Inle Lake is a very beautiful, tranquil and special place to visit in Burma or Myanmar. There are many hotels on the lake, maybe the best Myanmar has to offer. We stayed at the Inle lakeResort and Spa. It was off season and we were almost alone in a big resort and spa, so the prices were discounted for massages, which is always a big plus.
Even in the off season, there is a lot to see. Of course everywhere you go,you go by boat.
The lake area supports about 70,000 people. Many of them are fishermen. They fish in an unusual manner.
The fishermen stand in their small canoes and row with their feet. They are very stable as they throw and retrieve the nets. This guy was so good he was even able to smoke while doing this feat.
The crucial element of this talent is using the toes properly.
These guys are collecting the weeds growing in the lake for use as fertilizer.
Every year in September/October there is a three week event called Hpaung Daw U Festival.
Included in this festival are races between villages in foot paddled boats. Also during this festival the Royal Barge is brought out of storage and sailed from village to village.
This is a big deal to the inhabitants of the villages around the lake. The journey of the barge takes up almost the entire three weeks. Each town turns out their best as the barge visits them.
One year, a tragedy struck. A storm hit the lake and the barge sank. The real tragedy was that when this barge does the tour, it carries five Buddhas encrusted with gold leaf. Only four were recovered right away, the fifth turned up in a fishing net years later. This is a photo of a painting in a temple alongside the lake depicting the tragedy.
This is a memorial in the lake to mark the spot where the barge sank.
Buddhas encrusted with gold leaf? Yup. In fact there is so much gold on these things they look more like a lump of mashed potatoes than Buddhas. Here I am adding to the treasure and having a spiritual moment.
There are numerous villages on the lake. Each one has a different industrious specialty.
In this village, they rolled cheroots and cigars.
In this village they had the Temple of Jumping Cats. The cats were trained by a monk to jump through a hoop. The monk is long dead, but the tradition survives. I canot get my cat to jump off the couch, so I am amazed by this. Of course I am easily amazed.
In between two villages was a beautiful, very large sanctuary dedicated to the restoration of the Burmese cat to Burma. About ten years ago a wealthy man found out there were no more Burmese cats in Burma. So he went all over the world to find pure bred Burmese cats. They have a playground better than most grammar schools, a huge house to roam. They breed here, but they do not sell the cats. So if you want to see a Burmese cat in Burma, this is the place
Another village is dedicated to weaving lotus stalks into cloth. This is how they extract the fiber from the stalk. The emphasis is on quality not quantity. It takes many man hours (woman hours really) to get enough fiber to weave.
Weaving lotus cloth is much more complicated than cotton or silk, because the strands they have to work with are quite short and must be tied together.
Mary Ann owns more scarfs than I ever owned Grateful Dead T shirts, so I knew she would buy one. All those woman hours do not come cheap, and I imagine the village ate well for a few days after we left.
There were villages dedicated to silver work, paper making and aqua culture. We visited them all.
There are five community market towns surrounding the lake. The market moves from town to town every day. This is the parking lot where we went.
On the way we passed this vendor taking his baskets to market.
Because we were just visitors we had to park a ways away and use this bridge to cross the water to get to the market town.
It was a long walk from the water to the town. We saw many people who had shopped early returning home.
Look closely, you will see my wife “inspecting” a load of bamboo floor mats heading to market.
Traditional clothes are still worn, especially by the women. The Burmese know hats!
Nuts and such for sale.
Spices. What did I say about hats?
If you ever go to Burma or Myanmar, be sure to go to Inle. When you do, be sure to see the lost temples.
There is one area on the lake where (in relative terms) they recently discovered hundreds of small temples that the jungle had consumed. Most of them are visible now, and some are restored. It is a great place for a walk.
One more quirky thing to show you.
Whenever you leave the main body of water to go near a village or a lodge, you must go over a speed bump! I have never seen a speed bump on water before.
All good things must come to an end.
That is it for Inle. Thanks for reading please hit share to send this to all your close friends on FB, and if you get truly adventurous, make a comment.