Shwe Indein Pagoda

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There are 1054 stupas forming the Shwe Indein Pagoda and they make an incredible sight. Let’s look at our journey here to see more of the life around Inle Lake.  Villages are clearly demarcated, and often there are structures over the water which sometimes are just banners, not bridges.

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These guys below are roping together long lengths of bamboo. 

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And here people are going about their daily lives.

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As we approached the Shwe Indein Pagoda, it was obvious that many people had the same plan for today. There were boats everywhere, but with only two landing platforms everyone had to be very patient.

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The pagoda area is vast and hosts a procession of some 2,000 monks through this column-flanked building. Our guide, Susu, is of the Intha tribe (pronounced Inda). Until recently, this whole area was off-limits to travellers because the people were seeking autonomy from the Shan State. Negotiations brought the military action to an end, although Indein did not gain full independence. Personal movement around Myanmar is based on a three colour system. If the area is white, anyone can travel freely. If the area is brown, as was this area, then one had to have government permission to enter (e.g., the region where the long-necked Kayan women live). And, if the area is black, no one is allowed in (e.g. the ruby mining region).

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We turned left out of the building into fields dotted with brick structures reminiscent of those in Bagan, but much more highly decorated.

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Then we spotted a group of photographers focussed on an old lady smoking a cheroot. I think she must have had immense patience as one of them put his face very close to her’s and shouted at her to laugh; it was embarrassing to watch. She was interesting to look at, so I took a photograph from behind the pack and felt a twinge of guilt as I was not able to get her permission first.

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This lady was selling peanut candy, so we bought some of this. The locals are used to having their photo taken but I do feel happier about it if I can ask first.

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As we continued our walk, the buildings became predominantly stupas, not temples, and the density of stupas was quite unexpected. We werent even supposed to be visiting here today, but I did not want the 3-hour boat ride to the intended destination of Sagar. Inle Lake turned out to be rich in history and I am glad we came here.

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To get a better view of Shwe Indein Pagoda, we had a steep walk up a hill to another stupa, and a fabulous view out over the countryside.

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Then a long walk back down the processional route, and past all the market stalls.

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© Helen Gray 2020