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inle-lakeInle Lake is a must to see the natural beauty of Myanmar as it strikes the balance between cultural interest and the natural beauty. The idyllic lake is in an elongated shape which is eleven kilometers wide and twenty-two kilometers long. It lies in the valley of two parallel ranges on the east and the west. The atmosphere is a combination of unique lifestyle of Intha, and the geological phenomena are providing the mystical nature of the lake and surrounding hills with wonders. The Intha are the unique leg rowers. They live on the lake by fishing and using the floating islands of the lake for cultivation. Intha live harmoniously with other ethnic groups, but unlike the others, in the anthropological background they are unrelated to the rest of Shan State origin. Intha originated in the place called Dawei that is far south in Taninthayi Region (the peninsula in the southern Myanmar). Their cause of migration across hundreds of miles to the north has been accounted for in different theories. One theory is that they escaped from the skirmishes in the south between Thai and Myanmar in the 18th century. Intha are known for their fishing methods, and skills in cultivation. In additional to that, they are talented in making handicraft and weavings. On the floating islands, tomato, cucumbers, chilly, garlic, onions, and different kinds of flowers grow. These people live literary on the water that their streets are the waterways and the boats are their daily means of transport. Little wonder, Inle is known as the Venice of Myanmar.

A visitor can get accommodation in a hotel located in Nyaung Shwe, the village by the lake, or one of the hotels with cottages near traditional villages on the lake. The hotels on the lake are the cluster of cottages, can be mistaken for a small local village as they are built traditionally in wood and bamboo. Inside, the hotels are equipped and furnished with modern facilities. The endless handicraft items can be seen for sale; it is a good bargain. The Inle silk fabric is well known through out the country. Today, it starts penetrating the international markets. About Inle is incomplete without talking about the Paungdaw Oo Pagoda. The festival of the Paungdaw Oo Pagoda attracts many people in October from all over the country. The grandeur of that festival is unmatched to others. The images of Buddha apparently more like lumps of gold, and during the festival in October they are carried on the royal barge which is towed by dozens of long boats with thirty or forty leg rowers, in each boat, paddling in standing position. They sing as they paddle the boats to the traditional drum beats. The procession lasts for three weeks. The procession makes stops at villages. Eventually, the procession comes to a final stop at the door step of the Paungdaw Oo Pagoda. The return of gold Buddha images coincides with the auspicious moment, the full-moon day. Local authorities and government executives carry the images from hand to hand until all the images are rightfully placed in their temple, up on the central pedestal. The festival is also a reflection of the peace and prosperity of Intha and the other people in that area.


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