Inle Sanctuary: Perfect Isolation
We were picked up at the local Pekon Township jetty near the southern end of Inle Lake by a little wooden boat and our beaming boatman, Nyi Nyi, who was eager to share his amazing knowledge of the region and its lakes.
Gliding over Inle and zipping between the marshes, we learned that one should always sit at the front of the boat or have an umbrella ready to guard against the spray from the boat’s bow! An hour of waving at fishermen and water buffalo boys and we had arrived at Phayartaung.
Deceiving as its name may be, The Inle Sanctuary is a beautiful respite on an entirely separate lake to Inle. The region comprises of three lakes – Pekon, Sagar and Inle – and The Inle Sanctuary rests on the banks of Sagar Lake above Inle. Phayartaung is a little town of about 800 people, with a very special monastic school at Phayartaung Monastery where orphans and children from surrounding villages come to learn. The monastery is highly regarded and is often the only opportunity for children in this region to get a decent education that keeps them out of harm’s way.
Full of smiles and a heart of gold, Aung Min is the Pa-O tribesman who owns The Inle Sanctuary. He has a vision of sustainability combined with community development and only purchases organic produce from surrounding villages. He also hires young local hands to supplement employment in the rural communities, while 10 percent of all earnings are donated to the monastery. Our sunset dinner with Aung Min included local wine, local tastes and local anecdotes – we couldn’t ask for a better break after a long journey!
Being so far from any other hotel or large town, we kept expectations sensibly low, but imagine our surprise on walking into our beautiful wood and bamboo bungalow on stilts situated over the water with a full view of Sagar Lake in front of us and the mountains beyond! A lot thought has gone into designing the bungalow interiors, and despite our isolated location they include all the necessary modern conveniences.
Our greatest dilemma that evening was deciding between relaxing on our deck and admiring the tranquility of the Sagar waters, or hiking up to the monastery – a tough decision to make! But whatever you decide, you’ll be wanting to return, so you can do it all over again.