- Encounters with locals
Nyaung Shwe is a small village that serves as the starting point for tourists who want to visit Inle Lake during their trip to Burma. I spent three days there, which was enough to thoroughly explore the village.
The local inhabitants are easy to meet, and they'll be delighted to talk to you! I had a large range of local restaurants, massage salons and activities to choose from because the village is very (perhaps too?) touristy.
During my few days in Nyaung Shwe I went for cycle rides and hiked in the surrounding area, and I also discovered a French vineyard, the Red Mountain, where it's possible to sample good wines in breathtaking surroundings ... one of the best times I had there!
It was the lake that made me want to go there. I spent the whole day touring, in a little motor boat, firstly to the market, filled with regional and ethnic products, where drapes, jewelry and lotus silk are made. When our guide realised that we were not planning on buying anything, he steered us towards a collection of temples, where we lost ourselves in a labyrinth of floating gardens.
One thing you need to know about Nyaung Shwe, is that you are going to eat well. I think that this is where I ate the tastiest vegetables in my life. Huge avocados! And sweet too! And to be eaten for breakfast!! Real tomatoes and peanut sauce used to season the dishes. I love food - and I had the time of my life.
And I followed this with a three-day, two-night visit to the east of Inle, where I stayed (and again ate delicious food) at a local resident's home.
The only thing I regret is that I didn't stay longer at Nyaung Shwe. Even a week wouldn't have been enough!
First and foremost, Nyaung Shwe is, and will always be, the departure point of your tour of the Inle Lake. It is easily accessible, whether by bus or plane, and the town is developing at breakneck speed.
That said, if you get the time, rent a bike and explore the quiet little districts, off the beaten track — always a worthwhile experience. From the children who look after the water buffalo, to the female monks going out holding their pink umbrella, to the smiles of those you pass in the street... Yes, such scenes of life may be common all over Burma, but isn't it lovely to do so in a tourist-friendly location? This is truly a trip to enjoy.
If you're a wine connoisseur, there is a nearby wine-growing estate, also accessible by bike.