Inle Lake is one of the biggest draws for tourists in Myanmar. It’s a massive freshwater lake set in the hills of Shan State in Eastern Myanmar. Shallow (no more than 12 feet deep in the dry season) and with refreshingly clear water, it was a welcome change from the filthy rivers and irrigation ditches I’d seen so far. There are a lot of local tribes around the lake, the most notable being the Intha tribe with their easily recognizable leg rowing technique.
I planned on spending a few days here, but it was so difficult to find lodging that I only stayed one night. That didn’t stop me from chartering a small boat and a guide and exploring the lake for a day.
Being brought up next to a lake, I have a deep appreciation for all things ‘lakey’. Anything from trailing a hand in the spray to watching people land gleaming, wriggling fish is enough to put me in a happy place. Conveniently, there were ample opportunities for hand trailing and watching fish meet a grisly fate. All the ingredients for a perfect day.
Working the loom
Many of the villages were separated by narrow, winding waterways which multi-tasked as transportation between buildings/villages and irrigation for the many fields which have been built up from the lake. Meandering through these and seeing all the buildings perched precariously on stilts in the shallow water really impressed on me just how hard the people must have worked to mold the landscape into something livable. It’s quite impressive what people can do when they set their minds to it!
On the way back, my guide got one of the fishermen to come over so I could take some nice photos of him. Watching the dude balance on the back of his boat with one leg and work the oar with the other was pretty impressive. I had no doubt that if I attempted it I would end up taking a nice little plunge. Like many things, I’m sure there is a great deal of practice involved.
An Intha fisherman with his fish trap