Burma – Myanmar # 14 Inle Lake Princess Resort

Inle lake Princess Resort is a special place right on the edge of a very peaceful arm of the lake. It was such a delightful place to just ‘be’ that I decided to forgo the next day of exploration in favour of a quiet day in the gardens of the hotel – and I had a massage!  So good.

View from Inle lake Princess Resort (P1100750

(P1100750 © JT of jtdytravels)

After long days of travel, this place offered peace and quiet.  It was somewhere just to have a lazy day!  David had time for a quiet walk with me before he set out on another day of exploring.

Individual cottages by the water (P1100822

(P1100822 © JT of jtdytravels)

Individual cottages are spread out along the waterfront. Ours was the very last cottage meaning that we were about a kilometre from the central area with reception and restaurant. But the walk was delightful with water on both sides of the long peninsular like dyke on which the cottages were built.

Cheerful lady gardeners  (P1020618

(P1020618 © DY of jtdytravels)

Along the way there was always someone to stop and chat to – even in sign language. We stopped to say thank you to these lady gardeners who make the gardens a delight. Their wheelbarrow was a wooden dray they pulled along with them.

The inner pond (P1020598

(P1020598 ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Some larger cottages are built over an inner pool that’s filled with waterlilies.

Water lily reflections (P1020973

(P1020973  © DY of jtdytravels)

There was no shortage of water lily reflection photo opportunities.

Beautiful water lilies (P1020978

(P1020978 ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Beautiful water lilies are like a magnet to a photographer.

The gardeners keep the lily pond in good condition, using one of the local dug out boats to negotiate the weeds.

The weeds were taken out and added to the field that lay between the hotel and the village.  In this way, arable land is added to the village fields.  A stand of corn was growing in the field while we were there.  All the vegetables we tasted were really very good.

(P1100768

(P1100768  ©   JT  of jtdytravels)

Cattle egrets found the newly added earth and weeds a good place to look for food.

Restaurant deck (P1100752

(P1100752 © JT of jtdytravels)

The deck of the restaurant was bedecked by flowers such bougainvillea in large pots.

Breakfast on the deck (P1100641

(P1100641 © JT of jtdytravels)

The long walk was rewarded by the pleasure of joining others to enjoy a delicious breakfast on the deck.

Watching a leg rower glide silently by (P1100776

(P1100776  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

The deck is a great place to watch boats go by and in the early morning the reflections were a delight.  No boats are permitted to use engines in this zone so it’s all very peaceful. This long tail boat was coming in to the hotel dock to pick up guests for a day out on the lake – hence the blue chairs.

A local dugout boat (P1100778

(P1100778  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

No engines, no noise on the local dugout boats – just ‘person power’.

There’s no rush or hurry for those using these boats.

This boat is bringing people who work at the hotel.  They come from the nearby village – no chairs for them.

Wood carved 'statues' (P1020952

(P1020952  ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The edge of the deck was decorated with a delightful array of wood carvings – something for which Burmese craftsmen in Mandalay are famous.

Another beautiful wooden carving (P1100784

(P1100784  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

Every few metres along the deck there’s another fascinating wood carving.

(P1020958

(P1020958  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

 This wooden lady in a hammock looks as relaxed as I felt.

(P1020986

(P1020986  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

The roofs were adorned with beautifully carved end pieces.

(P1100690

(P1100690  ©   JT of jtdytravels)

Back near our cottage, a bridge crosses the lily pond.

(P1100704

(P1100704  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

That bridge leads to the massage rooms. I did enjoy my massage later in the day.

(P1100692

(P1100692  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

In the pond beside our cottage I found this beautiful lily surrounded by air bubbles. Perhaps a frog was nearby.

(P1100724

(P1100724  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

I know there were frogs around. I heard them in the evenings and I found several clusters of eggs.

(P1100739

(P1100739  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

Next to our cottage was a rather romantic fairy tale cottage covered in purple /pink Bougainvillaea.

(P1100711

(P1100711  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

And finally – our cottage right at the end of the path.

(P1100628

(P1100628  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

The deck with its tranquil view was most welcoming for a rest before that massage.

It was such a wonderful, restful day.

(P1100735

(P1100735  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

Birds wandered around and foraged for food below the deck.

(P1100681

(P1100681  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

Our cottage had an outdoor shower area, the privacy walls painted with yet more waterlily motifs.

(P1020582

(P1020582    ©   DY of jtdytravels)

The bedroom, bamboo lined of course, was simple but very clean and comfortable.

(P1100608

(P1100608  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

Before dinner at night, we enjoyed a wine tasting in the “wine cave”.  A long boat formed the table. The ceiling was painted with murals and the walls were just clay with holes to hold the wine bottles.

(P1100615

(P1100615  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

The wine was kept cool in the walls of the “cave”.  A great idea.

(P1100614

(P1100614  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

These marionette puppets were used as decorations in the wine cave.  We’ll talk more of the importance of puppets in Burmese culture later, but these puppets are just decorative because they have golden faces instead of white as in the traditional “working puppets”.

(P1100627

(P1100627  ©  JT of jtdytravels)

And when we’d had a delicious dinner and wandered back to our room, there was the bed ready for us, draped in a mosquito net, even though we hadn’t seen any of those pesky little insects.  Still this is a malaria area so it was good not to take any risks.

And that was my day at the hotel. David’s day of exploring will be covered in the next episode of this armchair travelogue.

Jennie Thomas

for jtdytravels.com

All photographs © JT and DY of jtdytravels

Lake Nakuru 16 July 2012

Contrary to common expectation, there were no rampaging wild animals through the campsite to cause havoc or mayhem during the night. We had all slept, after a fashion! It takes a while to get used to lying on the ground with only thin soft foam mattress. But that’s camping in the wild.

Dawn rising! (P1090031 © DY of jtdytravels)

We were all up early at 05.45, well before day break for a quick cup of tea or coffee, some cereal and a banana before heading off on our first game drive of the day.

Baboons – mother is awake but not baby. (P1090050 © DY of jtdytravels)

Not far from the campsite we came across a troupe of baboons waking to the new day – their hair a halo in the early morning light. They were on fallen tree branches just a couple of feet off the track.  We spent some five or so minutes watching their antics before moving on.

A leopard – the most ellisive of the Big Five   ( P1090056   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

A very short distance further along the track we stopped quickly as a leopard crossed the track.  There is no forward vision from the truck so nobody other than the two in the cabin saw the big cat.  The driver did stop though.  The monkeys in the surrounding trees were putting up a loud song and dance emitting their alarm calls.  We waited.  And, sure enough, we spotted some movement in the bushes and a fleeting glimpse of the cat.  Then nothing for awhile, but then, a better look at the magnificent beast as it slowly walked away, this time completely disappearing into the undergrowth. What a treat, particularly for those on board who were on their first trip to Africa.  It took until my fourth trip to the continent to see a leopard and Ingwe said he would do 20-30 drives between spottings!

On our four hour circumnavigation of the lake we saw waterbuck, antelope, buffalo, giraffe, black and white rhino, jackal, hippo at a distance, and colobos monkeys, and they were a first for me.

A Black and White Colobus – difficult to spot in the trees. (P1090148 © DY of jtdytravels)

Colobus, with their distinct black and white colouring and long bushy tipped tail do stand out clearly in the trees …but only once they have moved so you can spot them. Those lovely long tails were almost their undoing. They were once highly prized by tribespeople as ‘fly whisks’! And their pelts were highly prized too as part of traditional costumes, as well as for rugs and mats.

A bull Buffalo gives us the eye. (P10900661 © DY of jtdytravels)

Buffalo are not animals to be messed about with!  They weigh-in at anywhere between 500 and 800 kgs and are reputed to have a temper that should not be aroused. When males ‘face-off’ in the rutting season, they interlock those massive horns and push each other in a trial of strength to find out just who is boss. The record length for a set of horns is more than 1.5m.

Cattle egret with grazing buffalo (P1090067 © Dy of jtdytravels)

Buffalo graze in the early morning, in the late afternoon and at night, so these were more interested in food than us. After feeding, they love to wallow in mud and there’s plenty by the lake for that. In the heat of the day, they sensibly lie in long grass or under trees to chew their cud.

The white bird beside several of the cows are cattle egrets. They get an easy feed by picking up insects disturbed by the movement of the buffaloes.  Another bird that’s often seen travelling with buffalo is the oxpecker or tick bird. They feed on ticks and biting flies and help to clean up wounds.  The buffalo put up with their presence even when these little birds try to get a feed inside the buffalo’s ear.

A rhino takes no notice  (P1090112   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Another big animal grazing in the early morning was this rhinoceros. Both black and white (or wide) Rhinoceros are endangered because of the market for just one part of their body – their horns. When poachers kill a rhino, they take the horns and run – or fly off in helicopters. It’s a lucrative business with rhino horn deemed to have almost supernatural powers in medicine in Asia and the far East – and horn being carved into the handles for daggers in places like Yemen where such daggers have been prized symbols of manhood. Armed guards monitor most of the rhinoceros ranges, at least in parks and reserves such as this one at Lake Nakuru.

Giraffe reaching up for tastiest shoots (P10900951 © DY of jtdytravels)

Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world today with males growing up to 5.5m (that’s 18ft) . That’s fairly common knowledge. But what is less widely known is that the giraffe’s improbably long neck has only seven neck vertebrae – the same as we humans have! And those necks can come in for a tough time when male giraffe’s try to establish dominance in the herd by ‘necking’ . Now, this is not to be confused with another human connotation of the word ‘necking’.  This is a ritualised form of fighting in which the opposing giraffes fight standing side by side and swing their long necks at each other’s bodies, often entwining necks.  That only happens when there’s a lady giraffe involved, of course. At other times that neck is used to reach up for the tenderest shoots and they can be 5 – 6 ms off the ground.

Rothschild’s Giraffe (P1090100 © DY of jtdytravels)

The giraffes we saw at Lake Nakuru were Rothschild’s Giraffes. They are paler, and have a less jagged pattern on their coats than the common Masai Giraffe and they usually have no patterning on their lower legs. There is a third type of giraffe, the Reticulated Giraffe, that’s found in northern Kenya. It has a deep reddish coat with irregular brick- like patterns seemingly ‘drawn’ onto them with narrow white lines.

Thomson’s Gazelle  (P1090064   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The beautiful Thomson’s Gazelle is the most water dependent of the African antelopes and so can usually be found in places like this by a lake or good water source.  Antelopes like these are the easy, fast food option, the ‘Macdonalds’ of the wildlife world in Africa. They are the prey of a whole lot of predators including lions. leopards, cheetahs, hunting dogs, crocodiles. The young may be taken by baboons, jackals, eagles and even python snakes.

An Impala (P1090060 © Dy of jtdytravels)

It is a hard world out there in the wild.  It’s not easy to think of beautiful animals like this Impala and the gentle gazelles as possible dinner for so many different types of predators. But it’s a fact of life in the wild.

A Black-backed Jackal   (P10901041 © DY of jtdytravels)

The black-backed Jackal, with its fox-like face and silvery black back, is the commonest of the three species of Jackal in East Africa. Although Jackal’s do kill smaller animals and the young of larger ones, they are very much opportunistic omnivores. Like hyenas, they are great carrion scavengers, but they also feed on birds, reptiles, insects, fruits, eggs and berries.

Apart from all of these animals, there were many birds sighted including pelican, marabou and yellow-billed storks, spoonbills, a buzzard, hamerkop and ostrich.  It was a very satisfying drive.

A Hamerkop   (P1090154   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The name Hamerkop comes from an Africaans word meaning ‘hammer head’ – an apt description. It looks a bit like a stork or a heron but it is not related to either of those. Many Africans are superstitious about this bird believing that, if harmed in any way, it will bring bad luck. And that’s probably been a bit of good luck for the Hamerkop. That way, it doesn’t end up on someone’s BBQ or in a hot pot!

Ostrich fluff their feathers   (P1090136   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Ostrich, on the other hand, are farmed in Africa for their meat, their eggs and their feathers.  But these two birds are safe in the National Park at Lake Nakuru. The male is the one with black feathers. He usually sits on the eggs at night. The female has feathers more the colour of dried grass to act as camouflage when it’s her turn to sit on the eggs in the day time. Although more than one female is likely to mate with the male and lay eggs in HIS nest, the ‘senior’ female helps with the hatching process.

Raptor in an African acacia   (P1090122   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

This magnificent eagle, resting in an African Acacia, may be a Steppe Eagle.

Acacia Trees ‘blooming’ with birds. (P1090108 © Dy of jtdytravels)

The view across the grasslands to the cliffs beyond the lake. The photo includes a couple of African Acacias that seem to be ‘blooming’ with white birds.

Yellow-billed Storks in Acacia trees (P1090105 © Dy of jtdytravels)

Thanks to my good Panasonic DMC-TZ 20 camera with its decent tele lens, I could see that the birds adorning the Acacia tree were the very gregarious, long legged, Yellow-billed Storks. These birds are easy to identify with their white bodies finished off with black wings and tails and their bare red faces sporting long yellow bills.

Marabou Storks, Pelicans and Gulls (P10900751 © DY of jtdytravels)

And down by the lake again there were yet more storks, the Marabou sharing the waters edge with some Pelicans and Gulls.  These Marabou should put their name in the ring for the prize of ugliest bird. Vultures could give them a run for their money, but these birds push ‘ugly’ to the limit!

Marabou Stork (P1090078 © DY of jtdytravels)

Here’s a Marabou up close – with a face only a mother could love. And it doesn’t even have the rather grotesque pendulous throat sac sported by some adults!  And another thing that is really quite off-putting about Marabous: that white colour on their legs is actually, dare I say it, ‘pooh’. Yes, to help keep themselves cool when it is hot, they defecate down their legs. Cool, eh?

Marabou Storks might be ugly, but they do perform an important function in the wild by cleaning up carrion and waste in the environment. However, marabous have increasingly become dependent on human garbage and these huge birds can be found around African rubbish dumps.

Now let us turn our minds from ugly storks to some of the finer things in life – flowering plants. Even on a long day out on safari drives, there is usually some opportunity to look for flowers.

A ‘stretch the legs’ stop! (P1090159 © DY of jtdytravels)

There comes a time when  legs must be stretched – a time when ladies disappear off to the left and men to the right!  And that gave me the perfect opportunity to hunt around for a flowering plant or two. I’m not sure what these are called but here they are.

Yellow roadside flower (P1090157 © DY of jtdytravels)

.

Purple roadside flower (P1090161 © DY of jtdytravels)

And there you have it – a day out on safari at Lake Nakuru National Park. If you have never had the opportunity to do such a safari drive, I hope you have enjoyed the experience with me. And if you have, I hope this has brought back many happy memories of being with wildlife.  D

Africa: Lake Nakuru 16 July 2012

Contrary to common expectation, there were no rampaging wild animals through the campsite to cause havoc or mayhem during the night. We had all slept, after a fashion! It takes a while to get used to lying on the ground with only thin soft foam mattress. But that’s camping in the wild.

Dawn rising! (P1090031 © DY of jtdytravels)

We were all up early at 05.45, well before day break for a quick cup of tea or coffee, some cereal and a banana before heading off on our first game drive of the day.

Baboons – mother is awake but not baby. (P1090050 © DY of jtdytravels)

Not far from the campsite we came across a troupe of baboons waking to the new day – their hair a halo in the early morning light. They were on fallen tree branches just a couple of feet off the track.  We spent some five or so minutes watching their antics before moving on.

A leopard – the most ellisive of the Big Five   ( P1090056   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

A very short distance further along the track we stopped quickly as a leopard crossed the track.  There is no forward vision from the truck so nobody other than the two in the cabin saw the big cat.  The driver did stop though.  The monkeys in the surrounding trees were putting up a loud song and dance emitting their alarm calls.  We waited.  And, sure enough, we spotted some movement in the bushes and a fleeting glimpse of the cat.  Then nothing for awhile, but then, a better look at the magnificent beast as it slowly walked away, this time completely disappearing into the undergrowth. What a treat, particularly for those on board who were on their first trip to Africa.  It took until my fourth trip to the continent to see a leopard and Ingwe said he would do 20-30 drives between spottings!

On our four hour circumnavigation of the lake we saw waterbuck, antelope, buffalo, giraffe, black and white rhino, jackal, hippo at a distance, and colobos monkeys, and they were a first for me.

A Black and White Colobus – difficult to spot in the trees. (P1090148 © DY of jtdytravels)

Colobus, with their distinct black and white colouring and long bushy tipped tail do stand out clearly in the trees …but only once they have moved so you can spot them. Those lovely long tails were almost their undoing. They were once highly prized by tribespeople as ‘fly whisks’! And their pelts were highly prized too as part of traditional costumes, as well as for rugs and mats.

A bull Buffalo gives us the eye. (P10900661 © DY of jtdytravels)

Buffalo are not animals to be messed about with!  They weigh-in at anywhere between 500 and 800 kgs and are reputed to have a temper that should not be aroused. When males ‘face-off’ in the rutting season, they interlock those massive horns and push each other in a trial of strength to find out just who is boss. The record length for a set of horns is more than 1.5m.

Cattle egret with grazing buffalo (P1090067 © Dy of jtdytravels)

Buffalo graze in the early morning, in the late afternoon and at night, so these were more interested in food than us. After feeding, they love to wallow in mud and there’s plenty by the lake for that. In the heat of the day, they sensibly lie in long grass or under trees to chew their cud.

The white bird beside several of the cows are cattle egrets. They get an easy feed by picking up insects disturbed by the movement of the buffaloes.  Another bird that’s often seen travelling with buffalo is the oxpecker or tick bird. They feed on ticks and biting flies and help to clean up wounds.  The buffalo put up with their presence even when these little birds try to get a feed inside the buffalo’s ear.

A rhino takes no notice  (P1090112   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Another big animal grazing in the early morning was this rhinoceros. Both black and white (or wide) Rhinoceros are endangered because of the market for just one part of their body – their horns. When poachers kill a rhino, they take the horns and run – or fly off in helicopters. It’s a lucrative business with rhino horn deemed to have almost supernatural powers in medicine in Asia and the far East – and horn being carved into the handles for daggers in places like Yemen where such daggers have been prized symbols of manhood. Armed guards monitor most of the rhinoceros ranges, at least in parks and reserves such as this one at Lake Nakuru.

Giraffe reaching up for tastiest shoots (P10900951 © DY of jtdytravels)

Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world today with males growing up to 5.5m (that’s 18ft) . That’s fairly common knowledge. But what is less widely known is that the giraffe’s improbably long neck has only seven neck vertebrae – the same as we humans have! And those necks can come in for a tough time when male giraffe’s try to establish dominance in the herd by ‘necking’ . Now, this is not to be confused with another human connotation of the word ‘necking’.  This is a ritualised form of fighting in which the opposing giraffes fight standing side by side and swing their long necks at each other’s bodies, often entwining necks.  That only happens when there’s a lady giraffe involved, of course. At other times that neck is used to reach up for the tenderest shoots and they can be 5 – 6 ms off the ground.

Rothschild’s Giraffe (P1090100 © DY of jtdytravels)

The giraffes we saw at Lake Nakuru were Rothschild’s Giraffes. They are paler, and have a less jagged pattern on their coats than the common Masai Giraffe and they usually have no patterning on their lower legs. There is a third type of giraffe, the Reticulated Giraffe, that’s found in northern Kenya. It has a deep reddish coat with irregular brick- like patterns seemingly ‘drawn’ onto them with narrow white lines.

Thomson’s Gazelle  (P1090064   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The beautiful Thomson’s Gazelle is the most water dependent of the African antelopes and so can usually be found in places like this by a lake or good water source.  Antelopes like these are the easy, fast food option, the ‘Macdonalds’ of the wildlife world in Africa. They are the prey of a whole lot of predators including lions. leopards, cheetahs, hunting dogs, crocodiles. The young may be taken by baboons, jackals, eagles and even python snakes.

An Impala (P1090060 © Dy of jtdytravels)

It is a hard world out there in the wild.  It’s not easy to think of beautiful animals like this Impala and the gentle gazelles as possible dinner for so many different types of predators. But it’s a fact of life in the wild.

A Black-backed Jackal   (P10901041 © DY of jtdytravels)

The black-backed Jackal, with its fox-like face and silvery black back, is the commonest of the three species of Jackal in East Africa. Although Jackal’s do kill smaller animals and the young of larger ones, they are very much opportunistic omnivores. Like hyenas, they are great carrion scavengers, but they also feed on birds, reptiles, insects, fruits, eggs and berries.

Apart from all of these animals, there were many birds sighted including pelican, marabou and yellow-billed storks, spoonbills, a buzzard, hamerkop and ostrich.  It was a very satisfying drive.

A Hamerkop   (P1090154   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

The name Hamerkop comes from an Africaans word meaning ‘hammer head’ – an apt description. It looks a bit like a stork or a heron but it is not related to either of those. Many Africans are superstitious about this bird believing that, if harmed in any way, it will bring bad luck. And that’s probably been a bit of good luck for the Hamerkop. That way, it doesn’t end up on someone’s BBQ or in a hot pot!

Ostrich fluff their feathers   (P1090136   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

Ostrich, on the other hand, are farmed in Africa for their meat, their eggs and their feathers.  But these two birds are safe in the National Park at Lake Nakuru. The male is the one with black feathers. He usually sits on the eggs at night. The female has feathers more the colour of dried grass to act as camouflage when it’s her turn to sit on the eggs in the day time. Although more than one female is likely to mate with the male and lay eggs in HIS nest, the ‘senior’ female helps with the hatching process.

Raptor in an African acacia   (P1090122   ©  DY of jtdytravels)

This magnificent eagle, resting in an African Acacia, may be a Steppe Eagle.

Acacia Trees ‘blooming’ with birds. (P1090108 © Dy of jtdytravels)

The view across the grasslands to the cliffs beyond the lake. The photo includes a couple of African Acacias that seem to be ‘blooming’ with white birds.

Yellow-billed Storks in Acacia trees (P1090105 © Dy of jtdytravels)

Thanks to my good Panasonic DMC-TZ 20 camera with its decent tele lens, I could see that the birds adorning the Acacia tree were the very gregarious, long legged, Yellow-billed Storks. These birds are easy to identify with their white bodies finished off with black wings and tails and their bare red faces sporting long yellow bills.

Marabou Storks, Pelicans and Gulls (P10900751 © DY of jtdytravels)

And down by the lake again there were yet more storks, the Marabou sharing the waters edge with some Pelicans and Gulls.  These Marabou should put their name in the ring for the prize of ugliest bird. Vultures could give them a run for their money, but these birds push ‘ugly’ to the limit!

Marabou Stork (P1090078 © DY of jtdytravels)

Here’s a Marabou up close – with a face only a mother could love. And it doesn’t even have the rather grotesque pendulous throat sac sported by some adults!  And another thing that is really quite off-putting about Marabous: that white colour on their legs is actually, dare I say it, ‘pooh’. Yes, to help keep themselves cool when it is hot, they defecate down their legs. Cool, eh?

Marabou Storks might be ugly, but they do perform an important function in the wild by cleaning up carrion and waste in the environment. However, marabous have increasingly become dependent on human garbage and these huge birds can be found around African rubbish dumps.

Now let us turn our minds from ugly storks to some of the finer things in life – flowering plants. Even on a long day out on safari drives, there is usually some opportunity to look for flowers.

A ‘stretch the legs’ stop! (P1090159 © DY of jtdytravels)

There comes a time when  legs must be stretched – a time when ladies disappear off to the left and men to the right!  And that gave me the perfect opportunity to hunt around for a flowering plant or two. I’m not sure what these are called but here they are.

Yellow roadside flower (P1090157 © DY of jtdytravels)

.

Purple roadside flower (P1090161 © DY of jtdytravels)

And there you have it – a day out on safari at Lake Nakuru National Park. If you have never had the opportunity to do such a safari drive, I hope you have enjoyed the experience with me. And if you have, I hope this has brought back many happy memories of being with wildlife.  D