Today is my last day in Inle Lake area, and I intend to enjoy it!! I get up at 8, there’s only one blond girl having breakfast. God! Everyone is getting up so early here!

I join her and we start chatting. Charlotte – from Netherlands – has no plan for the day so I invite her to join me to ride a bicycle to the bottom of the mountain and then make a loop walking. Great, we are now 2!

More people start arriving and join us at the table. We were early after all! We end up having a very lively breakfast, 10 people in the living room. Very nice! I haven’t seen that many foreigners in a while!

 

Nyaungshwe Gipsy Inn breakfast

Nyaungshwe Gipsy Inn breakfast

 

Charlotte shouts over everyone to offer people to join us on our trekking mission. 4 more people are in. huh huh…. Sounds like a lot to me!! Bye-bye the quiet walk in the mountain!! I’m a very patient and flexible person but there is one thing I really don’t like: the group effect…

 

I was planning to leave early so that I could have my afternoon free writing. But it took us more than an hour and half to get everyone ready. Group effect!!

 

10:30  we finally go. Richard and Christie (American), Joel (Swiss), Zoltan (Hungarian), Charlotte and myself. Everyone is super nice and I quickly forget about my free afternoon, let’s enjoy the day in the countryside!

 

We leave the bikes in a lady’s garden and start walking up the mountain. In the first village, a very friendly monk invites us for tea, biscuits and bananas in his very special temple: a cave dug in the mountain, blankets on the floor and Buddha statues at the back. A really nice temple actually, very chilly and having a great view on a golden stupa.

 

 

 

Note: When you’re invited in a  monastery, never try to pay but never try to leave without giving anything! It’s always appreciated to put a couple of notes in the donation box!

 

We reach Htat Ein caves 10 minutes later. I have quite low expectations about them as I don’t know anything except that it’s the usual trekking route.

A monk stops us. Do we have to pay an entrance fee? No! He just wants to give us some torches!

We find some straits going down into a massive hole in the mountain. It’s pretty dark in there indeed, but no need for a torch so far, the day light shows us the way and the beautiful stupas and Buddha statues.

Htat Ein Caves

Htat Ein Caves

 

 

 

Walking towards the back of the cave, more stairs head further down. It’s now getting seriously dark! Sharing the torches we slowly walk down in the stone corridors, leading to bigger rooms where more Buddha statues seem to be resting there in a dark and humid peace. The atmosphere is much cooler than outside, it’s a nice change! Torches are turned off. It’s absolutely pitch black !! Beautiful!! (I know, “beautiful’ is a strange way of describing a pitch black place…)

 

 

We slowly head back and explore more rooms and corridors, one leading to another entrance of the cave where sitting Buddhas seem to be meditating contemplating the countryside.

 

 

The others stay here while I head back to the main cave, looking for a bit of silence. And I do actually find it!! I sit there 5 minutes, listening to the silence only interrupted by an insect buzzing and water dropping somewhere. It’s fantastic! So peaceful!!

 

But it doesn’t last long, I can already hear the 5 loud voices coming back this way. Time to go!

 

It’s quite easy to get lost in the mountain if you don’t have a good sense of direction. Many track go in different directions, but we managed easily to get to Lwe Kin village. Behind us massive black clouds formed and we can see the rain falling on the mountains. It’s absolutely beautiful! I love thunder storms!!

 

 

 

 

We rush on the way down to the winery to avoid being soaking wet. It wouldn’t be a big deal but it would be annoying as I’m taking a night bus in few hours!

 

Kids in Lwe Kin village

Kids in Lwe Kin village

 

 

The storm gets really big , we can see the rain and hear the thunder but it seems to be hitting the cave where we were just before.

 

Trekking Inle Lake - Lwe Kin

Thunder Storm in the mountains

 

We reach the winery in 45 minutes, just as we get the first drops of rain. Good timing!

 

Red Mountain winery

Red Mountain winery

 

 

Lunch break and wine tasting! For 2000K we can try 4 wines from their list and I must admit – even if I don’t know much about wine – that they are not very good! I try dry cabernet-sauvignon, Inle red wine, Port wine, Red mountain red wine.

 

Red Mountain winery bottles

Red Mountain winery bottles

 

I also get a full glass of sweet local Rose, expecting it to be as bad as the other ones, and it’s in fact wonderful!! Really really good! I can’t resist and buy a full bottle to bring it back. Delicious! (but not very wise as now I’ll have to carry it for the rest of the trip!)

 

Red Mountain winery

Red Mountain winery

 

 

The walk back to the bicycles is the most boring part as we are back on the road and its traffic. Christie and I, walking way front, get a ride with a friendly man on a motorcycle. He saves us 20 minutes, but it still took us more than an hour to reach the bikes from the winery!

 

I cycle back to the hotel fast, it’s nearly bus time! I just have time to finish writing my postcards and go to the post office. Done!

 

I walk to the bus station and have a nice surprise in the bus! We are only 5 people so I can lay and be very comfortable, and the a/c is broken so the temperature is perfect!!

 

Bye-bye Inle, Hello Bagan!!