Friday 22 March 2013

Mandalay to Inle Lake part two

We got our taxi as planned yesterday and our driver was true to his word- telling lots of jokes. They were either very crude or had the same punchline, which was that the President had no brain! He said people were allowed to criticize the Government now, (not sure how true this is) but that he had spent three months in prison for it in the past.
He took us to see one of the most popular sights in Mandalay, which is called the U Bein bridge. It is a teak bridge that spans two kilometres across a lake and was right near our bus station. It was also sunset when we got there and very crowded, with both western tourists and locals.
It appears that very few tourists travel independently as we hardly ever see any and there were no others on our bus last night. They appear to congregate at the same few things at the same time, sunrise and sunset being key times. We never see sunrise and due to a few disappointing attempts at viewing sunsets in designated places, we don't go out of our way for these either.
The U Bein bridge was a worry to me. It was very rickety, swayed and creaked, had no handrails, was about 15 feet in the air and only about eight feet wide. Worst of all, it is the dry season so the lake is very low and a lot of the water had dried up so the bridge just spanned soil for a lot of the way. It was alright though.
Afterwards, our driver took us to the bus station and yet again we arrived too early at our destination. This time it was 4am, the hotel security guard left us to sleep on a sofa next to reception and the main stairs. We woke to a lot of noise and the staff were all working and cleaning and guests were heading out on early trips. I think they might have politely left us there all day.
We have come about 200 miles to Inle Lake and have just been out on bicycles to explore it. I was worried that the water might be really low here too.
However, we got to a little village next to the lake and a boatman took us across and it was beautiful. Everything I had hoped it would be yesterday and a lot more.
There was a deserted wooden jetty - not a bridge as the lake is really wide - but almost identical to U Bein apart from that. We also saw local people just getting on with their lives. Brilliant.

1 comment:

  1. Just heard about the riots and killings in Meiktila on BBC World News. We were within a couple of miles of it last night at 10pm. We checked on my tablet and it was less than 100 miles left to Lake Inle. I couldn't understand why we went on a massive detour around it as it would have been the obvious route here. We were expecting to get here before 2am but after being thrown around and driving on tiny roads for ages I now understand why.