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.
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.
The fishermen take great pride in their traditional tattoos which are very clearly visible on their tanned chests, backs, and arms.
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.