Ever wondered how it would be to live the simple life? If yes, then pack up and head out to the pristine and picturesque Inle Lake, a fresh water lake located in the Nyaung Shwe township of Shan State, Myanmar. Here you can experience rural life at its very best and enjoy a kind of peace and calm, probably never experienced before.
The locals, called Inthas who live in the neighboring villages and also in stilted-houses built right on the lake, seem to remain almost oblivious to the world beyond it, depending primarily on farming or fishing as the main source of livelihood.
One of the most fantastic sights on Inle is seeing the local fisherman, practicing a completely unique style of rowing that involves them standing on one foot at the edge of the boat and rowing with the other, firmly wrapped around the paddle. Other produce like fruits and veggies are grown in plenty on the large floating gardens. Apparently the high nutrient-level in the water makes it possible to grow almost anything on the lake. Other source of income come from the sale of hand-made goods made in the several small-scale cottage industries also set along the lake.
One particular product that is completely unique to Inle and found in no other part of the world is the Lotus Silk. During the monsoons, lotus stems are cut and twisted to reveal a thin fiber. Thousands of this fiber are then spun together and handwoven to make this luxurious fabric.
The fact that the locals are devout Buddhists are obvious from the vision of the numerous pagodas and Buddhist temples cropping up on various parts of the lake, some new and some like the Shwe Indein Pagoda located on the Indein Village, dating all the way back to the 17th century. A trip to the village, located on the western banks of the lake is an absolute-must to see the ancient ruins of over 100 stupas and also catch a panoramic view of the village atop the hill that houses the pagodas.
Another major temple that is a must-stop at Inle is the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. No visit to the lake is considered complete or auspicious` without paying your respects here. The pagoda houses 5 Buddha stupas, completely covered in gold to the extend that it is impossible to recognize its original form. Only men are allowed to place the gold leaf on the shrine that is believed to have magical powers. In the 1960’s during the festival procession, the royal barge carrying the stupas had capsized. The search party were only able to retrieve four of the five idols. But when they returned, they were simply amazed to find the fifth statue back in its place.
Simple is beautiful and Inle stand proof of it. So come and fall in love to what can only be described best as the perfect synthesis of beauty, peace, divinity and harmony. A place like no other.