Myanmar - Jeff Henry Photography
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The Fisherman

The Fisherman

Isle Lake is one of the places in Myanmar that attracts the intrepid and casual traveler alike. There is a sense of exotic serenity as one reads about the lake and contemplates visiting. Self-induced images of a hotel room perched on long narrow stilts above the lake surface, traveling during the day by boat with wind in ones hair, and witnessing a traditional culture where life is based and depends on the lake.

While these images might be imagined before one arrives at Inle Lake, it quickly becomes apparent that what was imagined is reality. Life moves at a pace here that is dictated by the rains and lake, with people living over the water year round in homes built atop bamboo poles. Transportation is via long handcrafted boats; propelled by motors for those with money, and by paddles for those without.

I’ve visited many places in my life, and in most I would say that daily life and then environment are intertwined but not inseparable. That is not the case here. While I only had the chance to visit for a brief stint, I came away with the strong notion that life here is fully integrated with the lake, and without the lake the people would struggle to survive. Of course, they can and do adapt: changing environment, increased tourism, etc. But, the sense I got here was one of togetherness: the people and lake as one.

In this image we have one such example: a fisherman, accomplishing his craft in the traditional way using a conical net while rowing with his leg. Of course, what can’t be known from just looking at the image is that this fisherman no longer uses his net to catch fish, but rather to show his proud tradition to visiting travelers. The economics of Lake Inle have changed, and while there used to be hundreds of such fisherman plying the lake each day for food, now they almost all use more modern nets or long fishing lines and hooks. This man, however, has kept alive the tradition of his family and the lake, and he will gladly demonstrate it to anybody passing by.

AsiaAsianCULTURECommercial FishingEthnicityFishermanInle LakeMyanmarRegionalShanSoutheast AsianSunriseTradition