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WeekendEscapes–ShWe Inn Tha

Shwe Inn Tha An Entire World Away

Matthew Crompton gets caught in the magical beauty of Burma’s Inle Lake and the quiet remoteness of Shwe Inn Tha.

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here’s an old adage about travel that just getting there is half the fun, and the Shwe Inn Tha Floating Resort, hidden amongst the reeds on Burma’s gorgeous Inle Lake, proves that point spectacularly.

Descending Dusk
My travelling companion, Dileeni, and I arrived at the service town of Nyaungshwe, in the south of Burma’s large and picturesque Shan State, just as dusk fell over the lake. As we blasted across the wide body of water for the hour long journey, the light turned from the pink and orange of sunset to cobalt and mauve in the twilight. After a gorgeous ride, Shwe Inn Tha emerged from around a bend in the channel as night became complete, the glowing lights of the stilt-cottages and elevated plank walkways reflected like lanterns in the water. “Oh, wow,” Dileeni said. “Wow.” Indeed, there’s little about this hotel that doesn’t inspire a sparkle of fairytale wonder. Khin Sandar Pyi Winn greeted us at the dock with glasses of chilled juice then showed us to our room, a deluxe bungalow in natural wood décor, with a wall of large windows and a private porch looking east. Though there were small villages on the mainland, a short distance away, the resort had a delicious, end-of-the-world feel, a sensation accentuated when I used the delightful outdoor shower, looking up at the full moon in the night time breeze.

Nyaungshwe – quickly became a favourite part of the visit. Meals were served in the large dining room, which was similarly decorated in a natural décor with traditional Burmese touches in carved wood. The complimentary breakfast, with toast, egg, sausage and fresh fruit was reliably satisfying, and the coffee surprisingly excellent, though lunch and dinner options from the broad menu were merely okay, perhaps my only quibble with the resort.

Cocktails by the Pool
In the afternoons, after our excursions, we took to lounging by the swimming pool, a welcome feature in the hot tropical days, and one that Shwe Inn Tha alone amongst the lake’s “floating hotels” possesses. Cocktails and complimentary snacks for this lounging were handily furnished by the bar staff, who were unfailingly attentive. Indeed, service was a major high point of our stay, with staff greeting us warmly, keys in hand, each time we returned to the hotel. They were always eager to provide information or assistance – whether in making up our room while we had breakfast, arranging transportation up the lake, or recommending daytime activities, quick to share what they loved about what is arguably Burma’s loveliest tourist destination.

Quiet Remoteness
The resort, Sandar told me the next morning, saw about 5000 guests a year, mostly in the high season of September to December, and was appropriately quiet for our July visit. Internet addicts (it’s there, but slow!) and connection-junkies might find Shwe Inn Tha’s remoteness off-putting, but I found the resort idyllic, and the daily trips up and down the lake – for excursions hiking in the surrounding mountains, or poking through the markets in

Explore on Foot
Sandar, for example, advised us to skip the touristy boat tours through the craft workshops, and to explore the area around the tiny village of Inthein on foot instead. “It’s so different from just sitting on a boat, and you get to see wonderful things on your own, can explore the fields or find hidden pagodas.” On our final morning at the resort, the staff thanked us and said goodbye, and we climbed into the boat a final time for the trip up the lake. As we watched Shwe Inn Tha disappearing in the distance, it was like the breaking of a spell, returning to a reality that had seemed, for a few short days, an entire world away.
Shwe Inn Tha Floating Hotel T: + 95-1-543714, 552838 F: + 95-1-543714 Email: sales@inlefloatingresort.com shweinntha@myanmar.com.mm shweinntha@gmail.com www.inlefloatingresort.com
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