Burma, Myanmar

Adventures through Myanmar: Part 2 – Inle Lake to Mount Kyaiktiyo

And so our trip continues!
From Bagan we decided to go to Inle Lake as the heat was beginning to get to us. We were going to just spend a day out on the lake and move on however we got a really nice hotel room (compared to what we had been getting) and the atmosphere there was really nice, so we decided to stay an extra day. We hired some pushbikes and rode around the countryside for a day before taking a boat trip out onto the lake on our second day to see the various different villages and their wares. We visited silversmiths, weavers, cigar makers, boat builders, long-neck women, floating gardens, a jumping cat monastery (where the cats wouldn’t jump…) and a few pagodas. Overall it was a nice relaxing day and we didn’t get too sunburnt 😛 

 

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A fisherman – the fisherman here row with their leg whilst fishing to keep the boat balanced and moving
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One of the canals we went down in our boat

From Inle Lake we went up to Mandalay where we spent a day exploring Mandalay Palace and Mandalay Hill before walking around the Jade Market and the surrounding streets. We walked about 10kms that day and were completely exhausted! However on our walk we had gone via the Moustache Brothers and bought a ticket to see their a-nyeint show that night.

 

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Mandalay Hill, taken from the bridge you cross to enter Mandalay Palace
A-nyeint is a “form of vaudeville folk opera with dance, music, jokes and silly walks” according to lonely planet, and the Moustache Brothers were an a-nyeint troupe (now a duo as Par Par Lay passed away in 2013) that became famous due to their anti-government jokes in the 1990s. These jokes got Lu Zaw and Par Par Lay arrested in 1996 and sentenced to 7 years hard labour. After they were released in 2002 they began showing the world what had been and was happening in Burma, including by meeting with international celebrities and filming various informative videos (including with Will Ferrel, Sylvester Stallone, Woody Harrelson, Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Anniston). These videos were shown to us at the beginning of the show and were quite eye opening! After watching the videos, the actual show lasted around an hour and included plenty of dancing, music and tons of jokes. It was really good, both cheeky and educational, and Lu Zaw’s personality is so infectious that we couldn’t help but go home laughing.

 

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One of the old photos on the wall of the Moustache Brothers performance area. They always had “secret” government spies at their performances!
After our day in Mandalay we discovered that there isn’t much to see there, so we decided to venture up to Pyin Oo Lwin the next day. After a 2 hour long share taxi we had some lunch then took a horse and cart ride around some old impressive colonial buildings (Pyin Oo Lwin used to be a British hill station) before walking around the botanical gardens. The highlight of the gardens was definitely the aviary which included some very large and beautiful birds. I swear they had an Australian sulphur-crested cockatoo in there too! We also came across a large group of young monks who all wanted their picture taken with us, so we decided to get pictures with them on our camera too which was fun.

 

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One of the beautiful birds in the aviary eating a tomato
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Some of the monks that asked for our photo

From Pyin Oo Lwin we gunned it straight down the new Yangon to Mandalay expressway for 11 hours back to Yangon before staying the night then catching a bus to Mt Kyaiktiyo to see the Golden Rock. This rock is precariously balanced on top of another rock on the side of a mountain – legend states that the rock manages to balance the way it has due to a perfectly placed Buddha hair inside of the stupa that sits on top of it. I’ll admit it was quite impressive and it made for some quite nice photos! However, the truck ride to the rock from the town below was definitely the most memorable part of the day. These trucks have 5 slightly padded wooden bench seats in the tray on which they manage to squish 6 people per row (and I mean squish!). It was uncomfortable, windy and I’m pretty sure the truck managed to drift a couple of the tight corners however we’re alive so it’s all good – one of those things you look back on and think was fun, however it was just scary and painful at the time!

 

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The Golden Rock
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The trucks that took us up to the Golden Rock – it was really hard to get a decent photo so this is the best we have!
After Mt Kyaiktiyo we kept heading east, on a quite uncomfortable form of transport… Part 3 is coming soon!
Thanks for reading!
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