Indigenous Artisans, Floating Gardens, Long Neck People
Lake Inle (or how the Burmese say, Inle Lake) in the Shan state is the second largest lake in Myanmar, largest being Indawgyi Lake in Kachin State.
We started our trip from the town of Nyaungshwe on a narrow-boat, which is a long-tail-boat, passengers sitting in single file, all facing front. The sound of the old motors on these boats is deafening even for the loudest biker, with hardly anything to dampen the noise of the engine.
The scenery however is serene as soon as you exit the long canal leading to the lake. The first things you see are the fishermen, who show off their skills in the hope of a tip from the tourists passing. These fishermen paddle in a unique way, standing on one foot and using the other foot to paddle. They keep one end of the oar under one arm and use one leg to paddle.
There are some 70.000 Intha-people of different origins and tribes living on the lake. All tribes have different skills – fishermen, blacksmiths, silversmiths, boat makers, silk weavers, cigarrette rollers,…
Naturally there is a very large Hpaung Daw U Pagoda with golden buddha statues, which today are just lumps of gold as people have for years attached leaf-gold on the statues. These statues a paraded on a special boat each October around the lake in huge festivities. Even boat engines are not allowed to be used that time.
Floating gardens produce 90% tomatoe, the rest being beans, cucumbers, flowers, and gourds. According to our guide, Inle Lake gardens produce some 60% of the tomatoe used in Myanmar.
The sticks in the floating gardens hold tomatoes upright and also keep the gardens from floating away!
The Long Neck decoration has also a history from the time when the people were not at Inle Lake – they are not indigenous for the area. The decoration was protection agains tigers! Tigers attack legs and neck – hence protection around the neck and legs/knees!
Inle lake should not be missed if you head this way. A wonderful day out!
Time for a swim at the end of the day