After trekking from Kalaw, we were rewarded with our arrival in Inle Lake. Brian and I expected Inle to be a wide open waterway with homes surrounding in. Instead we discovered Venice if you picked it up, plopped it into a watery Asian fairytale. (And Venice is storybook-worthy itself, so imagine just how otherworldly Inle feels!) Inle is home to the famous fishermen who use triangular nets and paddle with their feet instead of their hands. Instead of sowing seeds in the sedentary earth, Inle dwellers farm floating gardens, rafts of soil and peat that grow crops abundantly. Artisans spin yarn by hand from lotus flowers, instead of the expected cotton or flax. Floating markets travel from place to place on the lake. Stupas grace the shoreline, as people in flat-bottom canoes paddle by silently. Each new sight felt like a discovery on Inle Lake.
For our one full day on Inle Lake, we hired a guide to tour us around in his flat-bottomed canoe, the primary mode of transportation on the lake. Armed with hats and umbrellas to fend off the sun, we set out to discover the lake.
We visited the Floating Gardens and bounced on them for good measure…..
Much to my excitement, we visited many artisan workshops…
We went to the local market where I succumbed to buying baskets…which my loving husband Brian helped me haul home on the plane, for which I will be forever grateful. (It was actually hilarious. I was worried that security would take the baskets away due to their cumbersome shape and size, but whenever I went through a line of security, both in India and Burma, my baskets were met with laughter and pantomime. The security guards loved that I was bringing home rice winnowing baskets…basically like bringing home a Cuisinart as a souvenir from America. The baskets made it through security.)
We watched the fishermen haul in their catch, a graceful art of balance and persistence. How they manage to handle their nets, paddle the boat with their legs, teeter on the gunnel, and not fall splashing into the water, I have no idea…
We watched the world go by from our boat.
At the end of the day, we returned to our lovely hotel and our own personal traditional abode, perched over the water. In the morning when we woke, light reflected off the lake below and into our hut where it shimmered on the bamboo walls.