20.01 Inle Lake 1, Sunrise at Shwesandaw pagoda, canoe excursion along canals
Before leaving Bagan we made another pre-breakfast excursion, this time to Shwesandaw, one of the best known pagodas. Since the weather was much better than it had been on the previous days we could take good photos of the sun rising above the mist between the many spires of the stupas.
Although the flight from Bagan to Heho was delayed by an hour and a half we still arrived at Inle Lake by lunchtime. The road from Heho rises to about 1250m but the lake is slightly less than 1000m above sea level.
Captivating its visitors with picture-perfect sights, the Inle Lake region is a refreshing change to the historical attractions of Bagan and Mandalay. It contains the picturesque Inle Lake, the fascinating Pindaya caves and the cool and colourful hill towns of Taunggyi and Kalaw. The Manawthukha hotel in the village of Nyaungshwe where we were staying was not a luxury resort as in Bagan, but we did not spend much time in it anyway. The staff were again very helpful and friendly.
For the first afternoon a canoe / punt trip along canals between the village and the lake was planned. These were propelled by women paddling or punting sometimes standing up, two of whom had a child in the boat with them. We were 2 or 3 in each canoe sitting on thin cushions directly on the bottom of the boat. This position is not very comfortable for more than 2 hours, so my boat mate and I spent part of the time lying flat along the length of the boat. This was very relaxing as we drifted slowly along the quite canals, disturbed only by the quacking of ducks and the odd water buffalo herd swimming by. These had of course to be photographed, especially the herdsman or boy riding on the back of the last buffalo.