Inle Lake

Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma)

I arrive at Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake’s main development, in the dead of night and immediately book myself into a boat tour of the lake, wondering aloud if the notorious Nayar, a mythical dragon with four legs, still patrols the waters. An old man seated next to me on the bus had told me all about the Nayar and the Magan, a man-eating crocodile-cum-anteater that patrols the murky depths of Inle when the sun goes down. I don’t consider myself superstitious, but in Burma I’ll believe just about anything.“Now you’re starting to understand our country,” he says, winking at me as he captains us through the dark.The engine dies and we sit for a moment; I’m not sure if we’re waiting for the Nayar to drag us to the bottom of the lake or if our propeller has fallen off and we have to swim back to shore.

Out of the mist, with the first rays of dawn pouring over the eastern hills, a fisherman appears, trawling across what appears to be a thin sheet of glass, one strong leg propelling his slender canoe while he hefts a massive cone-shaped net above his head and plunges it into the water. This is an Intha fisherman, a member of the Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority group that make their homes in stilt houses on the lake, self-sufficient fisherfolk and farmers known for their unique one-legged rowing style that has been fodder for romantic travel tales in the same vein as Venice canal rowers for hundreds of years.

We paid $35 for a day on the water in a private boat. It was worth every penny.

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Mountain biking

Mountain biking around the sublime setting of Inle Lake was something I’ve wanted to do for years and was far more incredible than I’d imagined. The three days spent boating with my bike on board to different locations (such as Indein, where there are acres of ancient stupas - see photo) was unforgettable. Cycling through villages, locals from the Intha tribe were always quick with an invitation to stop in for a delicious meal and to clean up. I was respectful to stay on paths made by villagers which are numerous and provided incredible single track riding all day long.

Lake Inle

the fishermen row with their legs while dropping a conical net over the fish to trap it in shallow crystal clear waters and then spear the fish thru the small hole at the top of the cone.

Are You Sure I Can Have More Than One Piece Of Candy?

On trip to Myanmar in 2011, we visited the Inle Lake area. After a short Long-boat ride, our guide had asked if we wanted to visit the bamboo forest. After leaving the boat, we came across a group of children. Our guide had already prepared us by suggesting that the group buy a bag of candy at the local souvenier market. We were told to only give one piece to each child, but as you can see, the best laid plans . . .

Inle Lake Boat Ride

In Nyuang Shwe, walk to the lake access near Viewpoint Lodge where you can easily rent a boat for the day for $20: the guides/captains will find you. Inle Lake can be cold in the morning, so wear layers. Boats are equipped with one blanket (and life vest) per person. Watch hundreds of young fisherman fish balancing on a single leg while rowing the boat with the other leg (they wrap it around an oar). Visit the market, village of Inthein and Jumping Cat Monastery. Myanmar trip report:

Exploring Mysterious Inthein

Rent a boat and guide/captain in Nyaung Shwe for $20 for the day. Dress in layers, as the Inle Lake is cold in the morning. The ride to Inthein lasts approximately an hour, but it’s a fascinating trip. Make your way through the village to the decaying statues and tilted stupas. Wander. Don’t forget your camera. Myanmar trip report:

Inle Lake, Myanmar

The time I spent on Inle Lake was the highlight of my Myanmar trip. It’s such a striking body of water in the heart of this wonderfully atmospheric country. The lake is surrounded by the imposing Shan Mountains and is home to rural villages and amazing floating gardens which I explored by boat. Every day I saw Shan villagers heading to the unique floating markets to trade their different arts, crafts and food.

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