It was the images of the Intha fishermen who paddle with one leg that really got me excited about going to Myanmar.
When we decided to go to this far away place, what first drew me in was the chance to take an 8 day trip up the Ayeyarwady River on a Belmond river boat Orcaella. I love being on boats and think exploring a country by water is a great way to travel.
But when I discussed the plans with Heather, the travel specialist with Belmond, she suggested adding Inle Lake to the itinerary saying that it is a really special part of the world. Naturally I did a little research, coming across images like the ones I took and posted on this blog.
Pictures of the fishermen are used to “sell” Myanmar all over the world. They sure sold me. Understandably so. Their grace and agility in handling their boats keeping their hands free was quite something.I’m still marveling over those fishermen.
They stand on one leg on the gunnels of the long boats and paddle with the other leg in a graceful aquatic ballet that you really have to see to believe.
Inle Lake is the Shan State, a rolling hill country which is one of most idyllic corners of Burma. The shallow lake stretches for 11 miles.
It is home to 150,00 people, who cluster around the shore or live in the floating villages. The only one way to get to the villages is on long narrow boats.
We traveled around for a couple of days, visiting the villages, a cat sanctuary, an old wooden monastery and a glittering Golden Temple—all by boat. We visited historic stupas built more than a thousand years ago. Seeing people washing clothes or water buffalos in the river was not unusual.
The floating gardens are tacked to the lake bottom with bamboo poles. They can be moved. We saw villagers gathering mud and seaweed for fertilizing and enlarging the gardens from the lake.