Myanmar’s Inle Lake Hidden Treasures
Vast and beautiful, Inle Lake stretches some 9 miles in length and 4 miles in breadth. It is here that you will find the unique “leg rowers” who, while standing atop their longboat, wrap the lower leg around the oar and paddle both passenger and product to the innumerable floating villages and colorful markets. Their expertise is highlighted when out fishing the lake with their woven baskets, delicately lowered into the waters all while balancing on their narrow water craft.
One such hidden treasure is reached by private launch, which glides you across the waters to the western shore of the lake to discover the beauty of the discreet Indein Pagoda. Follow a stair path leading to one of the most amazing sights on the lakeshore, consisting of hundreds of small stupas laced with overgrown moss and vegetation. Return to your watercraft and have your boatman take an easy pace along one of the many creeks, passing by rice paddies and cropland to the village of Sae Mae. Here you will have a first hand look at village life in one of the more remote regions of Burma. On your boat ride back across the lake, ask your boatman to stop by a local monastery to observe some of their daily rituals, which in this remote lake setting will become one of the many highlights of your journey to Inle.
Another worthwhile excursion across the lake brings you to the eastern shore and into the heart of the breadbasket for Inle. The inhabitants of this village are Inn Tha and Pa O ethnic minority groups, both well known for their organic farming skills. The major crops of rice, potatoes, garlic and a variety of vegetables are produced during the summer with sugar cane being the winter crop. The cane is harvested and transferred into the cities to be made into molasses and rum. Follow the agro trail that leads from the lake and winds through the village, curving once again back to the lake. Your visit will afford you the opportunity to mix with the populace and gain a further insight into the various minority groups in Upper-Burma.
Myanmar (Burma) has recently opened its doors to international tourism on a wide scale and although making entry into the country easy by comparison to former years, the influx of trade and tourism will have its affect on what for so many years was a cloistered society, and ultimately alter much of what was a hidden land, seen by only a relatively few adventurous travelers.
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