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…….The World Without Boundaries

Inlay : Cycling up to the Red Winery

Written By: jipp - Mar• 22•14

Inlay that I found out was far better organized in terms of basic facilities and infrastructure compared to Bagan. The reason being was probably the population there – which was far bigger and needed to be entertained more compared to Bagan which was more like a cluster of villages. Inlay is very much a farming district dominated by an expansive spread of countryside that stretches out along a beautiful valley.

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I stayed at a hotel called Remember Inn which was located very much within a walking distance from Inlay town and even the jetty to the Inle Lake. Quite true to its name, they wouldn’t let you leave without making sure that you have had the best of hospitality while staying there. They even let me use their shower room to shower after coming back from my tour to the lake so that I’d be all fresh before getting on the super long bus ride back to Yangon.

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Inlay is a very laid-back town where people seem to do things in their own pace. They are very nice – despite my lack of interaction with them due to language barrier. They have their own way of dressing themselves up and of course the sarongs are still the most dominant feature in their fashion. But it was the colorful sling bag that caught my attention the most. It was like everybody seemed to have one on them.

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One thing I gotta tell you about is that, tourists are not allowed to rent a motorbike in Inlay. Instead, they are only allowed to rent a bicycle – meaning – you have no choice but doing the paddling and unless you are a tourist (ewww) who has probably got a hired driver driving your ass around. It is very cheap – at 1000 kyats per day – and very easily available too.

I used to believe that riding a bike was nothing compared to running but after paddling for quite some time I was beginning to believe that I was wrong. I mean, seriously, paddling is not that easy especially when the road is not really well-paved. But the best thing about it is that, you can always stop whenever you want – just like that.

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There’s always something to see along the way and I had to admit that Inlay really has its own beauty. Every now and then I’d bump into a bull cart which was heavy with haystack, fire logs or sugar-canes – something that I’d never see back in Malaysia nowadays.

The road was partially asphalted but mostly graveled so paddling to the maximum speed was almost impossible. I am not sure if it was seasonal, but I was there when Inlay was very dry so I had to keep up with the thick dust that threatened to penetrate through my nostrils and if I inhaled harder, to my sorry lungs. Uhuks!

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Riding on a bike had given me the rare opportunity of seeing the beauty of the Inlay countryside in such a close proximity. Every now and then I’d stop to take pictures or to just embrace the beauty like there was no tomorrow. Somehow the villages reminded me of my very own kampong where I spent most of my childhood so there was a little bit of sentimental things going on through my head. Heh.

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After such a long ride, I finally arrived at the winery but not before squeezing me out of my very last ounce of energy by taking me up against a hill. I mean, I was not sure where the hell all my energy had disappeared into because I was really struggling. In the end I had kick my ego away and push the bike at least up to the bike station. Uhuks!

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The winery was OK but it was the view from there that made me go OMG. I could see the beautiful stretch of the countryside and the expansive farms and even the Inle Lake in the far distance.

The sun was quite intense but it was windy up there so I didn’t really feel the heat. Most visitors would usually do the wine-tasting but I couldn’t quite trust myself by even thinking about doing it. I mean, I didn’t want to end up drinking more than I should and opened myself up to some unwanted troubles. I could be a very bad drinker at times. Hehe.

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It wasn’t really my first encounter of a grape yard because I remember coming into one when I was in Jericho last year but seeing it in a South East Asian country was quite something. After taking a peek at the wine-making process, I returned to Inlay to see what it could offer at night. I happened to see a sign saying something about a puppet show and I was instantly interested to check it out.

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The puppet show really was a master piece of art. It absolutely needs a set of very high skills to get the puppets do such incredible movements and beautiful acrobatics while in tandem with the music and narration. The puppeteer told me how he inherited the skills from his father and that he’s been doing it for the past 30 years or so.

The show is very much on verge of extinction because the younger generation appears to be so uninterested in learning the rare skills of puppeteering. He is now putting his last hope in his son – who is currently studying at a local university – to learn the skills and keep the tradition afloat.

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Finding a good restaurant with good food is not a difficult task in Inlay. Inlay that I found out is full of decent restaurants and there is a great variety of foods in the menus to choose from.

I was actually stuck to a restaurant called Sun Flower because they really served me good food – not only good but they were great! Looking back now, I can’t believe that it was the only restaurant that I went to within the town of Inlay. I mean, when the food is great, why bother going to anywhere else right? LOL

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The night did not just end there. I was later joined by two French girls – who surprisingly happened to be studying in KL, at University of Malaya to be exact where I studied too. It turned out to be such a great conversation as they kept bombarding me with a lot of questions, from things about places of interest in and around KL to the Allah issue.

Of course I couldn’t help but asking why they picked Malaysia out of so many countries in the world and they said they wanted to come to a multi-racial country where they get to learn different cultures in one country. Then out of curiosity again I asked how the locals were treating her – and the answer was rather surprising.

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“Some are treating us well but a majority doesn’t especially the Malays. Most of them stay away from us which is quite frustrating. May be it comes from the colonial time”, not the exact words but I immediately got what they were trying to get across to me.

When I asked about the educational system at the University of Malaya, they were fast to say “Everything is so slow. I can’t understand why it takes so long just to register even a single subject”

“Another thing that frustrates is the lack of interaction between students and lecturers at classes. The students don’t really ask questions or give opinions. They seem to take in whatever is being taught to them. Back in Europe we are so used to asking questions and giving opinions. But over at UM, whenever I ask questions or give my opinions, the other students would give me all kinds of looks”, again not her exact words but those were her exact points that I remember.

I smiled, bitterly, not because there was anything amusing about it, but it sounded very familiar to me. I mean, it’s been more than 10 years since I left UM, and it hasn’t changed much.

After exchanging email addresses, we had to say good bye to each other because it was getting too cold. I returned to my hotel room with a heavy head – thanks to the 2 bottles of Mandalay beer that I had had back at the restaurant.

But out of all the things that I wanted to do in Inlay, I was most exciting about doing something the very next day – to go out to the famous Inle Lake!

Yippie!

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3 Comments

  1. audrey says:

    Hahah, did you buy the sling bag? I couldn’t say no 🙂 It just looks so cool on them, regardless of age.

    Coincidence, I had lunch at Sun Flower too! Nice food, good location for people watching, and to escape from the heat. I love their mint tea.

    It was so hot when we reached the winery – I almost passed out. During the guided tour into the cellar I was so tempted to ask if we could stay inside lonnger because it was so nicely cool and syiok, haha

  2. elizabeth says:

    nice blog post!

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