31 March 2012

Venice of the East - Inle Lake... Huh. And Wow!

Inle was one of the best places to go in Myanmar!  It’s a great place that showcases just how industrious the people of Myanmar are.

Upon arrival at the Heho airport for Inle lake around noon, we get out of the extremely small airport to a bunch of dry, hot landscape not having a clue of where we were at.  A taxi driver approaches us and takes us to Inle where we are to board a boat and take that to our hotel.  An hour long drive along the bumpiest, skinniest roads shared with a bunch of other motorcycles, trucks, ox pulled carts, ginormous buses filled with people inside, on top and around, tractors, bicycles and more.  I’m pretty sure our driver honked a minimum of 300 times at other people on the road or at absolutely nothing.

We get to Inle and board a long boat with three chairs in it.  We head out on the water and quickly realize that life here is on stilts over water that ranges from 3’ deep to around 10’ deep depending on what time of year it is.  The only cars that exist is in the town of Inle, which is where everything comes in and out of, everything else is by boat… even to your neighbor’s house or to retrieve a volleyball that got hit out into the water during a game. 

Everything gets elevated here including their crops.  In some of my pictures you’ll see lots of bamboo poles sticking up out of the ground or what appears to be ground – it’s actually floating bits of earth all lined up and staked down with the bamboo poles.  Produce is planted in it and when the rainy season comes, all of the crops rise up with the rising water.  To access it, people then go along by boat to maintain and pick their produce. 

Our boat operator became our tour guide for a couple days as well.  We nicknamed him “v-dub” since his Burmese name sounded something like it.  He took us around to all sorts of handicraft areas.  Each town specialized in their own crafts as well.  We saw how the traditional silk Myanmar fabrics are made including the extremely labor-intensive lotus thread, silver, sake (yes!  Sake!!!), natural cigarettes, paper, and umbrella making.   He also took us around to a pagoda, a local market (and our first traffic jam with boats!), a Burmese cat sanctuary, a monastery that had jumping cats (don’t go, it’s a waste of time), and to some good traditional Myanmar/Shan restaurants.

Inle is pretty awesome.  I think it was our favorite place in Myanmar.  Everything we saw deserved a response of either a huh or wow.  Huh as in, “that’s interesting/unusual/pretty awesome” and wow as in “holy shit!  That’s awesome!”.  Yeah, Inle was pretty WOW!

A world on stilts

Getting onboard

Washing clothes in the lake

Relaxing while working

On the lake looking for a good place to fish

Posing for the camera

A shout-out to all the mamas out there!

Floating "store"... selling some flowers

And selling some more flowers

People of Myanmar are generally all smiles and are happy to see Westerners
The fibers from the lotus stem are pulled out then twisted with other fibers to create a string.  Man on the right spinning the fibers onto a large spool.
Bags of dyes, a woman dying all of the silk thread by hand, and the final product

On the loom

A woman using the foot presses to set the various sets of threads in place

More to come...


At April 1, 2012 at 3:34 AM , Anonymous Sean said...

Pretty cool Ms Black

At October 11, 2013 at 10:57 AM , Blogger Jerry said...

Hi. I am from Venice of the East :)
This is impressive. Thanks for spreading the words. Off the topic, I would like to use some images & contents from you blogs to post and share on our airline facebook page. Heho airport is one of our destination. As the festive coming up this October, I would like to use these contents to raise awareness on "Huh & Wow" Innlay.


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