Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Intha Longboat Leg Rowing: The Fishermen of Inle Lake

Oh yes… Inle Lake is an absolute must! Resting along a 22 km long and 11 km wide flat plateau in the central highlands of Burma, Inle is surrounded by mountains and farms and gorgeous sightseeing.
It is also inhabited by the Intha Tibetan-Burmese ethnic people, who have their own language, culture, traditions, and bad-ass way of life!
Lake Inle is the second largest lake in Burma (No, I don't call it Myanmar!) with an estimated surface area of 44.9 sq miles, and one of the highest at an altitude of 2900 feet. (So it can get chilly) Inle Lake is in the heart of Shan State, about 400 km north of capital Yangon.
There are over 17 villages surrounded the waterside and the only transportation are these long wooden canoes.
But… the coolest thing about Inle is the Intha longboat leg rowing, a special kind of paddling while standing on the back of the boat with one leg wrapped around a bamboo pole.
Of course, the people here are very proud of this skill… but it is a strange sight to behold.
Villagers explained to me that it was due to the presence of water hyacinths, these sticky vines under the surface that bog the boats down.
But this also gives them a better vantage point for fishing and also where to drop their nets.
They also grow water gardens. One of their favorite veggies to grow is tomatoes…and these massive hand grenade size avocados…
Warning: Be careful when booking one of these tours that tell you they will take you to the floating market and the traditional villages…as they may only be open on certain days…and instead the driver will just take you to the silversmith or ceramics maker and expect you to purchase something…. But overall, what a wonderful trip and experience. Good luck and go get lost!

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