Insights at Inle

Insights at Inle

Who: Singaporean Mark Richards, 39, is group executive chef of the Caerus Holding restaurants, which include Nuvo, Procacci, Lady M Confections and Ujong @ Raffles.

Favourite destination: Shan state, Myanmar

Why: I like it because of the clean, crisp and cool air. The people there are friendly, caring and honest. I have been there once a year for the past two years as it is my wife's home state.

Favourite hotel

ViewPoint Lodge & Fine Cuisines (www.inleviewpoint.com; tel: +95(0)8120-9062) in Nyaungshwe, Myanmar, where my wife, Nang Hsaddan Phyu, and I spent our honeymoon. The hotel has clean facilities and its decor is traditional yet has a modern feel.

Its 20 stilt cottages are located on a canal near the tranquil Inle Lake, a must-visit for any tourist to Shan.

Favourite restaurant

The Golden Kite Restaurant in Taunggyi (Yone Gyi and Myawaddy Road, Taunggyi). It serves Burmese and Italian food and this is the only local restaurant in the area that has European-influenced dishes on the menu, which is good because it gives you some variety.

My favourite dishes there are the stuffed lake butterfish and pizza. A meal would cost about $15 for three people.

Favourite tourist site

Inle Lake. It is serene, beautiful and picturesque. The journey through the lake is breathtaking and the view, magnificent.

Must-try dishes

To fully immerse yourself and understand the country's culture, one must explore the local streets and shop at the wet markets to taste the best and authentic Myanmar flavours.

Try the tea leaf salad called lahpet thoke. It is made of tea leaves that are marinated in garlic and chilli oil and tossed with tomato, fried beans and cabbage.

Shan-style tofu noodles is a savoury dish that doesn't actually include tofu. It is a thick porridge made from chickpea flour that is served over thin rice noodles with chunks of marinated chicken or pork. The dish is topped with a drizzle of chilli oil and served with sides of pickled veggies and broth.

My favourite dish is mohinga. It is a robust, savoury and hearty rice noodle and catfish soup. It is available throughout the day, but it's usually eaten for breakfast. I prefer the homemade versions, but you can easily find all these dishes in local coffee shops and wet markets.

Best view

Visit the Shwe Phone Pwint Pagoda, which is at the top of Taunggyi mountain. It offers a fantastic view of the sunset.

Event to bookmark

Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival which is held around October and November. In Shan state, particularly in Taunggyi, hot air balloons are lit with candles and released to celebrate the full moon.

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