A quiet oasis and really off the beaten track since it is a 2hour boat trip from Nampan. You will be amazed and entertained with the passing scenery n needs loads of memory chips as you'll hardly put down your camera. I thought I could have a snooze going there but not likely ! You'll pass sugarcane plantations, Bamboo forests where you'll see the locals cutting n stripping them to build their houses or loading them onto the boats to elsewhere. etc. Most of the Inle houses n some of the hotels use Bamboo as not everyone can afford the expensive teak owned by the generals. Glimpses of livestock - Bullocks, pigs, oxen n their owners/ herders enjoy wadding in the lake.
Sliding into the landing for Sankar was surreal, seeing the ancient stupas some lying on the water, some with planrs growing. We passed some villagers driving(Ben Hur Style) oxen cart loaded with wood to transport by boat to the markets/villages nearby. No shops or tourists, we visited the village nursery and the children were a delight, very shy n curious to meet us. I asked our guide via mt travel agent to get us US$50 worth of books n stationery beforehand as we rather give to the teachers to hand out as n when needed. we gave some books n stationery to passing school kids(they wear green loungyi/(sarongs). Imagine a 8-10 year old not knowing what a box of colour pencils is. ?
They have a hospital but not in use due to lack of funds n supplies of medicines n bandages.
All this we had to ask our Pao guide "why the building is new but not used ?" We were humbled that even they had so little they were so happy and not at all pushy . When we asked if we could bring medicines etc next time we come. "all help is welcome if you can spare !".
The whole area of Sankar's ancient temples n vistas of the numerous pagodas are a sight to behold, and the people there are enlightening and magical. I felt refreshed totally !! Trustees of the temples asking you to pls take a cup of hot greentea which he poured from his Themos flask, the shy kids and curious toddlers and patient n grateful teachers/carers. we didn't bring any candy for the kids so I worry about dental care there. They didn't ask for any !!! This is why I keep coming back to Inle now we will surely make a return trip to Sankar in the near future.
. When you start early in the morning (we started @ 9.30 because of our UK friend's lateness)from Inle Resort >Nampan to pick up our Pao guide for Sankar Pls ask your guide to ask the boatmen to bring blankets as the ride can get quite chilly in the oped motor boat n sometimes misty. Our Inle guide was well wrapped up- you can onle see her face !
We spent 2 nites in Inle and the highlight of our week long Burma trip was Sankar !
Pindaya is situated at 1164-m above sea level and is 40-km from Kalaw. It is noted for its extensive limestone caves and Shwe U Min Paya which is full of Buddha images and picturesque Boutaloke Lake.
The town's symbol is a spider. According to the legend, seven princesses bathing in the lake took refuge in the cave during a storm where they were imprisoned by a giant spider. As shown by a large statue by the entrance, this spider must have later on been killed by a noble prince.
You casn enter the caves by using stairs and an elevator (chic!) but as soon as you reach the upper platform you can enjoy wonderful views of the surrounding area.
I can't recommend using public transport from Heho airport or Aungban or Kalaw cities to get to Pindaya. As mentioned in my LP guidebook it might be tiring and difficult to find good connections. I had prearranged the trip through my travel agency by private car and I can tell you even that takes long as the road is in a bad condition. For 50km it takes about 2 hours and from Inle lake around 3hrs!!
The scenery is nice and you have some views of local rural life. As soon as you approach the Pindaya town, you have a lovely ride around the lake and nice views of the surrounding hills housing the caves.
The Pindaya caves are in limestone ridge overlooking the Pindaya lake and is full of thousands of Buddha images made from various materials (alabaster, teak, marble, brick, lacquer and cement) which have been put there over centuries and arranged in such a way as to form a labyrinth throughout the various cave chambers. In these caves, you may come across lay people practicing meditation. Surprisingly enough all images are covered in gold leafs and red color over the material each statue is made of off. This might seem sad for a foreigner (loosing the charm) but it is a form of respect from locals who show it by giving offers by covering a whole statue with gold. Under illumination they sparkle!!
The caves themselves present some stalagmites and stalactites.
Few people do trekking in the hills surrounding Inle Lake.
I agree that compared to Kalaw , Inle trekking doesn't offer that much but still.
At some points the nature is really impressive and when you get the panoramic view of Inle Lake on top of a hill its worth the effort.
We paid 12$ for us 2, you have to pay 4000 Kyat for the boat back to Nyaungshwe.
This is a hidden treasure of unusual mangnificent collections of stupas. In a small area about 1 quare kilometre lies nearly 2500 Buddhists stupas alligned in a parallel rows closely packed together in ranks.
We hired a taxi there and it's one whole day trip from Inle lake.
The road going there is not very good but very scenic.
Found the village very nice and asked the driver to bring us in. They were having a family get together and smilingly took us as memebers that atfternoon.
They don't speak Burmese but another dialect.
If you have the time I feel the village of Indein is well worth a visit! It is about 5 Kms from Ywama accessed by a small river. I was charged an extra 1000 Kyat for the excursion which was worth it to me. We had a wonderful 2 hours there. The 400 Pagodas are very magical. When I was there with my son there wasn't anyone else around so we had a special experience walking amongst the old ruins.
You can read more about our fun on my Indein page.
inle lake isn't just water. there's a bamboo market, where the locals come to buy and sell all sorts including bamboo. bamboo is an essential item at the lake as all the houses and areas where crops are grown are supported by bamboo poles.
with my bike 1 gear I wanted to make a trip around the lake. Ofter hours later and night coming soon I figured out that there was no way to make the trip in one day. So I ended up in finding a fishermen who took me back.
We actually borrowed from the Golden Island Cottage some script of report done by French scientists after studying there for some days as our guide book.
It's great watching the sun go down while riding in the canals. I stood up the in shakey canoe to take this picture. (Be careful if you're not used to canoes it can be very easy to go for a swim)
Inle lake. Most people head straight for bagan. Try to take time out and spend a couple of days here.
i thought this view could've been painted by constable, in england, 200 years ago. this place really is a trip back in time. but no - it's inle lake.
then of course there are the monks. i've never seen so many monks as i saw in myanmar. gosh they were everywhere.