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Nyaungshwe, Myanmar

Note to self, when booking a seat on an air conditioned bus from a hotel concierge, make sure said service is the real deal before the day of. The morning we left Bagan to head to Nyaungshwe (one of the larger port cities on the lake) we were crammed into a mini van (not a bus as advertised) without air conditioning. I'm typically not one to complain, but with 12 people in a van made to carry 9 in 100 degree plus temperatures, not to mention the windows not opening, a guy can only take so much. So, after some complaints and five hours into a ten hour ride we switched vans to one with a working AC. We went from being really uncomfortable to only slightly so. Never the less, we arrived safely in Nyaungshwe, Myanmar. Though small, there are only two traffic lights, Nyaungshwe is a remarkable town. Nestled between two mountain ranges in the Inle Valley, it's tourism industry is beginning to boom. We saw more white faces here than in the large city of Mandalay. Restaurants and eateries are being built by entrepreneurial ex-pats and wealthy Burmese businessmen everywhere you turn your head. It still holds its old-school charm however. Power outages are extremely common. I don't believe we went a full twenty-four hours without an outage. The town's supply of fresh fish and produce is still supplied by the farmers and fishermen of Inle Lake by long-tail boats every morning. Stray dogs roam the streets looking for the free meals left roadside by the monks who make their home in the local monastery. (More on the pups later...) Horse drawn carriages are still a primary means of transportation from place to place. The real draw of the town is the people who live there. Like the other parts of Myanmar we visited, the people of Nyaungshwe are almost kind to a fault. We always felt safe and never once worried about the theft of our possessions (Myanmar also has very harsh penalties for stealing. Not chop your hand off harsh, but harsh none-the-less). People waved and smiled when they passed you by and generally wanted to help out despite the language barrier if you asked a question. We absolutely loved it here and wouldn't hesitate to return.

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