Arif's Journeys » Travel and Photography Blog of Arif Iqball

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Intha Fishermen, Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma)

Waking up in the (freezing) pre-dawn hours and heading out in the mirror-like calm waters of the Inle lake, one is rewarded with the beautiful silhouettes of the Intha fishermen as they cast their big nets and row using their unique style – with the legs. This technique of standing up holding a long paddle in one hand and their leg wrapped around the paddle lower down, leaves the Intha fishermen free to use the other hand for manipulating their conical net for fishing in the shallow waters of the lake. This unique style evolved for the reason that the lake is covered by reeds and floating plants making it difficult to see above them while sitting. Standing provides the rower with a view beyond the reeds. However, the leg rowing style is only practiced by the men. Women row in the customary style, using the oar with their hands, sitting cross legged at the stern.

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Perhaps one of my most memorable experiences in Myanmar, I was able to ride along in one of these flat-bottomed boats and struggled through 50+ pre-breakfast ab crunches trying to keep my feet out of the pictures, and simultaneously not upsetting the balance of the boat.

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The fishermen take great pride in their traditional tattoos which are very clearly visible on their tanned chests, backs, and arms.
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One of the top five attractions in Myanmar, Inle Lake is definitely worth the visit and although there are many tourists, one can still find a quiet place to relax and watch life go by.

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November 13, 2012 - 6:01 pm

Arif - Thank you very much for taking the time to write a comment. I am happy you liked these.

October 16, 2012 - 9:14 am

nuzhat aziz - These are wonderful. The first one in particular. These seem low contrast to me, but that may be my laptop display. Great work!

August 19, 2012 - 10:58 am

Arif - Thank you very much and I am flattered that you feel as such. To see and photograph Inle Lake with its proud fishermen holding on to their traditions was a very special experience for me and I am happy if my photographs could do a little justice to the beauty that existed there. Thank you again and I wish you many wonderful trips back to Inle and I hope you will remember me. I too hope to go back again.

August 7, 2012 - 1:35 pm

Deirdre - I read your comments about travelling with Steve Mc Curry and wondered why you thought you needed his teaching. Perhaps you taught him a thing or two on that trip, your images are beautiful, in fact the most beautiful I’ve seen of fishermen on the lake. I will return after 20 years and your pictures are truly an inspiration to go back

May 12, 2011 - 6:50 pm

Norman Choi - Absolutely stunning images Arif! I am wondering if there is any chance I can ask you for a bigger size file of photo #1 so that I can print a copy and hang it my dinning room.

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