Myanmar

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Beguiling Myanmar

IT IS very early, the sun just a pale yellow glow peeping from behind the glowering purple mountains, but already several of the distinctive foot-rowing fishermen are paddling their narrow open flatboats across the liquid-silver water of Inle Lake in Myanmar’s Shan province.
Once in their chosen spot they begin the agile dance-like process of casting their enormous semi-rigid cone nets while using their feet to keep the canoe in place.
Occasionally they beat on the top of the lake with their oar to chase the fish from the dense clumps of water hyacinth towards their nets.
It’s a scene that has changed little in centuries although today the fishermen find themselves battling with the wake of the larger, noisier, motorised longboats that transport locals, move bulk goods and exhilarate tourists. Life here exists entirely on, and from, the beautiful expansive freshwater lake, the second largest in Myanmar. There are whole villages on stilts, houses ranging from small, rather ramshackle bamboo affairs to large double-storey timber structures. Large restaurants and artisans’ workshops are alongside family homes.
The lake is the means of transport, communication, washing and other household amenities, and food production and transportation. Huge floating beds of tomatoes ripen in the brilliant sunshine.

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