The bus arrives in Inle a little late. Instead of 3AM, it arrives at 4AM due to rain. There was a check point before the bus arrives in Inle station where they will ask for a USD10.00 from the foreigners. I don’t know what is that payment for. I was so sleepy that I only opened my eyes and get back to sleep. I was waiting for the collector to approach me or wake me up to collect that money until I noticed that the bus moved again. Nobody woke me up to collect money. I was thinking maybe they will collect it at the bus station. I ready my USD10 but the only person who approached me were drivers who will send you to your guesthouse. I was thinking maybe the collector thinks I’m Burmese. Well, some think I’m Burmese.
There’s a lot of taxi driver waiting outside the bus. They will ask you where are you going to stay. I told one guy Win Nyunt Inn and another guy approached me, asking in broken words, “Philip-pine?” (pine, as in pine tree). Instead of Philippines, Burmese only understand Philip-pine, though some understand Philippines. It was still raining and dark. We arrived in Win Nyunt Inn after around 7 minutes. The driver asks 2,000Kyat (USD1.65) because he said I am alone. Talk about traveling alone.
Win Nyunt, the guesthouse owner (his guesthouse named after him), opened the door for me. He gave me a rate of USD15 per night per head for a twin room on the 2nd floor. He told me I’m the first lucky customer to stay in the room and since I’m alone and lucky, I will only pay USD15 per night (he is a good salesman). They have just finished dividing the 2nd floor to make more room but they haven’t retouch it yet but everything looks okay. Talk about lucky again.
The room was big and a little bit cold. There’s no fan and aircon but the cool wind can go inside and make the room breezy.
Yes, this is how messy my room is.
Myanmar plug is 2-pin. You might bring a travel adaptor when you travel.
Win Nyunt told me that the rate upstairs is slightly expensive than downstairs. Downstair’s rate is USD20/per room. There are 5 rooms downstairs and 5 upstairs. The third floor is a small room for guest to enjoy their breakfast. The rate will depend on the season. Win Nyunt speaks English and you can call him at +9509428338045 or +950936020123 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The ground floor room:
I love the room upstairs because it is spacious while here is quiet small. The bed is just nice though. All rooms has its own bathroom and with hot and cold water. It’s clean as well.
I slept at 5AM and woke up at 9AM. The rain already stops but still cloudy. The free breakfast was served at the terrace. They served coffee/tea, a slice of papaya and 1 banana & 3 slices of freshly toasted bread. I love their pure, fresh mango juice without sugar. And just look at the background view, you will love it, I promise.
After breakfast, I asked Win Nyunt where can I rent a bike because I’m going to Red Estate Winery. He told me he will get one for me and within 5 minutes or so, he got me a bike. It costs 1,000Kyat (USD0.85) for the whole day.
He showed me the map and said I have to take the mountain view trail.
Bicycle map of Inle
Win Nyunt Inn is located in Win Nyunt Street. I guess he own the street? It was 10km ride plus a boat ride to the other side of the mountain. From the jetty, it will be another 11km ride, so a total of 21km. I protested when I learned how far it is. I asked him if there is a shortest way and he said yes but he said he won’t let me go to the shortest way because I cannot see anything other than road and cars. Mountain side has the best view. He said the boat will cost me 6,000Kyat (USD5.00) for one person. He then wrote the 6,000Kyat on the map (I had another map which is now very crumpled so I took a new map for this blog). I will give you a tip of one way how not to get cheated by a driver or anyone, (Me, whispers to your ear), asked the local to write the amount in their language and at least learn how to say thank you in their local language and give a lot of smile. I did this on my first travel in Bangkok and it works! (It was not an amount, it was an address if the driver don’t understand me and he even use his meter fare! Some drivers don’t use meter fare). He told me that if the boatman will ask me a higher amount, show this map to him and let him read the amount with his little writing on it in Burmese. I felt so loved!
I head down at 10AM, following his instruction but… I still get lost. I asked two girls along the way and I’m glad the other girl knows how to speak English while the other one keeps on smiling. I love people smiles at me when I travel.
If you will see that light blue bridge, you are on your way to your 10km scenic yet bumpy ride and on this side are the boats going to Inle Lake.
Boats to Inle Lake:
Honestly, I didn’t regret that I follow Win Nyunt’s suggestion that I ride the mountain view because the area was awesome! There are bikers every now and then and I can’t help paddling very slow just to savor the moment.
After a few minutes of cycling, I stopped to take some photos.
Then, I saw this thick clouds and rain on a farther mountain. Have to bike fast!
It was 11:30AM and the road was going upward. My legs started to get tired and I was hungry. I saw a little store which sells liquors and some locals are drinking inside. It didn’t worry me to stop because there are women inside as well, all Burmese. Burmese people are relatively friendly and since they are Buddhist, they have this way of living peacefully. Their belief is that when they die, if they do bad things to the world while they are still alive, their soul will be punished the same way or worst. Myanmar has less crime.
I bought a bottle of water and tea left with nuts and ate it like locals do. As I’ve told you, I love their tea left salad. A heavy tattooed man approached me and talk to me in Burmese. I looked at him as if I understand him and I told him, “Red Winery twar mel”, (I’m going to Red Winery), then he smiled, I think he understand that I am not Burmese just from my accent, haha. I learned some of the words from my Burmese friend and colleague. I asked her to write all the necessary words in case I will get lost, like I wan’t to drink, water, help or where is or I’m going to… a few of it just in case. He then asked me in English where I’d came from and I told him from Philippines. I showed him my colleague’s Burmese handwritten words and he was so amused. He said I need a boat to cross going to winery. One man overheard our conversation and he told me he is a boatman. I asked him how much and he said 8,000Kyat (USD6.60) because I am alone. The tattooed man told me that I can pay 5,000Kyat then I looked at the boatman, grinning. I already felt like a friend with these locals. Some of the locals just looked at us, smiling. He said no and he lowered it down to 7,000Kyat. I took out my map and showed him Win Nyut’s note and he laugh and agreed. The boatman told me to follow him.
There is also a Hot Spring where you can take a dip if you want. Every now and then, the boatman stops just to make sure I’m okay. He was riding his motorcycle.
The boatman in red sling bag
Khaung Daing Natural Hot Spring.
I went inside but they make it into a hot spring pool. It’s like a warm swimming pool actually. The reception just showed me the picture and the price is USD10 with towel. From Hot Spring, the boat station as they call it is only 5 minutes ride. It’s located on the left side so look carefully.
The boatman told me that he won’t drive the boat, instead, it’s his brother who will send me to the jetty going to winery. You have to bring your bicycle with you on the boat.
The boatman’s name is Mr. Hla Aung. You can contact him at +950949581611 or +9509428358934.
No, I am not short, he is just so tall! haha.
The Giant and the Dwarf. Roar!
The Boat Station. And yes, it looks like it’s going to rain soon!
At first, I wonder where’s the lake. It looks like a swamp.
His older brother.
And then, here’s the lake!
I bow to the people who can survive to live here.
Colorful windows brings color to a seemed lonely place.
Heavy, dark clouds.
Boat ride to the jetty was around 15 minutes. I gave him 7,000Kyat instead of 6,000Kyat. It’s a hardwork. He smiled and said goodbye.
The Jetty going to winery:
From this jetty, go straight and turn to your left. Start your yet another 11km journey.
To the left to the left…
The view was awesome! I stopped when I get tired or when I take a picture.
It started to rain and I saw a little store which I can use as a shelter. There were three women inside, eating with their kids. They signaled me to go inside but I told them it’s okay. I still have shelter outside. I don’t want their floor to get dirty. They were all smiling at me. After almost 20 minutes, the rain started to slow down.
And for about 5 minutes riding from the store, I saw the Red Mountain Estate signboard at the right side.
I almost died when I saw the road. It’s uphill so I have to dismount and push my bike.
And whatever like eternity, I saw this sign:
Endless road (the road going down).
It’s all worth it! It’s Inle Lake and mountain.
They offer wine tasting for 3,000Kyat (USD2.50).
I love the dry muscat. It’s strong-mild and crisp. The rest taste sweet and light. Their Nasi Goreng taste good too.
Amazing view from the restaurant.
Inside the wine glass… is a wine
After eating, I walked around to see their grape vineyard. You can walk around freely.
Looks like an office:
Wine dam? I don’t know what it is.
Wines ready to ship
Vineyards with different types of wine name.
It was slippery so I went back to the restaurant to pay my bill. Yes, they will allow you to walk around without paying your bill yet.
My total costs of wine tasting and food was USD9.00. I gave USD20 to the cashier and they told me they cannot accept my money because of the “eight”. I asked the guy what “eight” and he pointed out the Federal Reserve Note sign. I told him that I really don’t get it. I don’t see any “eight” in the money and all my money has a FEDERAL RESERVE NOTE word in it. I told him that the hotel that I stayed accepted my money without any problem. I gave him another $20 bill and he said still the same. My Kyat is not enough. I gave him another $20 bill for the third try and he said it’s now okay. I took a sigh of relief and asked him again what is the problem. I really don’t get it and I was very curious to know. He took my $20 rejected bill and compare it to the one he accepted.
Here is our conversation:
Him: (Pointing the clean bill) You see this one, no “eight”.
Me: (I’m not sure if I’m too slow or I just don’t understand what he meant) No.
Him: (Pointing the rejected bill) You see this “eight”, it’s dirty.
Me: (Shit! Yes, my mind is cursing). Oh, you mean the edge.
Him: Yes, “eight”. The bank don’t accept dirty “eight”.
Me: Okay, now I understand. Thank you.
So, if you travel in Myanmar, don’t bring your dollar with a dirty “eight”, oppss… edge. Be sure to check your money that it is clean. Crisp is not necessary. Else, change all your money to Kyat. But an update, they don’t accept USD anymore, so better change all your currency into their currency.
Sunset viewing is awesome in Red Winery but it is so cloudy I didn’t wait for it. I’m also scared to go back to the guesthouse because of the dark road. I didn’t see any lamp post and I didn’t bring my headlamp.
From the winery going back to Nyaung Shwe was only a mere 20 minutes ride and be careful with the dogs on the road. That’s the shortcut to Red Winery but as what Win Nyunt’s suggestion and recommendation is, ride the mountain view trail.
Win Nyunt was in the guesthouse when I arrived. He asked me how’s my journey and I told him that it’s very far but I love it. He was grinning and said, “Yes, it’s far”.
I booked from him for a sunrise in Inle Lake for 16,000Kyat (USD13.20). At first, he told me that for 1 person, the amount is normally 18,000Kyat (USD14.85). He called his friend and he told me I can pay 15,000Kyat (USD12.35). The boatman will fetch me at 5AM.
They also have a traditional Burmese massage which is 7,000Kyat (USD5.75). I need it after a long ride and it was so relaxing. Win Nyunt himself do that massage. Nope, he didn’t touch my body, he used his legs to massage, he was literally on top of me, standing, his hands holding the bar. The massage center was on another place where his wife and son stays. His wife was there as well, doing a massage to another customer. Love it!