Surprising Inle Lake in Myanmar…but without Jumping Cats

by Emiel van den Boomen on January 24, 2015

Congestion of boats at Inle Lake

Inle Lake is one of the major tourist attractions in Myanmar. The lake itself is really beautiful where we loved navigating through the floating gardens the most. More about that later…

But how come that somehow we felt the Inle Lake can easily become the next big tourist trap? For example, do you really believe the Jumping Cat Monastery offers you what its name so clearly promises? Or do you think you these boats will forget to bring you to some handicraft stores?

OK, this post starts a bit different from what you might expect…..don’t worry though, but I just want to get something off my chest first.

Inle Lake entry fee

I don’t like when so-called government officials (young kids not older than 20) make your taxi stop upon arriving at Inle Lake and have you pay 10 USD each just to enter the town of Nyaungshwe.

A barrier across the road with a stopping sign. They boy smiles showing his teeth stained red from chewing beetle nut for years and years…. “What if we just don’t pay?” I asked the boy. “Well, then you cannot enter the town“.

End of story. Because there is only one road leading into town.

It’s a ridiculous tax, going directly to the government (which for sure doesn’t have a very good reputation). I hope they spend it to preserve the lake. But I doubt it.

Show-fisherman Inle Lake

Or what about this one. This fishermen is the first one you see when you arrive at the actual lake. But he is not fishing at all. He does his balancing act just for tourists and afterwards asks for a bit of money.

Longneck woman at Inle Lake

Longnecks. Yes, they came down to Inle Lake in Myanmar to show their weaving skills (and to show their famous long necks to everyone interested). It’s quite sad to be honest, don’t you think?

Cigar manufacturing at Inle Lake

When you book a tour of the lake your ‘captain’ will bring you to various handicraft factories and adjacent stores: silk, jewelry, wood carvings and yes, cigars. It’s almost like Cuba! You will be shown how cigars are made here at Inle Lake, and yes, it does look extremely easy to do. The ladies will for sure light one for you, no problem. “Wanna buy?”

Making cigars and smoking them

The boat tour will surely also bring you to the famous Jumping Cat Monastery. OK, it’s a beautiful wooden monastery on poles and it does have cats…but they are not jumping. Not at all! Some story from the past where and old monk trained his cats to jump. These were cute little cats (kids loved them; not me, I hate cats) at the monastery but I couldn’t catch them doing any kind of trick…

Jumping cats at monastery?

Is it all that bad? Not at all!

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