Posted: Oct 2012

Free guides and downloads

“Slouching kittens, hidden (jumping) cats!”
By Martin Clarke, October 2012

We started as two; then met a fantastic couple called Pam and Sec on the way from the highway who were also going to hit the lake in the morning, making us four. And then by chance we bumped into Hillary (we’d met in Sapa, Vietnam some months before!) and a few friends making seven. A boat for four costs 20,000Ks so 25,000Ks for seven was not a bad deal. 

We agreed to a 6am start and there were a few boats out there already. We missed sun-rise on the lake itself but watching the start of the day at the jetty was an experience in itself. 

We were fortunate that we’d arrived in the region at the same time as Phaung Daw Oo Paya festival; a Buddhist festival during late September or early October depending upon the lunar calendar that sees Buddha images ferried around the lake aboard two gilded barges visiting each of the pagodas in the surrounding villages. The procession of boats started sometime around 7am, with some one-hundred

local males (man and boys) aboard each of one of some thirty barges that
led the way around the lake for the 
Buddhist barges. Some rowing, some just dancing and enjoy the festival. As well as the throng of tourists, there were hundreds of other small boats with the wives and daughters of the rowers. An amazing sight to see a hundred men rowing with their legs.

We followed along in the procession 
with all of the other boats, weaving through the local floating gardens and houses towards Alodaw Pauk Pagoda. At first I felt that we were intervening in a festival where we had no right to be; we should be observing rather than following, but the locals didn’t see it that way with the mums and youngsters waving from their windows or boats at the foreigners who’d travelled to join in their celebration. 

By 9am it was all but finished and we headed to our next tourist destination; the market at Nam Pam. We felt at first that we were unlucky to have taken to the lake on one of the two days when the market was based on land, rather than on the lake, but not so. An amazing array of sights, smells, sounds and colour!
A great place to buy those souvenirs if you want them, but it wasn’t just a tourist market. Oars, knives, rake heads, a barber and a dentist (hunt the dentist down if you go!) meant that it was as much a working market as a tourist site. We’d agreed to spend 45 minutes walking around the market, but could easily have spent longer. An absolute dream for a photographer, so make sure that your camera is charged!

It was now 10am and we’d been out 4 hours and we all felt that we’d had our $4.27 worth already!

As well as the popular tourist sites, the boats take you to the local businesses that operate on the lake. Though it’s mostly really a shopping spree, they do show you how things are made. The first stop was the lotus shop where they showed us how they used the stalks to make thread, which in turn they used to make an entire array of garments and bags using traditional methods. From there to a cheroot shop where the girls rolled the cheroots, which are local cigars rolled inside a tobacco leaf, with amazing dexterity and nimbleness. And at 100Ks ($0.12) a cheroot, they make a great gift for someone back home.

Our boat then took us on to a restaurant near Phaung Daw Oo Paya. Most of the group sat down for lunch but we decided to walk around and enjoy some of the local street dishes instead. The mini-pancakes are delicious (something like a crumpet covered in butter) and  the quail egg ones were fantastic.

After lunch we were feeling pretty flagged as a group. That much so that I decided to have a 5-minute snooze on the boat as the others walked around a gold/ silver-smiths shop. I felt a little guilty but when we arrived at a shop where they demonstrated making paper by pounding bark to pulp, Sec also decided a 5-minute snooze would also be a great idea! Our last shop’s attraction had several ladies from the Padaung tribe where they wear a  brass loop around their neck giving the impression that they have longer necks. 

We all agreed that it was about time to call it a day as by now everyone was flagging. The ever organised Pam picked our last two destinations; the floating gardens and the jumping-cat monastery. 

The gardens, though we didn’t really realise it, were all around us. Literally floating strips of land with tomatoes, aubergines, cucumber and other vegetables. Great to see someone harvesting the vegetables by boat (when we got back to town, we managed to photograph barges that were overflowing with baskets of tomatoes). 

We finished off with the “jumping cats” at the Nga Hpe Kyaung (monastery). Our travel guide described how the resident monks had trained the cats on their floating monastery to leap through hoops in between scripture recitals. As with much from our guidebook, things had changed; the monks had stopped this form of entertainment because of the number of tourists that arrived on a daily basis, thus preventing them from meditating. Not that we could blame them, or the cats. We were so flagged we could all have snuggled up next to one of the many cats in the sun and snooze. 

“Home James” we told the boatman, but even then the amazing sites of the lake were not over. As we left the monastery and entered the main lake we were met by a group of locals singing and dancing to drum and cymbal beat. I’d struggled to stand up on our narrow boat earlie

 to dance to the beat, so not to be outdone I did the same; much to the delight of the locals. We didn’t last long though, as one small wave rocked the boat we took to our seats before we fell overboard. r to take a photograph, but these guys were dancing away. Pam jumped up in front of me and started

Our stops were to pause and photograph some of the many net fishermen. An amazing feat; they balance on one leg as they row with the other and collect in their nets in with their hands. A great way to finish our day on the lake.  

At 3pm there were still people coming out on the lake, but in my opinion they missed the better part of the day.

As I conclude this blog I have a mischievous smile on my face; the noise on the roof tells me that all of those people who decided to head out late to the lake are now getting wet :-)

If you get to read this; many thanks to Pam and Sek, Hillary, Yumie, Heather and of course my partner Wendy for a most memorable day out.
   Follow us on Twitter or via our page on 

  • Myanmar: The true land of smiles?

    Powered by Noodles

    "Trip report March 2013" 
    Chelsea & Laim
     give us a factual report on Myanmar. Read there blog for the finer points and this report if you want the hard facts. Great report. [more]

    Time Travel Turtle
    "An unexpected journey to Twante"
    Michael Turtle 
    is a journalist turned traveller; and it is clear in his writing. One of the best travel bloggers we've ever read. [more]

    Pia Regan
    "Teaching English in Lasio"
    Pia really gives some inspiration to get off of the beaten path and to just get stuck in and help where you can. Thanks to Pia for allowing us to re-publish this blog. [more]


    Cycling in Inle

    "A return trip to Inle" 
    Daniel Fisher returns to Inle to take to the bike and investigate the local temples, vineyard and villages. [more]


    Back again!
    "Travellers report February 2013"

    Martin Clarke's second trip to Myanmar in 6 months and once again we're getting hard facts with a few opinions. Useful and solid information. [more]


    Honeymooning in Myanmar?
    "Travellers report February 2013"
    We weren't at the wedding but we're really pleased that we could help with their honeymoon planing. Thanks for the report. [more]










    Yangon City Calling!

    "Visiting Yangon but not the temples?"

    Wendy Merrett reflects on visiting Yangon again but without visiting the temples? [more]


    Maing Thuak Orphanage
    "Exploring the countryside of Nyaunghswe" 
    Steve Lyons takes a cycle ride of off the beaten track to visit an orphanage. [more]


    18 Days

    "A travellers report"
    Suzanna Clarke shares her 18 days of solo travel with us from December 2012.[more]









    Biking in Bago

    "A day trip from Yangon to cycle around Bago."

    Daniel Fishers's first proper blog took that many hits we managed to talk him into writing another one for us.

    City Maps
    The map for Bago follows the route described above for cycling. And now the "map man" is back from Myanmar all of our others will be updated soon.

    To go or not to go? 

    "Myanmar, or Burma as it's known in old money"

    Wendy Merrett writes about her thoughts about visiting Myanmar with the current political wranglings that
    pose a question for us all.


    Inle Lake, Myanmar 

    "Slouching kittens, Hidden (jumping) cats"

    Join Martin Clarke and friends as they take to the waters of Inle Lake for a day of fisherman, gardens, temples and some lazy cats... [more]

    Must see!

    Want to see the world through someone else's eyes, or at least their lens? Check out our Must see! pictures of Myanmar. [more]

    Trekking from Kalaw to Inle.

    "4 non-blondes on the way to Inle”

    Ruby Hood decides to walk to Inle rather than taking the bus? Two days and one night... [more]


    Posted 23 Jul 2013, 18:21 by Elli Murr
Showing posts 1 - 1 of 1. View more »
  • Myanmar Charities: The Leaping Lemur Group
    There are no charges for receiving information on this site, because this is about sharing the latest information and not making money. That said, please take the time to look at some of the charities that we've highlighted beneath, and if you want to "pay" for the information you've downloaded, then look into some of these worthy causes.
    Elli xx

    The Burma Children’s Fund supports orphanages and pre-schools in various parts of Burma in order to provide shelter, health care and education for orphans and children. We will only support orphanages, clinics and pre-schools for infants and younger children where we know that the staff are dedicated and that the money they receive is spent on the children and for the direct benefit of the children. Children in Burma cannot control their own destiny and this is why our goal is “To Support their Future". [more] 

    Burma Campaign UK
     works for human rights, democracy and development in Burma.Burma Campaign UK is one of the leading Burma campaign organisations in the world. We play a leading role in raising awareness about the situation in Burma, and pressuring the international community to take action in support of the people of Burma. Founded in 1991, Burma Campaign UK is one of the leading Burma campaign organisations in the world. We play a leading role in raising awareness about the situation in Burma,  and pressuring the international community to take action in support of the people of Burma. [more]

     works with marginalised urban children and youth, their families and communities to become productive, independent citizens of their country. We do this by listening to and being guided by those who matter the most to us - the children and youth we work with everyday. Friends-International has been assisting marginalized urban children and youth across the world since 1994. We now run and support projects for these children and their families in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Honduras, Mexico, Egypt and Myanmar. Friends-International and its partners reach out to over 50,000 marginalised young people -particularly street children and youth – each year. We offer a range of comprehensive services as part of our holistic approach to assisting children and their families to improve their lives. [more]
    Compassionate Hands is a home-grown charity, founded by Snow Aye after the cyclone Nargis struck the southern delta region of Myanmar on 2nd May 2008. Since the start of Compassionate Hands, many people have volunteered to help realise various projects, ranging from emergency relief efforts after the Cyclone, to digging wells and helping children with AIDS. Many volunteers are from Myanmar itself, but also foreigners from other Asian countries, the United States and Europe are involved.... [more]
    Posted 27 Jun 2013, 20:17 by Elli Murr
Showing posts 1 - 1 of 1. View more »
  • A sample from our facebook page. Follow us for regular updates.

    Garden of Reflection,
    Chiang Mai, Thailand:
    There is no glory for a lazy person however good looking

    Krabi Thailand:

    Solitude and silent reflection seems to be moving with the times

    Almost Famous,
    Pai, Thailand:

    Toilet humour, bar humour and a great quiz.
    Posted 26 Jun 2013, 21:11 by Elli Murr
Showing posts 1 - 1 of 1. View more »

Focus Charity
Popular City Guides 
Popular Blogs
Recent Trip Reports

Travel Guides

Over 1,000 downloads of "A travellers Guide to Myanmar". 
We've had over 27,000 hits in just 7 months! For some, that's nothing, for the charities we support, approx. 2% of our visitors visit on.Which means all of our hard work is worth it. 

Thanks if you've visited one of  the many charities that we promote.

We're always working on our next update for Myanmar, but also busy writing for Thailand, Malaysia and getting ready to hit Cambodia! Can you help? 

Free guides and 

Definition of Charity: 
"Generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy and suffering"

This is all about giving something back to the people of the countries that we've visited, to thank them for the wonderful experiences that we've had. There are no charges for receiving information on this site, because this is about sharing the latest information and not making money. You'll also note, there are no pop-ups or sponsored links to businesses. So, please take the time to look at some of the charities that we've highlighted on our charities page, and if you want to "pay" for the information you've received, then look into some of these worthy causes. Otherwise we'd gladly accept any support to help keep this site alive.

You will be directed to an Email window. 
If not, then email: volunteer@

Share a comment?


My Charity - An apple from the teacher?

Okay,so it's not a proper charity, but when you're travelling around the world and especially if you are heading into impoverished areas, then consider what fruit is available to the local children on a regular basis (like banana's etc) and what isn't (dragon fruit?) and then buy the latter! I've some amazing pictures of a group of kids that have red-dragon fruit juice all around their cheeks from a few fruit that I carried along on a trip with me. It was low cost, environmentally friendly and I got some of the best pictures in the world! And I had some of the fuit as well, so thanks to Wendy for taking the pictures! :-)
Martin Clarke