Letters from Inle Lake

Mingalabar my friends!

This time – Inle Lake! On our way from Pindaya to the lake we stopped at family-owned workshops and got the chance to see how rice paper is made and how to create paper umbrellas or the process of drying leaves for hand-made cigars. It was such a unique experience and a great opportunity to document the process.

After a long ride through beautiful agricultural land dotted with light and dark green fields, reddish soil and yellow flower fields, we finally arrived to Inle Lake.

Our guide who had the tendency to skip some of the explanations and seemed a bit clueless at times, kept saying we would first arrive to the hotel for check-in and then start touring the lake. At around 2 PM, the van stopped at a back-alley of a small street where we could see some sort of a local restaurant. And off our luggage is carried out of the car to an unknown destination. Sari was yelling at me “Where the hell are they taking the suitcases?!” and I could see the panic slowly taken over her already delicate nerves (in hindsight, lunch time was long overdue, and I have learned long ago not to mess with her when she is famished). 

Well, after two minutes we understood it was not the back entrance to the hotel as Sari had initially thought (which explained her panic attack) but the gate-way to the lake. After a very long boat ride (with a few stops along the way) we arrived to paradise… bungalows in the shape of Noah’s Ark overlooking the peaceful lake. Finally a decent enough hotel for my sister  😉 

The lake is absolutely gorgeous. A huge fresh-water lake with floating villages and floating agricultural gardens surrounded by mountain scenery. This place can be described as the Venice of Myanmar. Whenever we crossed the lake people started waving at us, children and adults alike and when we waved back, they were all cheering. At some point I started feeling I had a pretty good idea how the Queen of England must feel.

boats near Inle Lake Market

There are many attractions around the lake but our highlights were visiting the Indein old village where old and renovated stupas (a stupa is a mound-like traditional Buddhist monument that contains holy relics) can be found. We also had a magical day that started with waking up at sunrise to find the local fishermen and ended at a sunset canoe ride in one of the local floating gardens.

Waking up before sunrise was not the easiest thing, especially after seeing how cloudy the sky was that morning. Nevertheless, we were lucky enough to encounter the most energetic Japanese photo-tour guide! After about 30 minutes of riding the boat we saw from afar a couple of fishermen’s boats near a floating house, excitedly we got closer and saw a group of Japanese photographers clicking their cameras as fast as they could while their teacher was busy directing the fishermen, demonstrating where to stand, how to stand, facial expressions etc. 

All while yelling, pointing and making grand gestures so they’d understand when to throw their baskets into the water and basically putting on a charade accompanied by shouts in Japanese. Of course we jumped on the chance to tag along… Now I know how some photographers get their best pictures, just hire someone and show him how to model for you.

We saw this group again later that day at Indein. Again we followed the shouts in Japanese and found the teacher guiding two young giggling girls how to pose for a “natural” shot of the Pa’O tribe.

Our guide tried to bribe them to come and “work” for us but knowing how territorial photographers can be when they are trying to get the best shot, I told her to just leave them alone. I can’t describe how special Indein is so just check out the picture.

XOXO

Maya

You can read about our adventures in Yangon, or go straight to Kyaing Tong travel story. If you are planning a trip to Myanmar, don’t forget to check out tips about what to know before your trip.

ancient stupas in inle lake

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Inle lake fisherman
Canoe boat amongst the floating crops of Inle Lake

2 thoughts on “Letters from Inle Lake”

  1. This looks amazing-floating villages and the lovely soft light on the water are all fodder for so many memories! This is an area I’m really curious about-and would certainly love a trip like this since I especially love seeking out unique accommodation

    1. Chasing Lenscapes

      Thank you Brooke, yes Myanmar is amazing and especially Inle Lake. There are so many great and unique things to do here and the atmosphere is wonderful. You should definitely pay a visit.

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