Tag Archive: Lake Inle

Intha fisherman of Inle Lake

Intha fisherman of Inle Lake



In my book, men in skirts reveal a certain machismo. I’ve seen them in Bhutan and now in Myanmar. The longyis worn in Myanmar are longer, yet the Bhutanese gho seems more formal. Just the same, the culture of skirted men is a curiosity. More unsettling for the tourists or visitors than the locals wearing them in comfort. When asked what these men wear underneath, our guide disclosed that it’s a question every tourist invariably asks. We’re such a curious lot, aren’t we?




Macho Men In Skirts

Macho Men In Skirts



We found some of them working in really physically-demanding jobs. It’s a miracle those skirts don’t drop as these men load bags and heavy sacks on their backs, or when they leg-paddle their boats in Lake Inle. As for their women, they do have lovely longyis in vibrant colors but fashion sense seems centered on their head gear or on their neck and leg adornments.




Photo Credit: Joyce Valino

Photo Credit: Joyce Valino


I love the ladies’ headgears. Those worn by the women from the Indein village were particularly beautiful and elaborate. There’s something regal about their headdress and how comfortably they wear them. Then there’s the ladies famous for their neck rings. They’re from the Padaung tribe in the Shan region which includes the area covered by Inle Lake. Women here wear brass coils around their necks as early as age 5, making them look like their necks have been “stretched”. In reality, the neck coils push down the collar bone. There is an equivalent group of tribe women in some parts of Thailand near the Burmese border who refer to themselves as from the Kayan tribe and object to being called Padaung. It is believed they’re the same Kayans or Padaungs who fled to the Thai border in the late 80’s and early 90’s during the country’s military regime. Interestingly, these long-necked women originally hailed from Mongolia who were assimilated into the local upland tribes.





Brass neck coils and brass/silver leg bracelets. For what?

Brass neck coils and brass/silver leg bracelets. For what?



There were also leg bracelets on these women. As for the neck coils, we wonder how long this tradition would last as younger, less traditional if not a tad modern, Padaungs refuse to fit brass rings around the necks of their children. Will this tradition grow extinct, only to be replaced by enterprising women interested in tourist dollars? Quite frankly, I’m not sure what to wish for. I do find it disconcerting to find women — and children — using these rings to push down their collar bones. It just isn’t right, no matter their reasons.

My best recollection of Myanmar would have to be the many stupas of Bagan and our stay in this wonderful floating hotel in Lake Inle. It sure pays to have (and spend) this “extra” especially after a tiring, dusty week in the land of gold. My advice? If you have the extra bucks, use it to spend at least a night here!









First off, Lake Inle by itself is truly beautiful. Now, savor all that beauty by staying in this gem of a hotel. Huts on stilts, each with a porch or balcony. Our cottage’s balcony faces the entrance arch to the floating resort so it was fun watching those canoes sailing in and out, each batch of hotel guests seemingly “welcomed” by the resident seagulls who have each chosen a pole as their “sentry”.









There’s a walkway towards the cottages, the spa, the dining area, and the swimming pool. Never had the chance to check the pool in this weather, but I’m hoping it’s heated considering the temp’s hovering around 7-10 Celsius. I can imagine it’s fun on summer nights. Yet I like the winter vibe in this lake area, and would in fact suggest a Myanmar visit during the cooler months of December and January. No worries — there’s a heater in the cottages. More than that, there’s a mosquito net too! The beds are not as comfortable but if you’re all curled up like a shrimp throughout the night, it hardly matters.









Food was good. They served local cuisine along with continental dishes. Don’t miss the local noodle dish called Monhinga. It’s made with thin rice noodles steeped in fish broth, crushed lemon grass and shrimp paste. Very delicious! You can pair them with the local Myanmar or Mandalay beer or if you seriously need to keep warm, try the local wine.







Now, this I’ve got to mention. Myanmar produces good wine! Red Mountain Estate imported grape plants from France and the cool weather and mountain soil on this side of Lake Inle must have conspired to produce this local wine at par with its western counterparts. Who would have thought? I was hesitant at first. The local wine is priced at half what a Bordeaux or Rioja would have cost you. But good enough that one of us mistook it for a rioja. So next time you’re in this area, enjoy a bottle of shiraz or cab sauvignon from Myanmar. Piode!

The Simple Life In Indein Village

Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.

——-Eleanor Roosevelt









Out again on a wooden canoe towards one of the villages along Inle Lake. Just past noon after a lunch of pasta & pizza, we passed some Inle fishermen rowing their flat-bottomed boat standing by the stern with one leg wrapped around an oar. There’s more of them out in the open lake doing this tribal fishing technique but this group looked like they’re done fishing, their cone-shaped basket nets having served their purpose.









I tried to suspend my thoughts on our way to Indein Village, not exactly knowing what to expect. Obviously this sidetrip to the southwestern bank of Inle is quite popular, seeing how many tourists there were in the jetty, ready for the half hour hike to Indein’s archeological site. The site is actually a cluster of 16th-18th century stupas and pagodas, many in utter disrepair if not largely ruined. Very atmospheric to find crumbling stupas and weather-beaten temples competing with Nature for space. The “jungle” threatens to take over this neglected archaeological site, as vegetation and banyan trees grow around many of the stupas, if not OUT of them. Many of the htis (top of stupas) are gone, and one can only imagine how this mass of hundred stupas must have looked then.












Indein in Burmese translates to “shallow lake”. Shallow enough that the boatmen never ever reminded us to don our life vests. Instead, the vests were used as cushions for our tired backs for the 45-minute canoe ride. In a way, the “neglect” may have “saved” these ancient monuments. Compared with some of the heavy-handed “restoration” done on some Bagan temples, the complex of pagodas and stupas here in Indein charm you in the same breath as those found in Siem Reap. Immediately, Lara Croft came to mind, though a friend of mine thought it’s more like Avatar.









Fisherfolks lead a very simple village life, perhaps completely oblivious to the value of the archaelogical finds here. Apart from the ruins, it was refreshing to see village folks doing their everyday business. Laundry and baths by the canals, where just across some enterprising village women sell fabrics, fruits and cracklings wok-fried in what looked like pebbles. The sprouting of al fresco beer gardens by the canals completely spoil the view, but what can I say? There’s also a vibrant market here but on the day we visited, the “5-day market” was elsewhere. As it was, the market moves from village to village. We caught the market elsewhere and I can only assume the same wares and producé are laid out for sale by the vendors.












It was a good walk from and back to the jetty. The Indein ruins are worth the visit, plus this glimpse of village life by the lake. Frozen in time? I’m telling ‘ya……. It’s beginning to thaw. So pack your bags and go pronto!















Piode! That means “I’m happy!” So are the birds and wild ducks in Lake Inle’s Bird Sanctuary. They fly and chase some passing boats and they happily stand still on fences along the banks. Water’s clean, there are flower and vegetable gardens floating atop dried weeds and fishermen with those unique nets must be their only competition for a good meal. 




Look at those happy birds!




Happy Birds? Or wild ducks taking a nap?




Water is so still and calm. Reflection of an Inle Fisherman.



The placid waters make for a very nerve-soothing ride. No wonder these birds are kept happy. Not even the noise from the boat engines could take anything away from them. Hopefully, this bird sanctuary remains a haven for these birds.




The agile fishermen of Inle — such a balancing act!




See them birds guarding our hotel in Lake Inle.




I stayed by the porch but none of them happy birds were eager for a “meet & greet”. There’s Tita Rose doing a “happy dance” 😄



Such simple lifestyles. But for how long? We passed many huts on stilts with signboards advertising their trade. From floating bars to restos to coffee shops to beauty parlors to laundry shops to handicraft stores. Single and three-storey structures welcome tourists out for a few nights stay. Thank God I didn’t hear any blaring sounds from any of the bars.



A fishing village  in Inle Lake.

A fishing village in Inle Lake.




Fishermen getting ready with their unique nets.




This traditional way of fishing is still practiced to this day.



The villagers here have “created” their own community. No islands, but they’ve created their own floating village in waters deep enough for fish to thrive, but shallow enough to build floating gardens. I wonder how they draw the property lines here, especially for the commercial structures.





A typical day in the village.




A happy duck foraging for food in the floating gardens of Lake Inle.




The floating restos have no problems keeping off those happy birds — which confirms those birds are well-fed and errrr….. happy!



The influx of tourists may result in more structures being set up, leading to overcrowding. More luxury hotels may soon sprout along the water highways. More passing boats could mean noise pollution to this now tranquil lake. I dare not imagine.






Myanmar. Not the country. But the beer.




This scene is forever etched in my memory!




All wrapped up for the ride!




See you again in Inle!