On our 3rd full day in the Inle Lake area, we spent the day in Nyaungshwe. Thursday of the 5-day market cycle is Nyaungshwe day so after another great breakfast at the ViewPoint Lodge, we headed over the bridge and up the street a few blocks to the local market area. While we were on the lookout for anything interesting, we really didn’t need very much in the way of souvenirs but we did have a few things we were looking for.
First off, after 2-weeks in Myanmar, we had just about run through all of the “acceptable” U.S. currency we had brought with us. What was left had one crease too many or a smudge in the wrong spot and had been refused for exchange at one place or another. And when we had inquired at the hotel front desk that morning about paying our bill with a credit card, they advised that while they usually can accept credit card payments (with a small fee tacked on), they were having a problem with their connection with the bank and weren’t sure it would work when we were ready to check out the next day.
We knew the U.S. currency we had with us would be good as soon as we moved on to Thailand in a few days but it would make life easier for us if we had a little infusion of cash. On previous days, we had seen lots of banks in the market area so on our walk there; we were on the lookout for machines that might accept our U.S. issued bank cards.
Second on our list was to find a gift to take to our dinner that night hosted by Ma Su at the Queen’s Inn. From the very start of our trip to Myanmar, we had noticed that virtually every woman we had seen in every market all over the entire country did not leave the market without at least one bouquet of flowers so that was definitely something we wanted to take. And we also thought a nice bottle of wine from Red Mountain Estate, the well-respected local winery would be nice to take with us as well.
Finding the flowers was no problem at all. There were lots of flower venders; most set up on the street on the border of the market. Most of the flower vendors all have the same varieties so we found one we liked and waited our turn as several young nuns made their selections. When we found out the price was half a dollar per bunch, we bought 5 in a variety of colors to take with us and the vendor threw in another for free.
Finding the wine took a little more effort but with the help of directions from friendly merchants who didn’t sell the wine we were looking for, we eventually found a nice shiraz.
The day we visited the market itself was dark and damp. We spent about an hour walking down the narrow isles looking at food products and crafts but the best part of the market was to just be out among the local citizens going about their daily life with more color and flair than could be reasonably expected.
I am happy to report that upon leaving the market and starting our walk back to the hotel, we did find an ATM machine where we were able to withdraw cash from our U.S. based checking accounts.
That evening we made the short walk from the ViewPoint Lodge over to Queens Inn to meet Ma Su for perhaps our favorite meal of the entire trip. There is significantly more detail about that dinner on our Inle Lake Restaurant Page.