What to expect when visiting Myanmar? Myanmar has been on my bucket list ever since I had a conversation with a...
Mingalabar my friends!
This time – Inle Lake! On our way from Pindaya to the lake we stopped at family-owned workshops and got the chance to see how rice paper is made and how to create paper umbrellas or the process of drying leaves for hand-made cigars. It was such a unique experience and a great opportunity to document the process.
After a long ride through beautiful agricultural land dotted with light and dark green fields, reddish soil and yellow flower fields, we finally arrived to Inle Lake.
Our guide who had the tendency to skip some of the explanations and seemed a bit clueless at times, kept saying we would first arrive to the hotel for check-in and then start touring the lake. At around 2 PM, the van stopped at a back-alley of a small street where we could see some sort of a local restaurant. And off our luggage is carried out of the car to an unknown destination. Sari was yelling at me “Where the hell are they taking the suitcases?!” and I could see the panic slowly taken over her already delicate nerves (in hindsight, lunch time was long overdue, and I have learned long ago not to mess with her when she is famished).
Well, after two minutes we understood it was not the back entrance to the hotel as Sari had initially thought (which explained her panic attack) but the gate-way to the lake. After a very long boat ride (with a few stops along the way) we arrived to paradise… bungalows in the shape of Noah’s Ark overlooking the peaceful lake. Finally a decent enough hotel for my sister ?
The lake is absolutely gorgeous. A huge fresh-water lake with floating villages and floating agricultural gardens surrounded by mountain scenery. This place can be described as the Venice of Myanmar. Whenever we crossed the lake people started waving at us, children and adults alike and when we waved back, they were all cheering. At some point I started feeling I had a pretty good idea how the Queen of England must feel.
There are many attractions around the lake but our highlights were visiting the Indein old village where old and renovated stupas (a stupa is a mound-like traditional Buddhist monument that contains holy relics) can be found. We also had a magical day that started with waking up at sunrise to find the local fishermen and ended at a sunset canoe ride in one of the local floating gardens.
Waking up before sunrise was not the easiest thing, especially after seeing how cloudy the sky was that morning. Nevertheless, we were lucky enough to encounter the most energetic Japanese photo-tour guide! After about 30 minutes of riding the boat we saw from afar a couple of fishermen’s boats near a floating house, excitedly we got closer and saw a group of Japanese photographers clicking their cameras as fast as they could while their teacher was busy directing the fishermen, demonstrating where to stand, how to stand, facial expressions etc.
All while yelling, pointing and making grand gestures so they’d understand when to throw their baskets into the water and basically putting on a charade accompanied by shouts in Japanese. Of course we jumped on the chance to tag along… Now I know how some photographers get their best pictures, just hire someone and show him how to model for you.
Our guide tried to bribe them to come and “work” for us but knowing how territorial photographers can be when they are trying to get the best shot, I told her to just leave them alone. I can’t describe how special Indein is so just check out the picture.