Waking up before dawn, we groggily made our way by foot to the boat dock. We passed red robed monks doing their usual rounds of alms-begging, rendering the morning an air of tranquility. Our boatman was ready to take us out to the lake and we settled into our hard seats, tucking our legs comfortably under thick blankets. The chilly morning breeze was tangible on our skin but that would soon change with the rising sun.
The lake grew wider as we went deeper, and mist blurred the horizon between lake and sky while mountains painted a faint backdrop and fishermen on boats dotted the foreground. Not just any odd fisherman, but ones that skilfully paddle with their leg while their hands are free to wrestle the interminable fishing nets. Their graceful silhouette was seared into my mind that very morning and I could not take my curious eyes off them. How did they master this skill that fishermen from other parts of the world don’t know of? How is it not more widespread? It seemed like a very clever way to fish.
As the mid-day heat started bearing down on our necks, we slowly approached the floating gardens and villages of Inle lake. We passed young ladies with tanaka-smeared faces maneuvering their boats around lush vegetation. While the men fished, the women harvested and pruned. It was a simple life living off the lake and passed down generation after generation.
Traffic on the lake started picking up as speedboats whirred past, transporting locals to other parts of the lake. But the fishermen were still hard at work using nets, cages and primal tools that have served mankind for centuries. We slowly made our way back to the boat dock, taking cover under our umbrella. We will soon be back in town, walking amongst other tourists back to our hotel rooms with precious pictures in our camera to remind us of our day out at the lake.