The boat with the driver I had booked via the hotel was ready by 8am as promised. We made our way to the jetty just behind the hotel.
Joining him as navigator and occasional rower was a lovely lady and her cute son. Perhaps, they were the boatman’s family. Both of them spoke no English except the basic phrases needed for the trip.
I had booked the boat all for myself as I wanted to go through the trip at my own sweet time.
We made our way out of the channel and into the wide expanse of the lake. I ignored the guys on boat waiting by the mouth of the channel ready to strike the iconic “fishing” pose of the Intha. I’d rather give my money to the guys who are actually doing some fishing. This is how the Intha fish nowadays.
It was very cold but not windy. The lake is so wide that even with a hundred boats it doesn’t feel crowded. All that cold plus the cups of hot water I had at breakfast made me want to pee. Fortunately, we were at a channel and nearby was a restaurant that had a toilet!
Back to the boat. Our destination was Intha whose turn it was to have the revolving 5-day market. The way to it is very nice as leafy banks line the channel.
Souvenir stalls line the entire path from the jetty to the village. The items on sale are actually very nice and the sales people aren’t very pushy. The market wasn’t as large nor as busy as I expected it to be. There seemed to be more tourists looking at the souvenir stalls than locals doing some marketing.
Away from the market and to the crumbling stupas of Nyaung Ohak. The ruins are spread on a very small area but still makes for interesting, albeit short, exploration. Up the road to Shwe Inn Thein Paya with its zedi ruins.
A lot of new structures have been built on the name of reconstruction. Looks a bit too colorful for me, though.
Made my way back to the main street via the long covered walkway lined with more souvenir stalls. Bought some flutes from this guy.
Spent close to 2 hours at Inthein. The ruins are really nice to wander around and the souvenir stalls make for interesting browsing. Lots and lots of curious including music instruments.
We stopped at one of the restaurants by the channel called Blue Sky. Ordered a vegetable fried rice which was quite bland.
Next stop was Phaung Oo Dawa Paya, a large temple which houses four important buddhas who have been transformed into amorphous blobs by the thickness of the gold leaf applied to them through the decades. It took a while before I got out as I had forgotten I had left my shoes by the complex’s entrance and not at the paya’s which I had been circling looking for them.
We made our way to the Floating Gardens which were patches of uhhmm.. gardens. The boat’s motor died twice here maybe because it was getting caught in the water lilies or weeds. From there, it was a short trip to the Jumping Cat Monastery. No cats were jumping, however. The buddhas were very interesting as they had features that are very unique to Shan style.
Look at this one looking so magnificent.
This one even more.
This reclining buddha is surrounded by adoring figures which is a feature you don’t normally see in buddhas such as those found in Thailand.
Even more interesting is this group of figures. See the one lying prostate?
The monastery is very spacious and true to Shan style, had numerous teak posts— 600 to be exact!
Another Shan feature is that the buddha shrines are at the center.
I don’t know of these people are just having snack of nuts and tea or paying their respects to the monk on a chair.
These ones were definitely venerating the buddha.
It was past 3:30 when I left the monastery and took the boat back to Ngyaungshwe. I noticed many boats going the opposite direction. Maybe there’s sunset viewing? Or perhaps they spent the day at the town and were making their way back to their accommodations at the lake.