Myanmar, Inle Lake – Traditional Fishermen, Floating Gardens, and "Asian Venice" – VIDEO
Inle Lake is situated in Burmese state of Shan east of Mandalay. You can get there either by bus or you can take a plane. The first option is much cheaper. However, even travelling from Mandalay the journey takes around 8 hours; and even more when traveling from Yangon. Travelling by plane is much more time efficient and the flight ticket's price can get even below 100 dollars.
If you are not in hurry, you can get here by local train. You transfer at Thazi station on the main rail track between Yangon and Mandalay. You are going to experience unforgettable vistas, interesting chats with people travelling with you on train. Notice, that the ride from Thazi takes 11 hours. I recommend to make a day off in Kalaw town which is on the route.
Were you interested in some adventure, you can leave Kalaw for Inle Lake. You can go there on foot with a guide. The trip takes three days across mountains, through jungles and get to very remote villages. Some are accessible only by walking or by motorbike. Many say that this was their best experience in Myanmar.
You can reach the lake from Nyaungshwe town, where majority of hotels are, on bike or on boat. Many holidaymakers taking boat set off at between 8 and 9 in the morning. Howeover, I recommend you to wake up early to see the sunrise at the lake. The boats are fast ones with seats for five people. Thus, it is no problem to arrange for partifcular time and route. If you are lazy to get there so early, wait for the sunset at least.
At the entrance at the lake, there usually is a fishermen with traditional net ready to be photographed. He expects money for it. Don't give him more than several hundreds of local currency, or a one dollar bill. If you arrive early in the morning, you will find many fishermen on the lake. They won't pay attention to you.
In addition, there are floating gardens - an interesting network allowing locals to grow vegetables (tomatoes, or cucumber) righ on the lake. It is better to arrive early in the morning. Because fog lays over the field and sun only slowly dries the morning dew.
There are quite a few workshops in the village. What you can see there is a cigar workshop, or silver smithery. It is only up to you which of them you will visit. If you were lucky, you will get inside some of the houses to see how to locals live. The best chance of somebody inviting you in is in villages located partially on the shore.
You will get a map with a mention of the Floating Market in Iwama village. However, the market is not floating and you can buy only souvenirs there. If you ask at the hotel, they tell you when the local market takes place. It is at different place every day.
Despite the fact that Inle Lake is the second most tourist-frequented place in the country it is still worth seeing. You will hardly see a similar network of village floating on water.
Text, photos, and video: Matouš Vinš
Music: Dexter Britain
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