Bagan & Inle Lake
Bagan is.... temple after temple after temple. I'm not kidding, there are some two thousand temples dotted around this area and even when you think you've seen every temple style imaginable, I assure you, you haven't.
We spent three days in the area and explored for the good part of two days and we only saw a handful of all the temples here. The best way to get around in by E-bike, good for the environment and good for off-roading on the dusty roads. Until you fall off...
You can easily escape the crowds if you roll your way from temple to temple.
Perhaps one of my favourite parts of visiting Bagan was getting lost! We often drove off the beaten path and discovered various hidden and seemingly forgotten temples. My favourite temples were often found in overgrown, bougainvillea-filled gardens.
I haven't written too much about the food in Myanmar yet, which is a shame as we've had some really good experiences. We read beforehand that many people find the food very oily (some of it is) and not that great for vegetarians (you do have to search) but that being said we've had some of the best food our trip so far in Myanmar!
I like that the flavour combinations aren't too sweet ( a lot of Thai & Indian food is a bit too creamy for my taste buds) I love the fresh and spicy flavours in Myanmar food, especially the salads! Some of the salads we've had here have been so tasty. We keep returning to the spicy tomato salad (pictured above)... yum yum yum. We also love the tea-leaf and bean salads, if you're travelling to Myanmar soon don't skip ordering a salad!
After a few days of temple-hopping (rolling?) in Bagan we flew to Inle Lake, one of the most anticipated destinations of our Myanmar adventure. I'd seen many beautiful pictures of this vast and serene lake and I wasn't disappointed.
Inle Lake doesn't really feel touristy (even though there are plenty of other tourists) it's so big that when you're exploring you often have the lake to yourself.
On our first day we explored the Lake's surroundings by bicycle, it's a good way to orient yourself and you can pop your bikes on a boat to get across the lake to the other side (handy!). After a good few hours of cycling, we made a stop at the Hot Springs. We didn't really know what to expect and the sound of screeching children as we entered made my heart sink, but luckily for just 10 dollars you can have your own pool in a more private section.
The water is really warm and luscious and we spent a good hour or so dipping in and out of the pools and drying our tired limbs in the sunshine. Worth a trip if you're in the area!
After exploring the countryside by bike, we decided to do the typical boat trip on our second day. We opted to go in the afternoon and end with a glorious sun-set over the lake.
It was an interesting trip, we boated past all the floating villages, and saw all the mums in their motor boats waiting to pick up their kids from school! Such a funny and touching sight! We also drove through the floating gardens, I'm not even sure how they manage this one! We were given an illuminating tour of the lotus weaving (who knew you could weave from lotus stem, only in Myanmar apparently!)
Also on our trip we visited a silversmith (again floating) and a the jumping cat monastery... as the story goes the (often bored) monks used to train the resident cats to jump through hoops when they weren't meditating! If you visit today though, the resident cats are more interested in cuddles and food than any kind of physical activity. Still, I do love a cat so this was a good stop off point.
We ended the boat-trip with pink skies and candy-floss clouds as a local fisherman danced with his fishing net for us. It's all for the tourists benefit these days, but we enjoyed the show nonetheless.
If you're planning a trip to Myanmar then add Bagan and Inle lake to your itinerary, they are both fascinating and beautiful places to visit and we've had a great time in both.