February 15, 2008

Dusk at Lake Inle, Myanmar

Location: Lake Inle at Nyaung Shwe, Myanmar (20°39′N 96°56′E)
Date: 18 December 2000; 7.15pm
Canon EOS 500N
(analogue) on slides and scanned
Lake Inle is one of the largest lakes in Myanmar in the Shan State. The majority of the people that lives around the lake are Intha but there are also significant number of Shans, Pa-O's and others.
The lake is quite pretty and is a major tourist destination in Myanmar even though it is the location of much civil and political strife over the last couple of decades, being in the centre of the Shan State.
Major attractions in this area are the huge floating markets and watching the unique rowing style of the men. The rower stands on the stem of the boat with one leg wrapped around the oar, rowing it together with a hand. This rowing style was evolved from the need to stand on the boat to see beyond the reeds and floating plants common on the lake surface.
Travelling in Myanmar is reasonably affordable especially after the military government stopped forcing all foreigners to change US$ for FEC's at ridiculously low rates. However a large swath of the country is still closed to foreigners and its land transport infrastructure is rather ancient. There are domestic flights connecting the major tourist destinations but Myanmar airlines have a rather dismal record on safety.
There is lots of discussion in the travel community on whether one should visit Myanmar considering the brutal repressive nature of the government. The arguments for desisting to visit Myanmar runs on the line that tourists bring in foreign currencies for the government and weakens the boycott on them. Such arguments to me, is invalid because the repressive military government do not rely on tourist dollars to prop them up at all. Their main source of income is from the export of gems, petrol, timber and other natural resources. The only way to force their hand economically is for the major (Western) corporations and neighbouring countries to stop doing business with them. Instead tourism bring in much needed revenue for the Myanmese population. Directly and indirectly this help the livelihood of the repressed people. Furthermore Myanmese themselves want to have more visitors as this gives them a much needed opportunity to interact with the outside world and in the process, impress on outsiders their sufferings and needs. Hence apart from security concerns, I am of the opinion that tourists should continue to visit the country and help the extremely friendly Myanmese population in the process.


Anonymous said...

I like the stillness of the water being captured here.

jump said...

very nice place, and cool processing :)