Saturday, January 2, 2016

Myanmar Motorcycle Journey 4: Inle Lake

Inle Lake is one of the “Big Three” of places to see if you're a tourist in Myanmar, the other two being Bagan and Mandalay. Up until this week, I had been to none of these places. I'd heard good and bad things about Inle, but one thing for sure that I had determined is that I was not going to have a 'typical' tourist experience there.

About a year ago, I read this article on the internet  . Ooo... It described a place near Inle, accessible only by river that even the locals didn't visit. Filled with ancient pagodas slowly being eaten up by the surrounding jungle. How fascinating! So, my goal early on was to visit Inn Dein, the site of these ruins. Eventually, as my plans included my friend Dean who took a bus from Naypyitaw to meet me there, we decided to see the lake on a beeline to Inn Dein.

As you'll see in the video, Inn Dein was anything but what was described in the article. It wasn't some remote, unvisited, forgotten temple complex. It was filled with tourists! So be it. It was still an incredible experience to see these stupas in their state and imagine what it was like 500 years ago when they were new. Inle Lake and its surroundings had been the center of power for the various tribes of the Shan people. I was in Shan State, and the people there are not Burmese, in that the word “Burmese” derives from the word “Bamar”, the dominant ethnic group in the rest of the country. Shan people are actually more connected ethnographically to the Thai than the Bamar.

But I digress. Inle Lake was magical. It kind of reminded me of Lake Tahoe in California in that it was a natural lake high up in the mountains surrounded by hills. Moreover, I heard strange, magical music. Hearing noises that aren't there isn't a great attestation to one's mental health, but I'm admitting it anyways. Over the roar of the boat's engines, I heard a haunting, delicate and subtle melody that kept kept changing unpredictably, as does all Myanmar music. It sounded like it was coming out of some kind of pipe instrument. I only heard when the boat engine was roaring. None of my travel companions heard it. It was probably just some kind of auditory hallucination, but I'll chalk it up to the power of this long revered holy place.

All in all, I really enjoyed this 'rest day' (I didn't drive anywhere) in Inle. The food was amazing, I got to see what I wanted to see and got to experience what makes this place what it is. 



  1. Sometimes an engin will throw a vibration that will resemble music and not everyone can hear. it might have been because of your place in the boat. Perhaps your mind completed the sound, like when your eyes only see the first few letters of a word and your mind completes it.

    Glad you are enjoying your trip. Under ware has arrived from Amazon, and I will mail it as soon as you are back. Let me know when.

  2. Well that was a fun tour. I have been to the temples in Cambodia, amazing how the earth reclaims mans structures.

  3. I know you are truly blessed, being able to teach ESL and live in a place where you can enjoy travelling. Happy New Year! Blessings... Lynn


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