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Fishermen of Lake Inle, Burma

Burma’s picturesque Lake Inle has numerous fascinating sites on offer to visitors: the lakeside markets and stilt villages, ethnic minorities, temples, myriad handicraft and traditional ‘cottage industries’ to check out and the amazing ruins of the old Shan city at In Dein but it’s two most famous sites are probably the floating gardens plus the unusual fishermen who row with one leg. The small fishing boats are propelled by wrapping a leg around the oar thus leaving both hands free for dealing with fishing nets and fish traps.

Fisherman at dawn, Inle
Fisherman at dawn, Inle

Not sure if the fisherman in the picture makes it look easy, and they do in real life, but it certainly isn’t! Just balancing on two legs at the tip of this narrow wooden boat is practically impossible without years of practice and standing on one leg, let alone actually rowing, is just an unbelievable feat. On top of all that they then maneuver the large and cumbersome fish traps or throwing nets and we’re yet to see one fall in. (They must do sometimes though surely?)

Don't try this at home
Don’t try this at home

Above is Barry giving it a go on our February Burma tour but they would only let him attempt it on dry land!

Fisherman showing his latest catch
Fisherman showing his latest catch

The multitude of fishermen in their small boats across the lake are all admirable acrobats but we came across one simply astonishing chap in particular on our last trip to the lake. The fisherman was simply an artiste with the scenic lake as his dramatic stage. He slowly and with great deliberation ran through his whole repertoire of moves with an incredible grace, poise and balance never faltering once and all the time keeping a broad grin on his face. Must have taken 50 shots of this remarkable character so here’s just a few pics of the star of Inle….

 

 

 

 

This was pure ballet with a fishing net and the fisherman clearly loved every minute of it as much as the applauding tourists.  Also needs to be said the same chap positioned himself at the mouth of the river entering the lake from Nyuangshwe Town so it would have been difficult for anyone embarking on a boat trip to miss him and also note the total absence of fish in his boat. He’s an artiste and his hat was always full of tips so why bother fishing when you can do what you love doing and be a busking fisherman? We reckoned he probably went down the market at the end of the day and bought a few token fish to take home so the mundane task of actually catching fish didn’t interfere with his performances.

...and one last image - note the star's effective use of natural lighting
…and one last image – note the star’s effective use of natural lighting

Certainly one of the most incredible sights we saw on a trip full of spectacular sights! Next small group adventure tour to Burma leaves 28th July and you can find full details at this link. Cheers!