The second largest lake in Myanmar is only 116km² in size and a mere 2m deep on the average. Some seventy thousand people lead their lives on these waters. After lunch in one of the lake side restaurants, we got on the boat to our lodge. The afternoon light was great for photography.

 

Serenity
NNavigaitng the calm water of Inle lake at sunset.
Sunset in the Lake
Sunset in Inle Lake, viewed from the boat on the way back to the hotel.
Boatman
A man on his boat in Inle lake.
Commuting
The only way to commute in Inle lake is by boat.
Window Dressing
A man in his longyi looking out his house window in Inle lake.
Inle Lake House
A house on stilts in Inle lake.
A Flock of Seagulls
A woman feeding a flock of seagulls escorting this boat in Inle lake.
Enjoying the Ride
Effie enjoying the afternoon boat ride in Inle lake.
Stilt House
A house on stilts in Inle lake.

 

Of course the main activity is fishing and we saw at least four dozens of fishermen throwing their nets. The first thing that strikes you is their unique rowing technique, by using their leg and applying an s-like motion to pull the row while the stand at the front of the boat. The other interesting thing is the way they beat the water to drive the fish to the nets. There is an older method, in which they use a cone-like net with a central stick, but very few people use it nowadays. Those that do, usually fake it to get some money from picture taking tourists, but I was lucky to see one guy actually using the method.

 

Will Pose for Money
A local fisherman-model in Inle lake making his living from passing photograhers instead from passing fish.
Leg Rowring
An Inle Lake fisherman rowing with the distictive leg push.
Fish Net
A fisherman in Inle lake throwing his net.
Inle Lake Fishing
Fisherman in Inle lake.
Inle Lake Fisherman
A fisherman in Inle lake.
Sunset Fishing
A fisherman in Inle lake beating the waters to drive the fish into his net.
Inle Lake Fisherman
A fisherman in Inle lake.
Sunset Fishing
A fisherman in Inle lake beating the waters to drive the fish into his net.
Sunset Fishing
A fisherman in Inle lake beating the waters to drive the fish into his net.
Sunset Fishing
Sunset fishing in Inle Lake.
Sunset Fishing
Sunset fishing in Inle Lake.
Fishing in Inle Lake
Fishermen in Inle lake in the efternoon light.
Inle Lake Fisherman
An Inle Lake fisherman rowing with the distictive leg push.
Sunset Fishing
A fisherman in Inle lake beating the waters to drive the fish into his net.

 

We also stopped to check the famous Inle floating gardens. To form a garden, “firstly, naturally occurring clumps of water hyacinth, “seagrass” and other lake debris are captured by the farmer and secured in position using bamboo poles. These are driven into the deep mud at the bottom of the lake, in areas of water between 1 and 5 metres deep. The newly created island is allowed to knit together, and grass is encouraged to grow on the surface. The grass is then cut, dried and finally burned to create a nutritious dressing of ash. More “sea-grass” is heaped on top, with a final layer of fine mud from the bottom of the lake. Eventually the mats become 1m thick with about a third of that above water level. They are very stable… Seed is planted in the fertile mud and the young plants are supported by bamboo canes. Depending on the season they are used for tomatoes, cucumbers, gourds and pulses, but are, unsurprisingly, not suitable for root vegetables.” (source and more on this interesting article here).

 

Girls Rowing
Two girls rowing by the floating gardens in Inle lake.
House on the Lake
A house with surrounded by floating gardens.
The Floating Gardens
The floating gardens in Inle lake.

 

Our lodge has floating rooms, built on poles so there is plenty of humidity. Fortunately the air conditioning provided enough heat as it got quite cold in the evening and the hotel restaurant was fortunately above average, as it was our only option for dinner.

The sunrise view from the room patio is serene as the first boats are crossing the calm waters and the resident seagulls are fishing in the shallow lake.

 

Lake Lodge.
Our lodge in Inle lake.
Sunrise in Inle
The view from the hotel bungalow in Inle late in the first daylight.
Take Off
A seagul in the morning light in Inle lake.
Sunrise in Inle
The view from the hotel bungalow in Inle late in the first daylight.

 

We spent the entire day circling the lake with out boat and local guide. First stop at the local market. The market is rotating daily along five different sites (Nyaungshwe, Heho, Taunggyi, Minethauk, Shwenyaung). Once floating, today is mostly on land as the waters have receded significantly.

 

Fish Merchant
A fish merchant in Inle lake.
Lady in the boat
A woman merchant in Inle lake's floating market.
Lake Women
Women of Inle lake going to the floating market.
Pao Woman
A woman of the Pao tribe in Inle lake.
Fish Gutting
A fish merchant gutting fish in the Inle market.
Smoking
A merchant woman smoking in the market of Inle lake.
Hungry
Breakfast in the Inle market.
Pao Woman
A Pao woman in the Inle market.
My Lovely Hat
A Pao woman in the market.

 

After the market we traveled upstream to go to the Shwe Inn Tain pagoda. On the way we crossed a number of small artificial dams, made of tree branches, with an opening in the middle to allow for the boats to cross. The dams create about one foot height difference in water level and raise the depth of the lake so that navigation is possible all year round.

 

Four Girls
Girls in their boat in Inle lake.
Lake Florists
Women preparing flowers in Inle lake.
Morning Wash
A man washing in Inle lake.
Working in the Lake
A bunch of men removing mud from the river bottom in Inle lake.

 

The Shwe Inn Tain Pagoda is a complex of 1000 temples, some more than 400 years old and most of them ruined by earthquakes. Some restoration works are underway, but most of temples in the periphery are badly damaged and overtaken by vegetation, adding to the drama of the place. The main temple surrounded by hundreds of stupas is in good condition but not so interesting as the ruins.

 

Pagoda Ruins
Pagoda ruins in Indein close to the Shwe Inn Tain pagoda.
Tree on Top
A tree engulfing a destroyed pagoda in Indein.
Need Restoration
Another runied pagoda in Indein.
Ruined Pagoda
A pagoda distroyed by earthquake in Indein.
Abandoned Buddha
A buddha image in one of the pagoda ruins in Indein, Inle lake.
Shwe Inn Tain
Pagodas in the Shwe Inn Tain complex in Indein.

 

Although there is a long corridor of souvenir shops on the way to the main entrance, there were not so many tourists around that day. Good for us, bad for the merchants I guess. On the way to the temples, we stopped in the village to watch a local football game on what would be a badly maintained potato field in any country of the developed world. Quite a game I should admit and the whole village was rooting for their team.

 

Footbal Game
A local football game between teams of the Shan state in Inle lake.
Tea Time
A woman drinking tea outside her house in Inle lake.
Watching the Game
A man watching the football game in Inle lake.
Working Woman
A woman carrying a stone on her head, working for a restoration team in Indein.

 

After a tasty dish of fried noodles at the Golden Moon restaurant, we visited the nearby artifact shop of the Padaung women. The women are better known as giraffe or long necked women because of the brass rings they use to elongate their necks. Some manage to reach up to 30 cm of neck length, which is actually an illusion as the human neck does not get any longer. It is the shoulders that are pushed down to create the effect. “Their own mythology explains that it is done to prevent tigers from biting them! Others have reported that it is done to make the women unattractive so they are less likely to be captured by slave traders. The most common explanation, though, is the opposite of this — that an extra-long neck is considered a sign of great beauty and wealth and that it will attract a better husband. Adultery, though, is said to be punished by removal of the rings. In this case, since the neck muscles will have been severely weakened by years of not supporting the neck, a woman must spend the rest of her life lying down” (source here).

 

National Heroes
Aung San Suu Kyi and her father, both treated a national heroes in Myanmar.
Kayan Woman
A long necked Kayan woman.
Lonk Necks
The long necked ladies of the Kayan tribe, in their artifact shop in Inle lake.
Want Bananas?
A lady selling banans in Inle lake.
Kayan Lady
A long necked Kayan woman.

 

Next stop at the Hpaung Daw U Pagoda, a significant religious local site and home of the 18-day annual festival. The pagoda houses five small gilded images of Buddha, which have been covered in gold leaf to the point that their original forms cannot be seen. During the festival “four of the Buddha images are placed on a replica of a royal barge designed as a hintha bird and taken throughout Inle Lake. One image always remains at the temple. The elaborately decorated barge is towed by several boats of leg-rowers rowing in unison, and other accompanying boats, making an impressive procession on the water. The barge is towed from village to village along the shores of the lake in clockwise fashion, and the four images reside at the main monastery in each village for the night.” (source wikipedia).

 

Gold Tinting
A monk applying a gold leaf on one of the five buddha images in the Phaung Daw Oo pagoda.
Pao Woman
A Pao woman in the Phaung Daw Oo pagoda.
Monk boat
A group of monks near the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda.
Hpaung Daw U Pagoda
The Hpaung Daw U pagoda in Inle lake.
Hpaung Daw U Pagoda
The interior of the Hpaung Daw U PAgoda with the 5 sacred Buddha images.

 

We continued our “cultural” visit to number of small factories: cigar making, silversmith and finally, silk and wool fabrication. Although these are interesting to see, they are targeted to the tourists and you feel obliged to buy something from the front shop in order to thank them for the tour. We did not, as the prices are extremely high, not to mention that the ambience of a sweat shop.

 

Drying Wool
Wool drying in Inle lake.
Inle Lake Village
A village on Inle lake.
Cigar Ladies
Women preparing local cigars in Inle lake.
Stilt House
A stilt house in Inle lake.
Working Woman
A woman working on the spinning wheel in the wool factory in Inle lake.
Hanging On
A little girl in the wool factory in Inle lake.
The Loom
A woman working on the loom in the wool factory in Inle lake.
Smiling
A woman smiling in the wool factory in Inle lake.
The Lady and the Wheel
A woman working on a spinning wheel in Inle lake.
Wool Dyeing
Preparing the dye to color the yarn.
Spinning Wheel
A woman using a spinning wheel to make yarn for the looms.

 

Last stop at thee  Nga Hpe Kyaung or Jumping Cat Monastery. A long time ago the resident cats were trained to jump and offer an impressive show to the pilgrims and visitors, but today they are just hanging out lazily. The wooden monastery is beautiful and is worth the visit though. On the way back, while traveling along the floating villages, we came across the day-end of a local school, with a myriad of boats that came to pick up the kids, all dressed in their white and green uniforms, back home.

 

Inle Girl
A girl driving a boat in Inle lake.
Life in Inle Lake
A man resting on his boat in Inle lake.
Inle Village
A village in Inle lake.
What?
A curious boy with his mother in Inle lake.
Stilt House
A stilt house in Inle lake.
Colors of Inle
A colorful house complex in Inle lake.
Inle Lake Village
A village on the Inle lake.
Traditional Fishing
One of the very few fishermen that still fishes with the traditional cone in Inle lake.
School Boat
Kids returning from school in Inle lake.
Going Home
Young boys returning from school in Inle lake.
The Captain
A young girl rowing back from school.
Grandma in Action
An elder lady going to pickup up the kids from school.
Sunny Afternoon
A speed boat in Inle lake in the afternoon light.

 

We woke up very early and started before dawn our return boat trip to Nyaungshwe. We were not prepared for such low temperatures and cold wind during the one hour ride, but I was happy. I was able to shoot some great pictures of the fishermen that were already out fishing in the morning mist.

 

Before Sunrise
Inle lake fishermen in action, just before sunrise.
Before Sunrise
Inle lake fishermen in action, just before sunrise.
Before Sunrise
Inle lake fishermen in action, just before sunrise.
Before Sunrise
Inle lake fishermen in action, just before sunrise.
Early Morning Fishing
Fishermen in Inle lake just before sunrise.

 

Next: Ngapali

Inle Lake