As we took our seats on the AirBagan flight from Yangon to Heho, Tim was browsing the editorial page of the inflight magazine, where he read that the editor wants to thank their customers for their loyalty despite "the unfortunate incident in December", this is not what you want to read as you are about to take off.... (on our safe landing in Heho a quick google search revealed that one of the company's four planes had missed the runway at Heho, crashed and burst into flames killing two. This all happened on Christmas day 2012 )
As we drove towards Inle lake it was apparent we were higher up, the air was fresher and the temperature was less sweltering. Our hotel here had been recommended by a friend and it didn't disappoint, lovely views over the hillsides and amazing spicy noodle breakfast. This ended up being our favourite of the whole country, though this wasn't difficult as there was little choice in our budget, often having to choose the best from a bad to mediocre lot from the guidebook as we arrived in town. Trip-advisor and online bookings have yet to really make a presence here in Myanmar. There were many damp, small and windowless box rooms.
We spent a lovely day out on the lake, managing to avoid any rain for the whole day. We had proper chairs with cushions on our open boat, and we travelled amongst the village areas to see the various crafts. This was much more touristy than anything else we had done so far, but nevertheless enjoyable. The busy market was filled with lots of delights, from dried fish, to fresh fried doughnut cakes (Tim's favourite), to jewellery and even random stalls selling various pills and medicines.
We learnt how weaving is done by hand, Tim purchased his much loved longyi (traditional long skirt worn by all the men) and we both got to sample the hand rolled spiced sweet cigarettes.
In the afternoon we got to stretch our legs with a walk to the Indein Temple Complex, a strange temple up on the hill with hundreds of small Stupas that looked aerial antennas looking up at the sky. We returned to shore as sun was beginning to set. The evenings entertainment was provided by Aung a fourth generation puppet master, with scenes from Burmese legends all acted out to the backdrop of a Queens English radio commentary broadcast.
Bee sampled a traditional Burmese massage and having thought that Thai massage was quite strong and often brutal this was something else, at one point opening her eyes to find the lady walking on her body holding a ceiling strut!
Our final treat at Nyuang Shwe was to hire bicycles and cycle out to the vineyard and up the hill to the winery at Red Mountain. We got to sample wines such as their Sauvignon Blanc, Late Harvest, Rose d' Inle, Pinot Noir and a Shiraz Tempranillo, all of which impressed although we should have known not to order cheese to accompany it. We thought given that there was a French owner, we might get to taste good cheese, but all we got was a processed cheese slice cut into triangles on the plate!