Nyaungshwe - Inle Lake

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The town itself is not particularly attractive but it had, and I hope still has a great frontier vibe, possibly as near as you get to a backpacker have in Myanmar.   In 2002 the Inle Pancake Kingdom was not just the only place to send and receive Email in Nyaungshwe but the only place in the whole country to do it openly, great pancakes too

Rush Hour at the Bridge

Original Golden Kite

Rent a boat and guide by the bridge

Mirrored stupa also by the bridge

Chow and Thida cooking up a storm in 2002

 The speciality of the house was spaghetti Bolognese.  Myo acquired a pasta maker and recipe from a from a visitor from Bologna and the rest is history.  The restaurant is busy all day but packed in the evening with travellers looking for a change of cuisine

The years have been kind to the hardworking family and this was the kitchen of the restaurant in 2005

I think there are now three,  one of which is  a large pavilion out in the lake, I wonder if they are still owned and run by Myo and his sisters

View Point Bungalows 2005

View From Our Balcony

There is a daily market behind the main street but Nyaungshwe is also part of the 5 day rotating market.  Although it is said to have a 5 day schedule there is also a lunar component which makes it difficult to plan ahead

Nyaungshwe Market

  When it is Nyaungshwe's turn to host the 5 day market the canals are clogged with Shan, Inthe and Pa O vendors bringing their produce from around the lake.   Tomatoes account for 2/3rds of the regions agriculture and are famous throughout Myanmar.  The locals all seem to know where the rotating market will be on any given day,  The good news is, whatever day you visit there will be an interesting market somewhere.   The more rustic village markets get very busy, as always start out early
On  our first morning walk, I was reminded that the Lonely Planet describes Inle Lake as 'outrageously beautiful' and so it is
 
 The Inthe build their homes on stilts over the water.   Using gourds as water wings, their children can swim before they can walk.  Passing by in 2005 I was sad to see this home derelict and abandoned

 

We passed a fish hatchery, watched numerous water buffalo facing off,  a snake chase a frog, the frog won, chatted to many small children and generally watched people going about their business       
We also visited the tiny perfect Ywa Thit  Monastery with the hospitable Abbot U Kon De La.  What a lovely way to spend a morning

 

Padaung
The Padaung are a sub section of the Karen tribe, some wear many brass rings, effectively elongating their necks.  Traditionally the rings were fitted when a girl was between six and nine years of age.  Only girls born on Wednesday of a full moon were eligible and the date for the ritual would be set by the village shaman.  Having read of Pascal Khoo Thwe's  idyllic childhood in the memoir "From The Land of Green Ghosts, I very much wanted to visit a Padaung village along the Thai border.  Having heard of a family who live in Nyanugshwe and welcome visitors, I determined to seek them out

The reality was very different, the women looked most unhappy as they gestured to us to take photos.  I no longer wanted to but it was obviously expected.  There was no way to communicate with these women.   Of the $3 per head we paid to the men at the entrance to the compound, they only received $1 between them.  All in all we contributed to their exploitation         

 

The Rings

It is not sure why this was done originally.  Some suggest it protects the neck from tiger bites, others that it has religious significance or that it makes the women unattractive to other men and difficult for them to run away

 The neck was rubbed with ointment said to contain dog fat, coconut milk and royal jelly then massaged for several hours.   A small cushion was fitted under the first ring to prevent chaffing and later removed

 Successive rings were added every two years until she married.  The rings can weigh up to 20 lbs and reach 12 inches in height.  The neck is not really extended, rather the clavicle is pushed down giving the illusion of an extremely long neck

 

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