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Trip Report Myanmar New Year Trip Report

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My family and I had had a fantastic time in Myanmar for the New Year holiday and I would like to thank all that had posted trip reports about Myanmar and to those that help answered some of our questions on this board. I’m not use to writing a trip report so I hope you’ll find the information useful.

Bangkok to Yangon by Air Asia - no delay: We landed at the new terminal of Yangon International airport and had to carry our luggage about 300 – 400 meters to the old airport for our domestic flight to He Ho. Here we experienced the dreaded porters who tried to take advantage of all the tourists by offering useless services and demanding a tip. Apart from the porters the airline staff, especially those that handle the luggage all demanded tips for what I deem as part of their duty.

Yangon to He Ho (Inle Lake) by Air Mandalay – 1 & ½ hour delay: Yangon domestic airport was a dump and over 500 passengers had crammed into a small, old and dirty departure room. Since no information was offered by the ground staff as to new departure time no body dare to leave. The flight itself was good and took only 1 hour and 20 minutes in a twin turbo prop.

He Ho to Inle Princess Resort: We were met by a rep of the resort who directed us to our waiting taxi. The drive, on possibly one of the worst road on the earth, lasted about 1 hour but at least the scenery along the way was beautiful. At the pier in Nyaung Shwe we were met by the resort boat which took us through some beautiful canals with clean clear water before arriving at the Inle Princess Resort.

Inle Princess Resort: Upon arrival we were greeted with cold towels and some fruit juices and were escorted to our Mountain View Chalet. We did try to get a better room but “luckily” none were available. The “Mountain View” chalets only differ from the “Lake View” chalets by being angled away from the fronting canal - this resort was not directly on the lake but was situated on a rather wide canal. A few of the lake view chalets had an outdoor shower and bath but that would have been a bad choice in winter since it was so cold! Our chalet was basic but well equipped with all the needed amenities. At night the mosquito net were draped around our bed where fresh flower petals were placed and hot water bottles were put in between the sheets. The manager and the owner seek us out to personally greet us and they were both very nice.

We spent the afternoon exploring around the resort and made use of the complimentary mountain bikes and canoes to visit a nearby village that was only meters away from the back entrance of the Inle Princess. The village reminded us, my wife and I, of Thailand many, many years ago and we had a wonderful time reminiscing of bygone days. Our teenage daughter got to experience what it was like in the past and we got to explain and show her how things use to be. The people were very friendly and had very sincere smiles on their faces – so much different from the hassle of our airport experiences. We were welcome in their houses, workshops and backyards and the villagers seem to enjoy us as much as we enjoyed them.

We return to the resort and had a drink at the main lodge where we watched a beautiful sunset. The temperature dived after sunset from a very pleasant 20C to about 6C before dawn. We had dinner at the resort since it was very dark and cold outside and we did not feel like venturing out on the lake in such condition. The food was acceptable but not great and this was the trend for our entire trip – acceptable but not great food! I had brought along some of my favorite wine and champagne and we open our first bottle here. The resort didn’t mind us drinking our own wine and was nice enough not to charge us a corkerage fee. A bottle of Penfold Grange Hermitage perfectly complimented our Shan and Chinese food that we had ordered and afterward we retire to our chalet for the evening.

From midnight onward we were very cold in our room as the thin walls of the chalets did nothing to keep the cold out. We saw a few mosquitoes after sunset but they all disappeared within a few hours after the temperature drop. There was one portable electric heater but that was not enough to keep the room sufficiently warm. By dawn we had to move the heater into the bathroom so that we could do our stuff in there! I got up at around 5.30 am mostly because I was so cold and wanted to move about. It was a very cold foggy morning with limited visibility but the hot coffee and breakfast at the resort was very welcoming. Most of the other guests were from Europe and we all noticed that they were all very cold as well!

Our tour for the day started at 8.00 am where our long tail boat and captain were waiting for us at the pier (arranged by the Resort for $25 per day). We were offered blankets to help keep warm on the boat ride around the lake. The scenery was beautiful especially with the fog and it gave a very surreal feeling to it seeing the fisherman and their boats emerging from the fog as we cruise along the lake to the morning market. As an avid amateur photographer I greatly enjoy taking a lot of photos whilst my wife recorded the moment on our new high definition camcorder. We went from one end of the lake to the other and it took us almost an hour. As we approach the northern shore of the lake the sun started to finally show itself and gradually warm us up. We pass by a village on stilt, didn’t write down the name, and saw many children paddling their boats about. They were all smiling and waving as we pass them giving me a great photo op.

Upon entering the vicinity of the market we had to pass by a flotilla of souvenir selling canoes before we could finally reach the embankment. The market was great and it again reminded us of the old days in Thailand. The people were happy and contented and all sorts of merchandises and food were being sold or exchange. We wandered around and bought some souvenirs as well as trying some of the local food which were quite tasty. We spent about an hour and a half there before we move on to our next destination. I should point out that the various destinations were planned ahead of time by the resort coordinator and the boat captain.

The next three stops for our boats were typical tourist trap kind of places: a cheroot making factory, a silk weaving factory and a silver making factory. We stop by each one and only spent about 5 minutes at each place and the added side benefit was to use the relatively clean and modern toilets at these places. To be fair none of the people at these “factories/shops” try to be overly aggressive in trying to sell their craft but we would rather have skip them all. Lunch was at the Orchid restaurant where our resort had recommended us to go to for the giant river prawns but they didn’t have any! We ended up with a free lunch compliment of the owner of the Inle Princess Resort.

The afternoon touring with our boat started with a trip to the Inn-Dein stupas. This is a must visit site if you staying around Inle! We maneuvered through a relatively narrow creek for about ½ hour before reaching our destination. The scenery along the way was great and you’ll get to see farmers going about their daily routines as well as a few buffalos drinking or bathing in the creek. The Inn-Dein stupas was at the top of a hill and the walk there was quite interesting crossing a few more creeks and a river as well as a covered walkway lined with several souvenir stalls. Walking amongst the ancient stupas as well as the view from the top of the hill was spectacular and I highly recommend it.

After that the captain took us around the various floating farms around the lake and the final stop was at the “Jumping Cat Temple”. Truly a waste of time unless you find it exciting to watch a few cats jump through a hoop. We return to the Inle Princess in time to watch another spectacular sunset. Dinner was again at the resort. The next day after breakfast we left the resort a little early to explore some very old temples along the way back to He Ho airport for our flight to Mandalay.

* I was able to use my Thai registered GSM phone around Inle!
** Best exchange rate that we got was 1,260 Kyat to the dollar.

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