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Taking to the Water on Inle Lake in Myanmar

A few days relaxing on the shores of Inle Lake, Myanmar while backpacking in 2003. A wonderful, beautiful, and very photographic part of the world. It was a knee-jerk decision going to Myanmar. I had a few weeks free and I was in Bangkok, so I bought myself a plane ticket, got a visa and off I flew.

Photo by bsmart

Landing in Yangon (formally Rangoon) was quite an experience. I was taken to one side – my photographic equipment was searched with much suspicion and was told I had to buy $200 worth of FECs (Foreign Exchange Currency) – a ‘fake’ tourist currency fabricated by the Burmese Junta so it could extract as much money from tourists as possible (this was in 2003 and before the recent democratic reforms). I was having none of it – I refused to buy the $200 FECs and managed to get away with only buying $10 worth.

Photo by bsmart

Yangon was fun, but I was keen to head into the country. So I left Yangon on the roof of a local bus, heading north to Inle Lake. The lake was buzzing when we arrived – happy people everywhere. It was carnival time.

We made our way to a hotel but before we could check-in we were told we must go to the lake and hire a boat. After the long bus trip, I was considering heading to bed rather than go out for the day. Thankfully, I decided to soldier-on.

The lake was wonderful. There were hundreds of boats on the lake, people beating drums and singing songs. On the shore a fair was in full swing.

We happened to stumble upon Inle Lake just at the right time. A sleepy village had come alive for just a few days and we were there to enjoy it.

I’ve loved that trip to Myanmar and in particular the Inle Lake visit. I’ve not been back since, but I hope to be able to return one day.

written by bsmart

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