• Nicolas Coupet

MYANMAR : INLE LAKE



Burmese fisherman at Inle Lake

I thought I would reach Inle in 12 hours in a bus, but you know it never goes as planned when travelling... Instead of that I had to go through the most hectic journey of my life in 32 hours. It all started well, we stopped for dinner after an hour drive, jumped back in and drove for another half an hour when the bus stopped completely. It will not move for the next...12hours! We were in fact stuck in a jam that went down and up the mountain. The only road was lit by the cars, buses and lorries' lights, patiently waiting for their turn to go, while the opposite lane was surprisingly moving. After an hour wait asking around what was going on, and getting no answer from anybody, I jumped out of the bus and started to talk to a fellow passenger, Alex, a french art director. We shared travelling and professional stories to kill boredom and then came back in the bus to try to sleep. But it was no sleeper bus we were in! Just a normal bus, comfortable enough for a few hours ride, I didn't get much sleep to say the least. The next day around 9am, most of the people got off the bus to stretch their legs, get some food and other stuff. Quickly a small group of 4 people formed and we all wanted to leave by foot to wherever as we couldn't spend another minute in this insane traffic block. A German guy who was even more pissed off about the situation than us left first and we followed by a few minutes. After walking down the hill with all our bags, out of nowhere, the traffic started again, just like that miraculously... We hopped on at the back of the first lorry that stopped and it took us all the way up the hill. That's how I met American Alex who is also a photographer/videographer. Us three: french Alex, american Alex and me finally had the feel of freedom again being at the back of this moving lorry with the breeze refreshing us and also a flasque of whisky to help us forget the last 12 hours of this journey. Once on top of the mountain we jumped off the lorry and waited 5 minutes for our bus to come.The story could have stopped here but 80 km from Inle the bus broke down and the nightmare felt like starting all over again. Some of us tried to hitchhike to overcome the situation but it was pitch black and the only cars which stopped were already packed. We waited another 2 hours for the bus to get repaired and finally moved on to our destination. We reached Inle 32 hours after leaving Hsipaw and that concluded the longest ride of my life.

American Alex took the opportunity to document this experience in the following video:


Once in Inle I forgot about this horrible ride and was blown away by the beauty of the place. Inle is the second largest freshwater lake in Mynamar and some 70 000 Inthat (people from Inle Lake) live around it and they are mostly farmers. Fishing is also big on the lake, as you would expect, and local fishermen are known for practicing a distinctive rowing style which involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. Nyaungshwe, the main town that centralized most of the travelers, is busy and pretty noisy but it keeps a very nice vibe. On my first day I circled around Inle, passing an old monastery and talking to the head monk, and crossed the lake to the other side in a wooden boat. In the afternoon I joined a few friends from my hostel to the Red Mountains Winery to have a taste of the local wine (that turned out to be actually quite good!) and to watch the sunset on the lake. The next day I started early in a boat and witnessed Inle at dusk, using little channels to get the next floating village and passing floating gardens and markets was what make Inle so great. The life on it is very organised and everybody has a defined role.

Here are the photos taken both on and around Inle lake:


Master Monk at a wooden monastry near Nyaungshwe


Master Monk at a wooden monastry near Nyaungshwe







Traditional Burmese fisherman using a distinctive rowing technique



Floating gardens











Woman making "Paan"

#myanmar #burma #burmese #inle #lake #lakeinle #fisherman #water #floating #market #sunrise #sunset #monastery #monk #boats

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