I visited the beautiful Inle Lake in Myanmar as part of #escapers17. It is a super event organized by Scoot and Accor Hotels. It is one trip that I will remember for a long time for all kind of reasons! It was a trip where I caught a flight every day for about five days in a row! It was also a trip where we bonded and had fun, actually you will get a better idea if you watch the video below!
I will focus on the Inle Lake and Novotel Inle Lake in this post, though I explored a bit of Yangon too. Inle Lake is a freshwater lake located in the Shan State of Myanmar. The local people are known as Intha.
The most distinctive feature of the fishermen of the Inle Lake is that they row with their legs standing on the boat! They are the star attractions of the lake! I think before tourism became popular they just went about their business but now the sunset pictures are entirely for the benefit of the tourists! No, I don’t have a single one. It reminds me a little of Stilt Fishing in Sri Lanka.
The best way to get around the lake is by boat! In my experience, not too many boatmen speak English though. The tourist part is Ayaung Shwe where most of the accommodations and restaurants are. Our hotel Novotel Inle Lake Mayat Min is in the same region though in a more secluded part with direct access to water!
After closely observing my behavior, I have come to the conclusion that I like ‘doing nothing’the most on a trip! Sitting in the boat and being in a state of limbo till we reached the next spot was probably my favorite pastime. But I was forced to come out of my happy daze frequently.
One of my first stops was the Jumping Cat Monastery (Nga Hpe Kyaung) on the Inlay Lake. While there are no jumping cats these days, cats are certainly there. They are well fed, prone to lazing around. For me the visit to the monastery was special because of the picture of the cutest lama I have ever seen! In Burma people pledge a certain part of their life to priesthood. It could be as short as 3 weeks.
Even though it was not the racing season we got to witness a mock boat race on the Inle Lake. Later we were allowed on the boats to try our luck at rowing with legs. To our credit no blogger fell off in the lake!
One of the popular things to do at Inle Lake is to visit a cheroot making factory. This is combined with lotus weaving, iron smith and boat making factories. There is hardly any pressure to buy anything though. I rolled a cheroot and tried taking a puff too. But any kind of smoke doesn’t agree with me. However, the cheroot was mild compared to Sheesha! I have concluded long ago that smoking is not my thing.
I came across weaving from lotus stems for the first time at Inle Lake. It is a labor intensive task. They made beautiful shawls from the lotus thread but for me it was too expensive to buy!
Our last stop was the Indein Village. It has an impressive collection of old pagodas which are being restored! It has a beautiful covered market too.
She sat by the road as we walked around the Indein Village. She looked so cool that I asked in sign language if I could click a picture. She agreed, at the end she signaled if I I would give her some money which I happily did.
I stayed at the Novotel Inle Lake Myat Min. It is a beautiful hotel right by the lake. You can go to the jetty and start your excursions right there. The jetty is also a great spot to watch sunsets. The first picture in this post was clicked there and the model is fellow blogger Mar Pages.
I also enjoyed a cultural evening at the hotel. There were fire dancers, elaborate costumes, and even we were invited to join in the dance!
We also got an opportunity to release the lanterns at Novotel Inle Lake. It was a first for me. I totally loved it!
My trip to Inle Lake was short but beautiful. I was amazed that I would get mobile data even in the middle of the lake! I hope I will go back one day and explore more of Inle Lake and Myanmar.
PS. I visited Myanmar as a part of #escapers17 team. The event was organized by Accor Hotels and Scoot along with other sponsors.
As I live in Gurgaon, I take all my flights out of Delhi. I have flown to Johannesburg and Tel Aviv from Mumbai but the starting point was still, Delhi as I took Delhi-Mumbai flights. So, flying from Jaipur to Singapore with Scoot was a novelty for me. I was flying Jaipur Singapore on Scoot for #escapers17. Accor Hotels and Scoot were two main sponsors of the event. The event was taking place over Singapore and Myanmar. From India desiTraveler and I were taking part.
As I was on a sponsored trip, my travel and stay to Jaipur was taken care off. We went by road to Jaipur and stayed at the Fairmont Jaipur till it was time to leave for the airport for our late night Scoot flight.
If I have to do it on my own, I will probably go by Shatabdi and stay at a hotel!
Jaipur International Airport
Check-in, security and immigration was a breeze at the Jaipur International Airport. It is a small airport when I compare it to Delhi and that meant much less crowd. I anyway do not shop at the airports, so less shops at the Jaipur International Airport do not affect me in the least!
The Scoot Experience
While going to Singapore the plane was 787 Dreamliner! It was my first flight in a Dreamliner. Scoot is a budget airline so one needs to figure out what one wants and pay exactly for that. Scoot and Tiger Air are partner airlines.
For me in-flight meals and 20 kg check-in baggage were booked. Later exploring on my own, I also noticed that you need to be aware of Scootthru if you are in transit.
All my flights with Scoot and Tiger Air were on time. Other than the Dreamliner they use A 320 frequently.
They do have vegetarian options for meals on all the legs. They serve the meal with an option of tea/coffee. Preference like any other airline is given to re-booked meals. However, they do not allow outside food on board. Unlike Indian budget airlines, there is no free water on board, so do take a note.
The planes were fresh, I am not particularly tall so the leg space was decent for me. The staff was courteous at all times.
Overall, I am quite impressed with Scoot and their partners Tiger Air. I took four flights with them: Jaipur-Singapore return and Singapore-Yangon return.
Flying out of Jaipur was a good experience too. If I get good fares, I am surely going to consider flying out of Jaipur and other nearby airports. I wonder why it never occurred to me on my own!
My stay at Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen is about to end and I will remember it fondly. Singapore was my first trip abroad when I was a Ph.D. student. I was presenting a paper at Nanyang Technological University. Eighteen years later, I have quit my in academics and I am here as a travel blogger to attend #escapers17 on the invitation of Accor Hotels, Soot, Tiger Air and Asia Holidays.
I have stayed at Ibis before as a blogger (Ibis Delhi Airport, Ibis Budget at Makassar) and on my own (Ibis Budget in London). I have to say they maintain a standard and you can rely on them to find a comfortable room waiting for you on your arrival. Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen was no exception.
Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen is located at 7-8 minutes’ walk from Bugis MRT. To me being near to public transport is important as taxis turn out to be insanely expensive in the end. There are food courts and shopping malls around. Bugis has the Downtown line so you can directly go to the major attractions of Singapore.
I have a comfortable room and for a change I am writing my review sitting in the room itself. I stayed in 1006 at the 10th floor. As I have stayed with Ibis before I am familiar with the layout.
The bathroom is functional and clean. And by night when I have completely tired out myself, I can switch off the room lights right from the bed.
I also like that they place a lot of emphasis on reusing the towels and the linen. I need to find out more about their Planet 21 program. There is a working table in the room but I mostly worked sitting on the bed! I could charge all my gadgets easily.
The Room with Extra Benefits
If you are staying at Ibis you can book a room with extra benefits. It automatically gives you early check-in and late check-out.
However, what impressed me most is the pre-loaded phone called Handy. It comes with a local SIM which already has unlimited internet access. You can make calls to 27 countries (India included) both to the land line and mobile phone.
I used it in a slightly different way! I would turn its hotspot on and connect my own phone to it! And then I would use my phone as I use it anywhere. My family stays in touch with me via Data calls so I did not use the calling feature of Handy. So I did not buy a local SIM at all. I found Handy most useful because all I need was to turn the hotspot on and get connected via my phone!
Food at Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen
Being a vegetarian has become easier and I could find many choices at the Ibis Singapore as a vegetarian. I took many meals here and I could find vegetarian choices at all three meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast they have a bit of Indian options too. The bar cum restaurant has a 24X7 menu which is really useful. I was late one night. It is comforting to know that you will get food in your own hotel when you are dead tired.
I quite liked the hotel. I would happily stay at the Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen again.
My trip to #escapers17 has been sponsored by of Accor Hotels, Soot, Tiger Air and Asia Holidays.