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The journey to explore Inle Lake Myanmar

Posted By : Threeland Travel / Myanmar Travel Guide

Myanmar has borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand with an area of about 678,500 km2 and was once a British colony. Myanmar has a good climate with about 49% of the country covered by forests and many large lakes. Inle is one of Myanmar's two largest lakes, famous for its biodiversity, especially with many species of birds and fish.

Inle Lake's information

Inle is about 600km from Yangon with an area of about 220 km2 and located at an altitude of about 889m above sea level. Inle belongs to Shan state and is located about 40km from the state capital, Taung-Kyi city. This is the largest state among the 14 states and administrative divisions of Myanmar. Shan borders 3 provinces of Thailand, 2 provinces of Laos with a natural border of the Mekong River and borders Yunnan province of China. Shan is also the name of the vast Shan plateau from the middle of eastern Myanmar to northwestern Thailand with an average altitude of about 1000m, a surface divided by deep rivers and a series of mountain ranges more than 2000m. The Shan plateau part of Myanmar has beautiful scenery, mild climate, warm sunny days, cold nights. This is also the largest potato producing area in the country.

From Bagan, after about 7 hours by night bus, you can reach Inle at dawn. The pink rays are glowing from far away behind the mountain, the rays of light are pouring back into the sky, signaling a brilliant dawn. Inle, also known as Inlay in Myanmar, means big lake. On a small boat, gliding on the water through the night towards the light with a gentle cold and extremely refreshing fresh air. Visitors can completely relax while quietly admiring the landscape unfolding before their eyes, enjoying the feelings of a new day on the lake in their own way. Inle is inhabited by the Inthar people, Inthar means "people living on the lake".

To suit the natural conditions, the Inthar people built their houses right on the lake with their main foods being fish and vegetables grown on floating fields and hydroponic farming with many famous products, especially tomatoes. The lake area is a famous production area for clean tomato products. The landscape and ecosystem around the lake are not only beautiful but also help farmers grow delicious and clean tomatoes with almost no chemicals.

Myanmar is heavily influenced by Indian culture with the majority of people following Buddhism. Therefore, the food structure in the meal is mostly plant-based, with little meat or completely vegetarian. Vegetables and fruits here are often produced according to an organic model. Tomatoes and other vegetables do not use pesticides or chemicals, and the small, round fruits can be eaten directly in the field when harvested. Tomatoes are grown in fields around the lake or on rafts floating on the water. The water hyacinth and moss are collected by the men and built into beds about 1 meter wide and hundreds of meters long, fixed with bamboo stalks. Over time, the water hyacinth and moss decompose is the best substrate for growing tomatoes and other agricultural products.

Tomatoes are harvested daily, sorted according to size and ripeness, then placed in boxes for export to different places. Total output is estimated at nearly 100 tons/day. Agricultural farming on the lake here has been around for more than 100 years, with the area increasing every year and many villages on the lake and floating gardens attracting more and more tourists.

Living style at Inle Lake

In the villages, most activities take place on the lake. From buying and selling household items, harvesting agricultural products, gathering agricultural products to take to warehouses or markets around the region, it all takes place by boat.

In deeper waters far away, there is another equally unique, interesting and vibrant life of fishermen. This is the only place in the world where men row boats with one leg. The man stands at the bow of the boat to maintain balance, cast the net to catch fish and only uses one foot to paddle the boat in the right direction.

The best time of day to see these unique fishermen is around 5:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. At this time, the sun had risen from the top of the mountain range surrounding the lake, the sunlight shone down on the lake surface through the thin mist, creating a sparkling light. The silhouette of a fisherman rowing a boat in an upright position, one leg wrapped around a single oar, allowing their arm to freely let their net shine in the vast space of the lake, brings strong impressions. Some people fish by casting nets, while others fish using the traditional method of using a cage. The cage is surrounded by a thin net, the fisherman uses one hand to hold the head of the cage and one leg to hold the cage up high, the other hand swings the oar, the other leg stands firmly on the boat. The cage is placed face down in the water, everything moves smoothly like dancers dancing on the lake.

After a few fishing nets, the boatmen gathered together to rest and chat right on the water. Another interesting sight is the flock of birds on the lake. They are very bold, not hesitating to turn around fishing boats or chase boats running at high speed on the water when people on the boat throw food into the air to catch them. 

In the small villages of Inle Lake, there are many handicrafts such as the production of traditional Myanmar rolling cigarettes, weaving silk from lotus stems or the weaving of long-necked people.

Myanmar traditional rolling tobacco

Cigarettes are wrapped with betel leaves with different flavors mixed with other dried plants. When smoked, they have a sweet taste.

The leaves used to wrap the medicine are Tha Nut Pet from a plant brought from the mountains of Shan with the scientific name Cordia Dichotoma or another name Sebesten. The leaves are a bit like Bodhi leaves, not much nicotine, with a different taste. They are cleaned, softened, and then pressed flat with hot sand bags pressed on them. Along with the leaves, the stems are also chopped, dried, crushed and then add some flavors. All operations are done through the skillful hands of the craftsman who wraps the Cherot cigarette. 

Cherot cigarettes are considered a precious product of the Myanmar people. This is shown through old European records about indigenous people struggling to cope with harsh climates or malaria, and they all found spiritual strength from this magical cigarette. 

Weaving fabric from Lotus Silk in In Paw Khone village

On the edge of Inle Lake, there is a small village that people often call "Lotus" weaving village, meaning lotus weaving.

In In Paw Khone village, instead of weaving fabric with cotton or silk as usual in many places, here they use yarn taken from lotus stems with about 10,000 lotus stems to weave 1.3 meters square fabric. 

Here lotus plants are grown in abundance to serve silk weaving, creating a beautiful landscape that attracts tourists. Going through many different stages to create extremely unique silk, lotus silk is very beautiful and valuable. Products made from lotus silk are very popular and sought after by people as well as tourists.

Padaung village

Along with the Inthar people, the Padaung people live in Inle. They are famous for their practice of wearing necklaces, so they are also known as the Kayan long-neck people.

Padaung women have a long-standing custom of wearing many bronze necklaces around their necks, with the first necklaces between the ages of 2 and 5 and gradually increasing every 4 years. Some people have recorded that this neck can be up to 40cm long with a total weight of more than 15kg.

The bracelets are worn throughout all daily activities and are not removed. Wearing the bracelet is considered a sacred ritual and must be performed by experienced people to avoid errors such as suffocation or discomfort. They believe that the longer the neck, the more beautiful it is, that the necklaces will follow them until death, and that many sets of necklaces are passed down from mother to child.

We hope you find this information when explore Myanmar to be instructive and useful for your 2023 trip planning. Choose Threeland Travel to assist you in planning your trip to Myanmar if you are seeking for a reputable and competent travel operator. We can tailor your schedule to your preferences and budget, and we can handle everything from ticket reservations to housing and transportation. Please visit our website or call us right now to learn more about our unique promotions and packages. Don't pass up the opportunity to see Myanmar with Threeland Travel!