Nyaung Shwe / Yaunghwe, the former capital of Shan on Inlay Lake, also wrote Inle Lake, is the capital and oldest one of a total of about 200 Intha settlements and other tribes living around the lake. Located on a lake on the northeast shore at the edge of the ubiquitous Eichhornia Rivers, commonly known as the water whirl that surrounds the lake in a wide band up to 3 miles / 5 kilometers wide from now on unless something is done about it.
Nyaung Shwe is so called. Gateway & # 39; to Inlay Lake for visitors arriving from Heho Airport. Sao Shwe Htaik, the last of a group of 36 Shan princes – called "Sawbaws" # 39; (title for hereditary prince) lived here until 1948 in a large teak building that is now a museum. He became the first President of Burma on January 4, 1948 and served until 1952.
36 The Sawbaws met regularly during the British colonial era in the Taunggyi Parliament to discuss and decide issues concerning their Shan people.
The city is a quiet and comfortable place to stay, but apart from some more or less interesting ruins, the Yatamamanaungsu & # 39; near his center where the house is, you'll be sick & # 39; and & # 39; you'll be old & # 39; figures in glass cabinets, as well as the famous wooden Nyaung Shwe monastery for tourists, has nothing. It's more of a place to sleep, eat and start your excursions to and around the lake.
From Nyaung Shwe, regular shuttle buses take guests to their hotels on the lake, and they can also board boats or canoes 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 lake trip & # 39; and my port today calls & # 39; is the Nga Phe Chaung Monastery.
The monastery is located in Inlay Lake and is an attractive wooden monastery built on crutches over the lake in the late 1850s. It takes about an hour by boat to reach the ancient monastery. You are cordially invited to accompany me.
On the way to Nga Phe Chaung Monastery, our narrow but long canoe – which, by the way, was built in Nam Pan, a village on the lake, on the east shore of the lake, south of Nyaung Shwe – is skillfully navigated through a tangled water hyacinth governed by its international Captain Intha. He is also a fisherman, raised here and knows everything in and around the lake. You can go by motor boat / canoe to the Nga Phe Chaung Monastery and any other place on and around the lake. It goes much faster and you won't have to change the boat, but you will miss witnessing the proximity of a very special style where Intha anglers run their canoes through the water. It's a famous one-foot style of rowing & # 39; it deserves to be described in more detail.
Our & Captain; (wearing a conical straw hat called "Khamout", which is typical of Inlay Lake) keeps his eyes open to avoid the rugs or tangled weeds from floating below the surface. He stands upright on one leg – his left – on the stern of our canoe (an act of balance which is a feat in itself), while his right leg is twisted around a long paddle, squeezed tightly at the tip of the end (about the height of his shoulder) and held tightly between the body and knee of this leg. Then the body bends forward and pushes the calf and knee paddle forward, in a motion that pushes the canoe forward. Next, he hooks the foot of his now fully extended right foot around the paddle to pull it back and the process begins anew. Seemingly effortless, he does it in one smooth and slippery motion, which is a fascinating sight. But on top of all that is – while there is an almost dull expression on his face, the smoking of a guard (Burmese cigar), which he holds in his left hand; really amazing. I am afraid that my brief description may not be enough to create an accurate and real picture before your mind. One must really see it. It's amazing again. So, at least for some feet of your lake, you should go boating because this is an experience that is unlikely to be forgotten.
Intha have developed this fascinating and unique style of rowing, along with their equally amazing and unique way of fishing. This is done with a conical color, a very high (almost as high as most fishermen themselves) bamboo braid for bamboo knit fish, which is round and open at the base, with a top closed and containing a grill net. Whenever you are on the lake you can see fishermen forming their own canoes and sometimes individually, forming a line or semicircle. While wearing fish traps they paddle and watch for movements below the water surface indicating the presence of fish (which can be long, thick eel or huge, one-meter or more carp), after which they push the trap. – open end down and highlighted from above – above where the fish sits / goes down to the bottom of the lake and the fish is / remains trapped and safely ends up over a pan or cooking pot as a tasty dish in someone & # 39; with (maybe your) stomach.
As we leave Nyaung Shwe we also see a lot of huge Kyunpaws & # 39 ;. These are floating gardens or farms where flowers are produced and all types of agriculture such as tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, potatoes, beans and legumes, eggplants, as you said, are grown and harvested throughout the year. These Kyunpaws are made from weed bunches that fishermen have to chart the trail. These clusters of weeds separate from their roots so that they simply cut off. Then they bind and bind into large rugs, so they finally form an artificial island up to 3 meters / 1 meter thick that can be moved and held in place by bamboo poles that are drawn into the lake & # 39; Cat.
Agricultural products grown on these floating gardens or farms – although sometimes lacking in the richness of flavors that fruit and vegetables often produce in the fertile soil – are sold not only in local markets on and around the lake, but also in large quantities distributed to other regions and cities. For example, up to 80 tonnes of tomatoes can be harvested here, which explains why many (most?) Tomatoes consumed in Burma are probably inlay tomatoes.
Across the lake, you can see fishermen and floating farms because fishing and farming are the main sources of income for people living on, on and around the lake. Other sources of income are e.g. Production of clothes, shoulder bags, keroots, ceramics, parasols, etc. A fast-growing additional source of income is local and foreign visitors to Inlay Lake and its surrounding areas.
Almost every village around the lake specializes in other jobs such as boat building, kerot making, silk and cotton weaving and pottery.
We have now reached the Nga Phe Chaung Monastery, also known as & # 39; Jumping cat monastery.
Nga Phe Chaung Monastery is located in Inlay Lake. It is an attractive wooden monastery built on screws over a lake in the late 1850s. It takes about an hour by boat to reach the ancient monastery. Sea side & # 39; the monastery is not that impressive.
The monastery is known for being the home of a large collection of ancient Burmese Buddha paintings of various sizes, materials and areas that are good to see. Nga Phe Chaung is the largest monastery here. It was built on teak rocks in traditional wood architecture, and from the time of writing, at around 170 years old, was the oldest monastery on the lake.
This monastery is definitely worth a visit not only because of its historical significance and architecture but also because of its many and famous cats. Several of them train monks to jump through hoops provided you somehow manage to convince the cats that the best they can do is follow your command; and the other cats? Well – as you can see – they sleep.
OK, now I'm going back to my hotel in Nyaung Shwe. Tomorrow I am going to Khaung Daing village, famous for pottery.