Getting to Indawgayi Lake.
Indawgyi lake is Myanmars largest lake and one of the largest in South East Asia, it is located in the northern state of Kachin. We came down from Myitkyina via train in the lowest class for 900 Kyats. The lower classes are obviously not as comfy as the upper but totally manageable. It took us about 5 hours to get to Hopin.
From Hopin there is a pick-up service that runs quite regularly. Know body really seemed to know exactly when or what time they operate. We just got approached by a man who took us to the pick-up point. To find it. If you’re looking at the train tracks with the station behind you, walk left down the tracks and you will come to a point where the road crosses. At that point you will see a huge tree on your left and that’s where all the pickups run from. If you just ask around people will point you in the right direction.
Getting a pick-up form Hopin to Lonton.
This pick-up ride is described in the Lonely Planet as an excruciating experience. Admittedly the roads are awful and the pickup isn’t comfy but its only about 3 – 5 hours of mild discomfort for such a stunning destination. (it took us 5 hours to get there and 3 hours to come back) The price for everyone is 4000 kyats ($4USD) this includes as much luggage as you want.
Where to stay at Indawgyi Lake.
The pickup arrived in Lonton and they stopped directly outside Inn Daw Ma Hai Guest House where the staff instantly helped us inside with our stuff. The guest house is located about 20 meters from the Lake. The veranda out the back is a great place to just relax and enjoy life.
This guest house is pretty basic but the staff are such wonderful people. The beds are 7000Kyats each so if you’re willing to share you will get a double bed for 7000Kyats a night. The rooms come with mosquito’s nets and are absolutely necessary. At this time the town only get about 3-4 hour of electricity a night but the pylons are all in place and Loton gets a full electric service in October 2014.
One favourite thing about this place has to be the fact that the sunrises directly in front of the veranda. You get to enjoy an overly sweet 3 in 1 coffee whilst the owner gives you different local food to try whilst the sun comes up.
What to do at Indawgyi Lake.
A small community based organization set up the Inn Chit Thu Tourism Group. They offer a number of services for tourist in the area such as;
Motorbikes – 10,000 Kyats for the day this does not include feul
Kayaks – 15,000Kayts for the day
Fishing trips – Price varies, we I was there they weren’t currently doing these trips
Boat Tours – 50,000 to do a full days river tour – You can have up to 8 people on the boat I believe
Boat Taxi – price depends on how far you go.
Bird Watching – price varies on what you do.
Bicycle rent – 8000 Kyats a day.
Motor biking around Indawgyi lake.
Be aware that the roads are in very bad condition so I would advise not doing this if you’re not confident on a bike. It’s very easy to navigate your way up to go see the Black Buddha and floating pagoda. I would recommend taking a photo of the map you see ever where – see below. This will help you know which village you’re in.
One highlight of the day had to be in Nyaungbin. We decided to have lunch there at a very local looking restaurant. They had a huge pile of samosa on display which was what got us in. We’d ordered a couple each and various other fired sacks. They young lady who worked there was talking with us and ended up teaching how to make samosas. Once we’d eaten up and make the decision to pay up and go they insisted it was all a present and refused our money and waved us on our way.
The second highlight of the day was we decided to bike north of Nyaungbin to see what was happening. The roads don’t last much longer after Nyaungbin and we were off-roading shortly after we left. We finally arrived at the north of the river where we met 3 young girls. They were fishing for small shrimp like creatures in the lakes reeds and invited us to come join. We spent a good 20 minutes swimming around in the midday heat speaking very little of each other’s languages before we had to set off again.
Kayaking around Indawgyi Lake.
Kayaks are rented at 15,000Kyats a day. The lake is gigantic and would be impossible to get around in one day. What we did was rent a boat taxi from Inn Chit Tourism Group for 15,000Kyats to get across to the other side of the lake – about 8 miles. To the small village of Hepu. We had a short walk around before we headed down to the village Hepa where we stopped for a coffee. From there we spent the next few hours head to Mamon Keing. Along the way we didn’t see a single sole. We spent a while swimming in the lake and just enjoying the silence. When we eventually arrived in Mamon Keing a young boy called us in to the ‘pier’ – a tree pushed in to the water. He took us to his family home where they treated us with unbelievable hospitality. They fed us a wide range of Myanmar food as we tried our best to communicate. At the end we offered to pay but they insisted it was a present and the young boy took us back to our Kayaks. We let him have a play around in one of the boats which he seemed to love before we set off again. When we arrived back to Lonton we were tired and extremely sun burnt.
Eating at Indawgyi Lake.
There are 2 restaurants in Lonton located about 30 meters down the road to the right from Inn Daw Ma Hai Guest House. The first place does a great noodle soup breakfast for 500 Kyats. Next door to that is the only place that you will get a cold beer. Then next door to that is the other restaurant which is best for dinner. They will let you take the cold beer from the shop and allow you to drink it with your meal in the restaurants.
Getting laundry done at Indawgyi Lake.
At this point I’d only done one hand wash during my time In Myanmar and with the serious heat that April brings I was long overdue for some fresh undies. I handed them pretty much my entire bag worth of cloths (which is a lot seeing as I just left Australia) In total it was 5000 Kyats to get everything cleaned (to a very high quality and folded).