Monday, February 4, 2013

Inle Lake, Myanmar

Amber:  We arrived in Nyaungshwe, the little township up river from Inle Lake, mid afternoon.  Our guide, Sommya, lead us to our guest house and we sadly said goodbye to her, Joe (our cook) and our cook's apprentice (whom was never introduced to us).  After getting settled into our hotel, we walked through town until we found a place that made Western food.  Our three day trek had served us delicious traditional Burmese style food, but we were all really craving grilled cheese and tomato soup.  We found a little sandwich shop that sold crepes and sandwiches and stuffed ourselves on avocado, tomato, cheese, egg sandwiches, french fries, and an avocado salad.  Nyangshwe is considered the backpackers hub in Myanmar.  While an avocado salad is part of their traditional food, someone had told them how to make guacamole, and it was served everywhere!  Tim was in heaven.

The next day, we went in search of Red Mountain Estate for some wine tasting. The winery was founded a few years ago, uses French and Spanish grapes, and while it was founded by a German, it has a French wine maker.  It has over 13 different types of wine.  It was a bit out of town, so we hired a tuk tuk for the day.  The winery was set up on a beautiful hillside.  We all their wine sampler, trying a Sauvignon Blanc, a Rose, a Shraz Tempernillo, and a Late Harvest.  Their Chardonnay was their best wine, so we had a small sample of that as well.  The four of us honestly were doing it for the novelty, not expecting the wine to actually be good.  We were pleasantly surprised. The wine was amazing!  The hot days, cool nights, and soil around Inle Lake did wonders. After the tasting, Justin, Ciara, Tim and I moved outside to a little table looking out over the vineyards and Inle Lake and had a couple more glasses of wine while we contemplated life and enjoyed the sunshine.  So, two glasses of wine, and a wine sampler per person.  What a great experience!  Our tab totaled $10 each.

We had finished our trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake with a boat ride up Inle Lake and had gotten to enjoy the flat calm water, the pretty scenery, and even saw a few of the fishermen Inle Lake is famous for.  The fisherman have developed a unique style of paddling, wrapping a long paddle down their leg and around their ankle. Thus, paddling hands free as they checked their nets for fish.  It is really cool to watch. Justin is a professional photographer (he even guides for Natural Habitat!), so he was especially excited to get back out on the lake to get some photos.  The four of us rented a motorized long boat for the day, put on a ton of sunscreen, bought billed caps for the glare on the water, and headed out. It was a beautiful, sunny, flat calm day.  We all got some pretty cool pictures.

 Our boat captain took us along the lake, and then into some of the little villages that were built on stilts around the lake.  It was fun.  They have a bunch of 'floating' gardens, where tomatoes, squash, flowers, etc are grown on stilts above the lake.  The plant is rooted in the water, then wound around a supportive network of bamboo lattice work.  The produce was huge, so the soil must be very feral and there obviously was no shortage of water!

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