Our stops in Myanmar weren’t too far apart in distance and typically we would train or bus. But we ended up flying due to convenience and reliability. Myanmar’s infrastructure just isn’t set up with reliable schedules and methods for travelers like other countries. There were some buses/trains running, but after research and hearing horror stories, it just wasn’t worth it. But we had no qualms with this issue as frankly, a lack of infrastructure is what excited us about visiting the country.
We flew into the one room Heho airport then took an hour taxi into Inle Lake that we shared with two friendly British girls to split the cost (because #ballinonabudget). The area is famous for its local fisherman who have a unique fishing style in which they use one foot to row an oar and the other on a net. The nets they use are cone-shaped and the fisherman place them into the water then stab a long spear up and down into the net to also try and trap the fish. We did a boat trip around the lake one day and it was very cool to see this up close in action.
The lake itself is really shallow, only a few meters deep in most places. It feels more like a large, flooded marsh than a true lake with distinct shores around it. The area has 70,000 inhabitants, most of which live in the numerous floating villages on the water. Here you can find all the buildings on stilts including homes, stores and even schools. Then everyone takes wooden boats for transportation everywhere. There’s even floating gardens we saw growing tomatoes and other vegetables. Water from the lake is used for all their needs – washing dishes, laundry, bathing, etc. Women wear a sarong around them for privacy since they’re bathing with a bucket right outside their home which is a main waterway for people and boats.
Our guesthouse was in a town just off the water and had free bikes so we enjoyed biking around to nearby fields and out to meals. We realized at this point into our Myanmar travel that the food isn’t that amazing. There were a few decent restaurants there, one of which was an Indian spot where we chatted with the owner/head cook. He was so excited we were from the US because Detroit is there and he’s OBSESSED with Eminem. Even in the tiny hut of a restaurant there was a framed picture of Eminem on the wall as the only decor. So hilarious and random. We never know what we’ll encounter on this trip!