If you’ve seen photos of Myanmar, or been there, chances are you’ll recognise these guys. They’re the Intha fishermen of Inle Lake, in the centre of the country, and they’re probably the most iconic representation of the country and its people.
The best time to see them is at dawn, long before the tourists boats arrive, when the lake is calm and flat, the light is doing that amazing thing that only pre-dawn light can, and the fishermen are going about their business.
Though some of them were only too happy to pose gracefully for photographs in the predawn light. We watched them for a while, and it was enchanting – a bit like a weird ballet on the water – but also kind of uncomfortable since we knew they were only doing it for us tourists in the hope of tips. We did, of course, give them some money afterwards.
After watching them for a while we carried on further out into the lake, which is where we spotted others actually getting on with the day job of catching fish from the lake. The guy below is demonstrating the impressive balance they need to master to be able to stand on one leg on an unsteady boat and row at the same time.
The technique involves using one leg to move the oar, so the boat moves slowly forward. The fisherman then uses his two free hands to pull the net in and remove any small fish that may have got caught. As you can see here, this technique certainly tones up the muscles! Perhaps they should introduce it into legs, bums and tums classes…
Inle Lake was by far my favourite place in Myanmar. I love this photo, taken just before dawn. I think it looks like a painting.