Exploring Inle Lake during festival of Paung Daw Oo

11 October 2014 

Lake Inle is one of the most interesting place of all Myanmar where, like in a real "waterworld", local people live in perfect harmony with the water, growing crops on floating gardens, moving only by canoe and building stilt houses using wood and bamboo leaf. But traveling to Inle lake during Paung Daw Oo festival is a real privilege, when locals and pilgrims coming from all over Burma, gather together to celebrate the golden Karaweik boat carrying the images of the Buddha to its final destination, before long canoes driven by dozens of rowers compete in speed races.

It's a sunny morning of early October on Inle Lake in Myanmar, when near the Paung Daw Oo Pagoda, lot of locals and tourists start to gather together for the final day of lake Inle festival.
Inle lake festival Festival in Myanmar
Festival on lake Inle Shortly after, a number of long canoes decorated for the holiday begin to arrive, some of which are governed by a crew of 100 rowers each. During the week of the first moon of October, the festival on Inle Lake celebrates its final day with the arrival of the sacred images of Buddha at the Paung Daw Oo Pagoda, after several days of procession along the lake itself. The whole procession takes 2-3 weeks, but the most spectacular day is the final day: in 2014 the final day of lake Inle festival was on October 11th, but it may change from year to year.
Canoe for competition on lake Inle
A long canoe governed by a crew of 100 rowers announces the imminent arrival at the destination of the sacred images of the Buddha brought in procession along the Inle lake during the previous weeks.
Festival in Burma Holiday in Myanmar
Burmese dancers

After a few minutes, more canoes festively decorated arrive and some of them has onboard Burmese dancers in their traditional costumes.
Sacred image of Buddha arriving at destination
Finally, the golden boat that contains the sacred images of Buddha and carrying the major religious authorities of Myanmar, arrives in the vicinity Paung Daw Oo.
Gold boat Karaweik boat
The Karaweik boat is characterized by some parts of solid gold, while others are laminated by gold leaf with the process we have already observed several times. Other parts are studded with precious stones. The shape of the golden boat is inspired by the mythical Karaweik bird having a melodious song.
Golden boat in Myanmar
The golden boat sailing on Lake Inle in Myanmar during the last day of Phaung Daw Oo festival.
Procession on lake Inle

Some photos of the gold Karaweik boat, carrying the major religious authorities of Burma. Upon reaching the destination at Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda on Inle Lake, the sacred image of Buddha is transferred from the boat to the pagoda itself, where the religious authorities gather together to pray.
Canoe race
Shortly after the arrival of gold boat, the celebrations continue with a race between canoes representing various villages of Inle Lake.
Festival Phaung Daw Oo Canoe race on Inle lake

Pictures of canoe races on Inle lake. The long canoes, which can be operated by teams of 100 rowers, compete in speed races on the waters of Inle lake during Phaung Daw Oo festival.
Canoe competition
There are of course also smaller canoes competing, including canoes driven by a single rower.
Phaung Daw Oo

At the end of the canoe race, the golden boat is "parked" in a sort of hangar, where it will remain until the next festival the following year. In the meanwhile, the waters of Inle Lake in front of Daw Oo Pagoda Phaung got completely filled with spectators coming from all corners of Myanmar (and not only).
Restaurant on stilts
After the festival of Inle Lake, the tour continues by exploring the lake itself, a real oasis of peace, where the inhabitants live in perfect symbiosis with water, moving by canoes, and building houses on stilts.
Homes on stilts Stilts
Bamboo homes Inle lake Myanmar
Photos of Inle Lake. The waters of Inle Lake are not very deep, so the the houses are built on stilts. Some buildings are built exclusively in bamboo, using the trunks for the supporting structures and twisted bark or leaves to create walls and roofs.
Inle lake
Some children are swimming in front of their house.
Wall made of baboo bark Twisted bamboo bark
The walls of the buildings, made from the bark and leaves of bamboo twisted together.

In a place where the dominant element is water, how to solve the problem of animal husbandry? In this case, pigs are housed directly inside a structure built on stilts.

Inle Lake is a region where labor is not only related to agriculture and fisheries, but the population tries to produce as much as possible locally. In these photos, an ironsmith.
Silk weaving Silk dyeing
Silk wires

Other small family run companies are engaged in the production of silk fabrics, including weaving and dyeing.
Lotus fiber
Lotus fiber on Inle lake Fabrics of lotus fiber in Myanmar
A real art of the weavers on Inle Lake, is the production of fabrics using the fibers present in the stems of lotus. The stems are harvested in the waters of Inle Lake (top-left picture), before being crushed by hand to extract the fibers (top-right picture). The fibers are then aggregated and transformed into a continuous wire (bottom-left picture), which is then woven through a classiv weaving machine (bottom-right picture).
Canoe maintenance
A canoe under maintenance.
Nga Phe Kyaung monastery Nga Phe Kyaung

The tour to Inle Lake continues by visiting Nga Phe Kyaung monastery, a teakwood structure built on 654 stilts. Inside the monastery there are numerous statues of Buddha and... a few cats ... living together with the monks.
Bamboo Buddha statue
In the temple of Nga Phe kyaung there is a beautiful statue of Buddha made ​​of bamboo fiber, with the process seen during the tour to Bagan (Panyun) . The feature of this statue is to be very lightweight, but durable (a kind of ecological variant of the carbon fiber).
Lake Inle Floating garden
How to produce vegetables in swampy areas permanently flooded? The Inle Lake is known for hosting floating gardens for various crops like tomatoes, a true hydroponic colture made possible by anchoring large bamboo rafts to the bottom of the lake, used to hold the substrate where crops actually grow. On the left photo we can see the channels that separate the gardens, while in the photo on the right there is a beautiful field of tomatoes.
The light poles anchored to the bottom of Lake Inle.
Canoe on Inle lake Inle
Pictures of Inle lake in Myanmar.
Paramount resort Paramount Inle lake
Accommodation on Inle lake Where to stay on Inle lake
Where to stay on Inle Lake? The Paramount Inle Resort is an eco-friendly accommodation offering the chance to sleep in the middle of Inle lake. Do not expect great luxury, but the setting is very picturesque and the rooms are not too expensive.
Cibo sul lago Inle
What to eat during a trip on Inle Lake? A typical dish of Inle Lake is a large fish that lives in the lake itself. Once well seasoned and spiced, with steamed vegetables as a side dish and some sauce, is an excellent try.

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