Inle lake is big, beautiful and the most touristy part of Myanmar we have seen till date. Most shops have English signs outside, most people speak a few words of english (usually, “Hello”, “Where are you from?”, and “Need Boat?”)
That being said, it’s touristy for good reason. The views are spectacular, the food, tasty and cheap, and then there’s the fishermen.
Inle Lake fishermen have, over the generations, developed a very interesting method of fishing and rowing. It’s called One-Legged Rowing by the tourists. They call it, well, rowing.
They have these really tiny boats that they take fishing. And they fish with nets. So they sit and row till they reach the spot they want to fish in. Once they get there, they need to row the boat and cast the net all at the same time. This is where it gets interesting. They stand, and row with one hand and one leg, cast the net with the other hand, and balance on this sliver of wood they call a boat with the other leg! It’s quite a feat to witness!
When it’s time to reel the net in, its both hands on the net, row the boat using their upper arm and leg, and balance with the other leg!
I can’t imagine how they must feel. For decades they were doing their thing, fishing, no one paid them any attention (unless they caught a really big fish). Then one day one tourist comes through with a Camera. Next thing you know, they’re trying to fish, and tons of boats with straggly dressed people carrying cameras are clicking them like Paparazzi.
They apparently got so famous, Louis Vuitton did a whole Ad campaign with the Inle Lake Fishermen!
I found this out, interestingly enough, at a Monastery where we stopped. Among the pics of Buddha and the like were these posters from Louis Vuitton!
Sadly though, this place hasn’t gotten touristy enough that theres good coffee. :(((
Oh, and I normally try not to do this on my blog, but I need to make this one exception. Once we got here, we took a boat organized through the Thu Thu travel agency (opposite the Sunflower restaurant). It’s owner was amazing! She helped us organize the boat, communicated with the driver to take us to all the cool places, organized bus tickets, gave us suggestions on where to go and what to do, helped us rent bikes, lent books to read, and even made us Espresso! And for really good prices too. I know, I checked! All 4 of us that ended up roaming the lake together really loved her. I needed to make that plug as she doesn’t have any means of advertising. Internet in that place is extremely slow, if not non-existent. Hence we all felt the need to help her out after the awesome service she gave us.
We’re about to head out from Inle to Bagan. Will report on that next. But before that, the Taunggyi Fire Balloon Festival we went to yesterday…! This was the highlight of my experience so far. Read about it here (coming soon!).