The Inle Lake, surrounded by mountains and located on the Shan Plateau, 647 km from Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, captivates its visitors. What makes Inle Lake so special is not only the beauty of its mountains and waters, but also the lifestyles of different ethnic groups living in the region. The only means of discovering this region that accommodates flower, cigar, silver mining, and villages that specialize in weaving and pottery is the four-person motorboat.
The Intha people are one of the ethnic groups who have been living in bamboo houses on wooden posts for centuries. In the local language, Intha, the name of the tribe, means “sons of the lake.” The lives of the Intha, who discovered creative methods for turning the lake into their home, is closely associated with water. A majority of the traffic on the lake consists of long rafts. Although the use of diesel-powered motorboats has become widespread today, fishermen who hunt traditionally still sail on the lake using the “leg-rowing” technique. They balance on one leg at the end of the boat and use an oar with their other leg. In the meantime, fishermen collect the nets with their hands. Watching the subtle movements of the fishermen, who virtually turn the boats into one of their limbs, is fascinating.
On Inle Lake, like the locals’ methods of fishing, agriculture is also conducted using special methods that are unique to the region. Farmers grow tomatoes and other produce in floating gardens in the lake. When the Intha girls reach the age for marriage, their families give them gifts of floating gardens as their dowry.
One of the most impressive things to see on Inle Lake is the sunset. The lake, which creates magnificent scenes for photographers with its romantic scenery, attracts curious tourists every season who come to see the Intha culture and the neighborhoods they build on the lake.