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Inle Lake - The Place that Time Forgot!

Ever want to get away from it – the hectic pace of everyday life; the bombardment of sights and sounds of urban life; and people people everywhere all rushing to get someplace else. Ever wish you could step back in time to a simpler life free from the stress and the problems associated with all the ills that have come with “progress”. I do -- and I found such a place.

The place is Inle Lake and it is in Myanmar (formerly Burma) in SE Asia. It is the perfect place to step back in time and enjoy the life much as it was a hundred or more years ago. Inle Lake is located 3,000 feet high up in the mountains of Shan State, reachable by an hour’s plane trip from either Yangon or Mandalay to neighboring Heho and another half-hour journey by car.

Inle Lake is, in a word, serene. The lake and the scenery are enchanting, hazy in the mornings, sunny with billowing clouds in the afternoon and alive with color at sunset.

Visiting Inle Lake is leaving the world, its hustle and bustle and its frantic pace, far far behind -- like stepping into another time and place -- indeed a paradise of peace, tranquility and harmony.

The people of Inle Lake, some 70,000 of them, live in four cities bordering the lake, in numerous small villages along the lake’s shores and on the lake itself. Most live in simple stilt houses of woven bamboo and are largely self-sufficient, living much as their forefathers did.

In addition to fish caught by their picturesque "leg-rowing" fishermen, they actually raise vegetables and fruits on gardens floated on the surface of the lake and carry on small industries with hand labor to produce goods for local use and trading. Their five-day markets, which rotate between different places around the lake, serve as the basic shopping “malls” with sales conducted from boats on the lake.

But it is the fact that neighbors help fellow neighbors in time of need that reminds me of more innocent days in the U.S., before drugs, before rampant crime and before fears of security. They are simple people, living simple lives, with boats as their only means of transportation. Long boats carry produce and tourists, some with motors, leaving rooster tails in their wake. Residents cook and heat with wood. Many residents still do not have electricity. Step back in time when you view these pictures -- then put Inle Lake on the top of your vacation list. It is truly a place that is timeless.

About the Author
Sam Stearman moved to Hong Kong in 2003 from San Diego CA. Since relocating, he has been an active traveler and photographer, a member of PSA and a General Committee member of FAPA – Hong Kong & Macau Chapter. His work “Sam’s Exotic Travels” can be found on the web at www.samsays.com