Journey Three / Chapter 20

Inle Lake

February 2019

Remote Burmese lake full of charming stilt-house villages built on water and canoes as the only mean of transportation between them, hidden between the Shan Mountains in the Shan State.

While the mighty Irrawaddy river has been a major centre of life in Burma for centuries, and its various centres of civilisation like Mandalay, Bagan and Yangon are among the most visited by foreigners, there is a great charm in other bits of Burma, far away from the main river. And one of the most charming of these places is undoubtedly the spectacular Inle Lake, located in sparsely populated Shan Hills in an autonomous shan State in eastern Burma.

The lake-people of Inle lake have developed their unique way of life, quite unlike anywhere else. Their life is bound to the lake in everything. The lake is full of extraordinary villages build completely on the water. Stilthouses with gardens full of water plants group themselves into streets frequented by narrow rowboats. Temples, restaurants, post offices, pubs, everything is built on stilts. So it comes rather unsurprisingly that the best (and only) way to see the lake is to rent a boat with a driver - and go exploring!

The lake is rather crowded with other boats from the early morning, albeit all are just tiny narrow canoes - either rowed or motorised. In the early morning mostly fishermen dot the lakescape. They are using various unique local methods of fishing, while rowing with their legs wrapped around the row. Collectors of kelp and growers of Lotus and other water plants work among the fishermen. Central points of village industry are various unique workshops of silversmiths, handweavers and even tobacconists.

Every village has a buddhist temple full of monks and devotees. There are both dry-land markets and floating markets busting with life. And that's just the morning. Enjoy the whole day in this charming remote destination with us in the next Sine Termino chapter below.