Inle Lake Villages, Myanmar – A Travel Adventure

by | June 25, 2019 |

The title image for Inle Lake Villages: water hyacinths growing thick on Inle Lake in central Myanmar.

Inle Lake is famous for its villages, indigenous crafts and the fishermen who are out every day from dawn to dusk:

Inle Lake

Inle Lake Villages: Floating Villages

A comparison to Venice is tempting. The streets are, indeed, waterways. Everything and everyone comes and goes by boat:

Inle Lake Villages

However, Venice rests on land, and these villages rise straight out of the water . Here’s a rich guy’s house:

Inle Lake Villages

Regular people live in these houses:

Inle Lake Villages

I see electric wires here, so they have electricity in this part of the village. Not all houses have it

Here’s the sense of a street:

Inle Lake

Inle Lake Villages: Crafts

You have boatbuilding, naturally enough:

Inle Lake Villages

The boats are things of beauty:

Then we come to cheroot rolling:

Inle Lake Villages

I must say that I perked up at this shop. I don’t smoke but I did try several of the samples, namely Anise and Rum. For my start cheroot smoking on the Ayeyawaddy River, see Bagan Life.

And I did buy. The stuff is strong! It is only 20% tobacco. The rest is the chopped leaf of corn and the bud of a palm tree soaked in tamarind and honey. A Sebastian tea leaf serves as the wrap.

The weaving is fascinating:

This woman extracts the threads of a lotus, one stalk at a time:

Inle Lake Villages

Talk about labor intensive!

Other threads, such as cotton, come into play. It all goes on a loom:

Next comes blacksmithing:

Inle Lake Villages

Inle Lake Villages: My Purchases

Is there an ethics of travel? Probably.

The first day touring the lake, I didn’t take my purse. Since we were traveling by boat everywhere, I kept my valuables in the hotel room safe, because I could easily imagine them falling to the bottom of the lake. (I’m capable of such a disaster.) The second day I wised up. (What, I haven’t done enough traveling?). And so I put some cash in my pockets along with a debit card, knowing that my credit card didn’t always work in Myanmar. We made stops at various craft shops, and I understood my duty as a tourist.

Yes, you’re supposed to buy things.

Quick looks online offer different attitudes toward traveling and purchasing. I truly do understand the desire not to buy things you don’t need, don’t want and don’t have room for in your luggage. On the other hand, you the traveler have entered into another person’s living room, so to speak, by your own volition. You are their guest. Just like at a dinner party, you’re expected to eat the food offered, I figure ….

If you have no room in your luggage, you can always find something to do with your purchases.

I have now given most of mine away. Here’s what I kept for myself.

The cheroots I have not yet worked up the courage to smoke. And the lacquer box intended for them now holds my business cards. I failed to get pictures of silversmithing. I think I got too caught up in the dazzle, but I do love the two necklaces. The beige wrap on the left is made of lotus. So that’s cool. The green wrap is likely a silk/cotton blend.


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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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