Nyaung Shwe / Yaunghwe, a former Shan capital on Inlay Lake also spelled Inle Lake, is the leading and oldest city out of a total of about 200 Intha settlements and other tribes living around the lake. It is located on the northeast shore of the lake at the edge of the ubiquitous Eichhornia crassipes, commonly known as the water hyacinth that surrounds the lake in a wide band of up to 3 miles / 5 kilometers wide. These water chains contribute significantly to the disappearance of the lake at a rate that suggests that the lake will no longer exist in about 150 years now, unless something is done about it.
Nyaung Shwe is the so-called & # 39; entrance gate & # 39; at Inlay Lake for visitors arriving from Heho Airport. Sao Shwe Htaik, the last of a group of 36 Shan princes in total – called & # 39; Sawbaws & # 39; (title for an inherited prince) lived here until 1948 in a magnificent tekke building that is now a museum. He became Burma's first president on January 04, 1948 and served until 1952.
36 The Sawbaws met regularly during the British colonial era in parliament in Taunggyi to discuss and decide on issues concerning their Shan people.
The city is a quiet and pleasant place to stay, but there are some more or less interesting ruins around it, & # 39; Yatamamanaungsu Pagoda & # 39; near its center that houses & # 39; you'll be sick & # 39; and & # 39; you'll be old & # 39; figures in glass showcases as well as the famous Nyaung Shwe Wooden Monastery have nothing to offer to tourists. More about where you can sleep, eat and start your excursions on and around the lake from.
From Nyaung Shwe's regular boat services, boat boats at their hotels on the lake and can board boats or canoes either with or without engines to discover the lake and Intha communities living here. And that's what I'm going to do now. I'll embark on my & # 39; my lake trip & # 39; and & # 39; my port of call & # 39; today is the Monastery By Phe Chaung.
The monastery is located on Inlay Lake and is an attractive wooden monastery built on lakes above the lake in the late 1850s. Arriving at the ancient monastery requires a boat ride of about 1 hour. You are cordially invited to accompany me.
On the way to Nga Phe Chaung Monastery, our narrow but long canoe – which, in turn, was built in Nam Pan a village on the east bank of the lake south of Nyaung Shwe – is skillfully sailing through the hyacinth of interrupted water directed by his "captain" Intha. He is also a fisherman, raised here and knows everyone and everything in and around the lake. You can go to the Phe Chaung Monastery and any other place on and around the lake also by motorized boat / canoe. This goes much faster and you won't need to change the boat, but you'll miss out on witnessing in the near distance the extremely unique style in which Intha fishermen push their canoes through the water. Stupid style The famous one-legged canoe style is well-known to be described in detail.
Our captain (wearing a conical straw hat called & # 39; Khamout & # 39; which is typical of Inlay Lake) is keeping his eyes open to avoid beneath floating surface mattresses or clumps of weeds. He is standing erect on one leg – the left – on the strict side of our canoe (a balancing act which is an action of itself) while he has his right foot twisted around a long oak, having a firm hand on the bottom (about the level of his shoulder) and holding it firmly between the calf and knee of this leg. He then tilts his body forward and pushes the calf fur and knee back, a movement that pushes the canoe forward. Next he ties the leg of his right foot now fully extended around the oak to pull it back in and the process begins again. Seemingly effortless he is doing all this in a smooth, sliding motion, which is an appealing sight. But to achieve all that he is – while holding an almost creepy expression on his face – smoking a carrot (a Burmese cigar), which he holds in his left hand; really amazing. I fear that my brief description may not be enough for you to form an accurate and real picture of life in front of your mind's eye. One really needs to see it. , Is, again, amazing. So for at least a few feet of your lake trip you have to go by boat as this is an experience that is unlikely to be forgotten.
The Intha have developed this fascinating and unique style of rowing along with their equally amazing and unique fishing method. They do this with a tapered, very long dinner (almost as long as most fishermen themselves) with a bamboo reed fish trap that is round and open at the base, culminating and enclosed at the top and containing a grill mesh. Whenever you are at the lake, you can see fishermen sometimes forming a line or semicircle with their canoes and sometimes just at work. While trapping the fish they are swimming and looking for movement beneath the surface of the water indicating the presence of the fish (what could be a long, thick eel or a large carp, a meter or more long), after which they trap – the bottom open and raised up – over the place where the fish is / are down on the lake floor and the fish is / trapped and sure to end up through the pan or pot like a delicious dish on someone (maybe your stomach).
As we leave Nyaung Shwe, we also see many huge Kyunpaws'. These are floating gardens or farms where flowers and all kinds of agriculture produce like tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, potatoes, beans and pulses, eggplants, you name it, grown and harvested all year round by Intha. These Kyunpaws are made from piles of weeds that fishermen need to plan a trail through. These clumps of weeds are separated from their roots by simply cutting them off. They are then crushed and bonded together with large mattresses so that they can finally form an artificial island up to about 3 meters / 1 meter thick, which can be moved and held in place by the rods. bamboo, traversing the lake floor.
Crop production cultivated in these floating gardens or farms – though sometimes lacking in the aroma of often grown fruits and vegetables in the fertile soil – is sold not only in local markets in and around the lake, but also in large quantities distributed in the regions and other cities. For example, up to 80 tonnes of tomatoes / day can be harvested here, which explains why many (most?) Of the tomatoes consumed in Burma are really tomatoes.
Across the lake you can see fishermen and floating farms as fishing and farming are the main sources of income for people living in, on and around the lake. Other sources of income are e.g. production of clothes, shoulder bags, cherries, pottery, umbrellas, etc. An additional rapid source of revenue growth are local, as well as foreign visitors to Lake Inlay and areas of its immediate and wider suburbs.
Nearly every village around the lake specializes in other business such as boat building, cherry making, silk and cotton weaving and pottery.
We have now arrived at the Phe Chaung Monastery also known as the & # 39; Cat Rattan Monastery.
The Phe Chaung Monastery is located on Lake Inlay. It is an attractive wooden monastery built on lakes above the lake in the late 1850s. Arriving at the ancient monastery takes about a 1 hour boat ride. & # 39; The riparian side & # 39; of the monastery is not so impressive.
The monastery is known for home to a large collection of old Buddha images of Buddha from various sizes, materials and areas worth seeing. By Phe Chaung is the largest monastery here. It was built in teak stables in traditional timber architecture and at the time of this writing an era of about 170 years the oldest monastery on Lake Inle.
This monastery is definitely worth a visit not only for its historical significance and architecture, but also for its numerous and famous cats. Some of them have been trained by monks to dance on rocks provided you somehow convince cats that the best thing they can do is follow your order; and other cats? Well – as you can see – they're sleeping.
All right, now I'll be back to my hotel in Nyaung Shwe. Tomorrow I will go to Khaung Daing village famous for its pottery.