Floating Villages

Nestled between two mountain ranges  Inle Lake in Myanmar  features a unique ecosystem & rich traditions that have changed little from generation to generation.

This vast body of water ( 22km x 11km) is home to 17 villages, all on stilts.

There are no main streets or cars as the lake does not actually have a continuous shoreline;  and as a result an individual cannot walk around the lake directly.

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Residents travel around by canoe or via numerous bamboo walkways over the canals.

 

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Bamboo bridges

Bamboo bridges

 

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Much of the commerce takes place on the water as merchants, their small boats loaded with handicrafts or produce, do business via a travelling floating market which is held  on a rotational basis, in five different sites around the lake area.

 

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Typical products include silver jewellery , textiles, and cigars.

 

Silversmiths use time honed skills

Silversmiths use time honed skills

 

passed down through the generations

passed down through the generations

 

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To produce intricate hand made jewllerry

To produce intricate hand made jewllerry

 

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Yarn fibre is extracted  by hand from a lotus plant derivative found only here

Plant fibre is extracted by hand from a lotus plant derivative found only here

 

and spun into yarn

and spun into yarn

 

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Sometimes the lotus yarn is mixed

Sometimes the lotus yarn is mixed

 

with fine threads of silk

with fine threads of silk

 

Dyed by hand

Dyed by hand

 

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Before being weaved into cloth on bamboo hand  looms

Before being weaved into cloth on bamboo hand looms

 

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Cigars in the making

Cigars in the making

 

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Hand made umbrellas

Hand made umbrellas

 

and  meals from lake harvest

and meals from lake harvest

 

The Padung tribe-Myanmar’s ‘giraffe’ woman have become a victim of their  tradition of neck rings . Originally fitting of brass neck rings was to make woman less attractive to raiding tribes however these heavy rings cause deformation of the collar bones and upper ribs, pushing the shoulders away from the head. Many Padaung woman reach a stage where they are unable to carry the weight of their heads without the rings as additional support.

 

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The entire lake sustains a purpose-built community around an ecosystem which includes fishing , crops , livestock & temples.

Crops are grown via floating gardens.  Farmers gather up weeds from the deeper parts of the lake, bringing these back in boats to build floating crops beds. Bamboo poles are anchored in the beds to ensure they do not float away.

The constant availability of nutrient-laden water results in these gardens being incredibly fertile while their ability to rise and fall with changes in the water level ensure they remain flood resistant.

From the air, the area is so filled with floating vegetation that it appears more land than lake.

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Farmers gather up weeds from the deeper parts of the lake to build floating crops beds.

 

It is a weird feeling walking partially below the water line

 

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Bamboo poles keep the gardens anchored

 

Tomatoes on offfer

Tomatoes on offer

 

Floating crops as far as the eye can see

Floating crops as far as the eye can see

 

The inhabitants of the island are called the Intha, and are devout Buddhists.

 

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Floating temples

 

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while inside the temples

While inside the temples…

 

Another remarkable feature of the lake are the leg-rowing Intha fishermen . Unique to this area they stand on the stern with one leg and use the other leg, wrapped around an oar, to row their flat-bottom boats.

 

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Leaving the islands we are given a send-off from  the gulls

Leaving the islands we are given a send-off from the gulls

 

 A bit of self sustaining paradise that hopefully wont be over exploited by tourism

A bit of self sustaining paradise that hopefully wont be over exploited by tourism

 

9 Responses to Floating Villages

  1. Colin Pienaar

    Mind boggling! So different from live in South Africa.
    Colin and Debbie Pienaar Durban.

    • Colin Pienaar

      Ouch !!! life not live

  2. Mad Rider

    GR8!!. Thanks for an insight into another world

  3. Anonymous

    Interesting – so much more to our world than most of us are ever exposed to. Thanks for the insight!

  4. Jan and Gail

    At first I thought we were going to see a marina on stilts but i was proved wrong. This is so much more a real livelihood provider and well put when you wrote a self sustaining paradise. Everyone showed some degree of happiness and dare I say the cigar makers the most! Most interesting and uplifting and beautiful GJ

  5. Wendy & Amelia

    Fascinating! Thank you! It is very interesting how these people make a living / survive. I salute the ladies making the yam from the plant fiber. I will rather roll cigars than wear those rings around my neck – LOL!!

  6. Stella Ziegel

    Fascinating lifestyles… So different from our western ways.
    Thank you x

  7. Dave

    Wow, Linda and Harry, these images are amazing. Your camera must be red hot from non-stop photography.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Dave

  8. Jim and Muriel

    Always ever fascinating———-thanks yet again for the insight !

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