inle lake was almost an afterthought: it wasn't on my original itinerary and the only reason why i decided to visit was hearing how amazing it was from other travelers who'd already been there (from 2 israeli girls in saigon, from an american girl in bagan). i arrived here in the middle of the night, the bus lurching to a stop on the side of the road. a burmese man immediately approached and started asking in broken english for my ticket. i was suspicious at first but soon realized he was my only ride into nyaungshwe (8 miles away), where all the guesthouses are. he took my ticket (which he can redeem for money) while we waited for another bus to arrive to bring more foreign tourists. this is all in pitch dark, the only light from a nearby rest stop. with enough people finally in the old minivan, we were on our way. we stopped at one point to get gas: our driver (his name was "wedgie") knocked on somebody's door in the middle of the night and came back out with a container of supposed fuel.
i ended up staying at the bright hotel and rented a bicycle to explore the town. places like nyaungshwe are my favorites, small enough to get around with a bicycle, with picturesque scenery at every corner. i spent a great deal of time by the side of the road looking for pretty insects to photograph. i even managed to ride my bike up into the hills where i met some mountain people who were amused enough by my presence to allow me to take a photo.
for some reason there are several italian restaurants in nyaungshwe, probably to cater to their foreign clientele (i hardly saw any foreigners, there were just 4 other people staying at my hotel and i knew them all after we had breakfast together). i had pizza for lunch (i was the only customer) and pasta for dinner (once again, there was nobody else but me). they even grew their own italian herbs (like basil) but they weren't doing too well in the dry heat. the romantic evening ambience of the candlelight was courtesy of another blackout. i ate outside while one of the waiters strummed a guitar (the music wasn't for me, they were just bored).
fortunately i had a flashlight in my bag and was able to find my way back to where i was staying. up above the stars twinkled in the night sky.