Inthein Village. We were told that the temple there has “many many pagodas and is very nice”. We didn’t really know what we were going to see but decided to go along with the idea.
It was a relatively long drive from the restaurant but along the way, we crossed paths with the locals on boats, zoomed past many little dams and saw the locals, including monks, swimming in the lake.
Upon reaching the Inthein Village, the boatman dropped us off and told us to “walk inside, there (pointing to a certain direction)”. Since he couldn’t really speak English, we reckoned we will just follow any signpost or ask someone along the way. We walked past a kindergarten and an empty piece of land. It wasn’t really empty – there were structures built above the ground which looked like shops. I highly suspect this was one of the rotating markets.
It was noon so it was bright and warm. The road leading to the temple with “many many pagodas and is very nice” was quiet and dusty. We were not sure where we were going as there was no signpost whatsoever so we simply followed some locals. Then we came to a river crossing where there were people doing their laundry, kids swimming and even somebody washing his car (we assume he was!).
After crossing the river, a guy gestured to us which we assumed was the direction towards the temple. This was just the beginning of a long walk up to the temple, which was supposed to be the longest stairway.
Hawkers all lined along the stairway so I guess we were on the right track. However, they were not pushy so we didn’t mind them at all. In fact, they made the long walk less boring because we could browse the things on sale.
I think we walked for at least 15 minutes before we got any nearer to the Shwe Inn Thein (or Shwe Inn Dain) Pagoda or Pagodas Complex. And we saw “many many pagodas” like all the locals said. In fact, there were 1,054 of them as of the inventory of monuments in 1999. However, some had already collapsed whilst others were falling apart.
There was a temple with a Buddha when we finally reached the top. I took off my shoes and walked behind the temple, not sure what to expect, and I saw these:
It was gorgeous! There were so many pagodas that the whole ground looked like a maze.
The pagodas dated all the way back to the 11th – 18th centuries when Myanmar’s King Thiri Dharmmasoka first founded the Shwe Inn Thein Pagoda in 273 – 232 B.C. The Myanmar’s Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, the regional authorities and the Shwe Inn Dain pagoda trustee have been preserving, conserving and renovating the cultural heritage pagodas since 2006.
It was not crowded when we were there and we almost had the whole place to ourselves. We could take our time to admire the different types of traditional architecture and carvings.
HOWEVER, the afternoon sun was shining strongly on the bare concrete floor intensely. I was unable to hang around for too long in my bare feet, had to skip and hop into the shade. But as we descended the long stairway (with our shoes on), we saw some pagodas lining along the sides with their respective donors’ name and the country they were from. We even saw some donors who hailed from Malaysia!
Jumping Cat Monastery
Last stop of Inle Lake Boat Tour – Jumping Cat Monastery
Even though the cats were no longer jumping (because the monk who taught them how to jump passed away few years ago), we thought we would check out the monastery. However, it was quite disappointing because there seem to be nothing special about this monastery other than the LV posters we found on the pillars 🙂
Outside the monastery shops were selling t-shirts, hats, etc., touristy stuff. But I saw someone selling some local snacks and decided to take a risk (of getting stomachache) and try.
This was made of flour with chives wrapped in banana leaves, steamed. It was bland on its own but after we added some garlic and light sauce (I think it was fish sauce or soy sauce), the ball was delicious! A Dutch lady saw us eating it and decided to try too.
On our way back to Nyaungshwe, we got to enjoy the vast lake again which was a great way to end the boat tour on the Inle Lake.
For anyone visiting Myanmar, a trip to Inle Lake or indeed an Inle Lake boat tour is definitely a must-do to enjoy the stunning views of the landscape and take a peek into how the locals live. As mentioned in my previous post, the boat tour cost us 16,000 Kyats (about US$15); so if you can find 4 or even 5 people to share 1 boat, this will no doubt be a very inexpensive way to spend your day.
Tip: Bring along a scarf or light jacket if you are going for the sunrise boat trip, it gets chilly especially if you are sitting right in front.
Check out what else we were up to around the Inle Lake here!