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Myanmar: The Country of Many Faces IX – Lake Inle

Published: 10.9.2016

A night bus rides from Inle to Bagan. It departs at 6 p.m. and arrives to Nyaunshwe station at 4 a.m. on the following day. You can wait at the warm bus stop before it is light. Then go to the lake which is about 3 kilometers away. The sun shines on rice plantations. Burmese farmers work there dilligently submerged to their knees in water. It is quite a dangerous work on rice fields as a snake can bit workers.

working on rice fields

Sit into one of the restaurants around o have a breakfast. The best places are those crowded with locals - gets you good quality and prices. A true Burmese breakfast consists of tea with couple of spoons of condensed milk, and warm home-made fried donuts without filling. You won't need it there as they are delicious anyways.

Lake Inle

Lake Inle is 22 km long, 11 km wide. It is at 900 meters above sea level. The Shan mountain range rising to 2000 meters line its shores. The lake was included into protected nature area in 1985. There are many things to do at Lake Inle: fishing, veggies growing, irrigating the land, dish washing, laundry, bathing, daily hygiene of locals which are called "lake people". By lake people we mean the following ethnicities: Shan, Danu, Pa-O, and Kayah. These live around the lake.. Sewage is a large problem here. It is almost a miracle when you consider that locals do not suffer from cholera. Their bodies have developed sort of a "hippo skin" to adjust.

Lake Inle

Lake Inle Lake Inle

Lake area gets money from cigar production, timber boats, cloths, spinning threads which are taken from lotos stems. If you desire to see local manufacturing in motion than pay for a trip on a fifteen-meter boat. It takes you to many manufactures. Also, you will get among floating villages and on the open lake rich on plankton and birds.

floating village floating village

Also, make a trip to local villages. There are not many tourists who would like to take pictures of fishermen paddling with their legs. We set off early in the morning. A young Burmese guy gave us ride to a first turn behind the city to a dust road. The bumpy road is lined by banana trees with large red flower buds. We walked through the villages of May Haw Nan and Htat Hein. We treated us to water melon and cold tea.

prcházka vesnicí

A monk took care of us in the village of Htat Hein. He walked us through beautiful caves. He took his four-legged pet as his company. The monk explains that we will onl y follow the dog as caves are treaterous. We cannot go to the places where the dog doesnt go beacause there is no air. The cave nooks are sun lit from many angles. Bats live there. Their eyes observe us as they are hanging down from the ceiling.

a monk guiding us through the caves

There is Lwekin village about 2 kilometers from the cave. There we introduced ourselves to local English teacher. She told us about her affection to Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

children playing football village life

We found a field with sugar cane factory behind Lwekin village. The plant can grow up to 6 meters. Burmese farmers with roundish hats cut it on a machine. Areas with worse access are entered by workers with machetes. Sugar cane is mouled and juice coming from straw is remade to sugar. Moulded straws are used as fuel in boilers. Sugar cane is a fast source of energy. Take a straw, chew it and its sweet taste will be enough as if you ate dinner.

GPS: 20°33'56.9"N 96°53'55.3"E

Text and photos: Šárka Vacková

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