Inle, a lake like no other
Imagine sitting on a fisherman boat in the middle of a lake surrounded by mountains while eating fresh, tasty tomatoes picked directly from the lake. You think it is impossible? It isn’t! We did it on Inle, a 116 km2 lake in the center of Myanmar where locals grow vegetables in large gardens that float on the surface of the lake attached only by bamboo sticks. People live there in simple wooden houses on stilts being largely self-sufficient farmers and/ or fishermen. The latest practice a strange, unique rowing style standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. How come they do not fall in the water? I am still wondering…
We visited several small villages, all on stilts only, with babies growing up on boats, probably learning to paddle before learning to walk. In addition to “floating farming”, some of the local communities produce hand-woven silk and lotus fiber using traditional machines or silver jewelry in the same small houses on stilts in the middle of the lake. But what impressed us the most were the “long necked” Padaung women, so called because they wear copper rings around their necks since the age of 5 in order to give the impression of a longer neck. Once the rings are wrapped around the neck they are never removed, not even during the night… the only time they get rid of them is when they add another one to make the neck even longer.
It rained almost half of the time we spent wandering around the lake on our boat, but God, this was so refreshing after weeks of 40+ degrees! And we really enjoyed observing this lifestyle, such different from what we are used to.