One day, my family and I biked around Inle Lake for ten kilometers to try to find a floating village. We passed crops of sugar cane, sunflowers and lentils. The sugar cane was 2 to 4 meters high. It was being harvested in the fields, then processed in a tiny factory right there, and made into sugar juice.
After biking for five kilometers we came to a little teak pier. We left our bikes and then walked to the end of the pier where we rented a canoe and hired a driver. To move around the floating village the driver paddled and we helped. It cost us 6000 kyats for an hour ($7 CAN). There are about 150 houses in the village and about 230 families.
A floating village is not actually floating. The houses are on stilts over a swampy area of the lake. The fisherman put their houses on stilts because during monsoon season the water rises. If the houses were not on stilts, the houses would flood and potentially be half way under water. To move around the floating village everybody has a canoe and everyone has to know how to paddle. The people in Inle have an unusual way of paddling. They paddle with one leg (see picture). This allows their hands to be free so that they can do other things, such as fishing with a net.
Each family seems to have at least one garden. The gardens are patches of floating earth held in place by bamboo poles. The families were growing a lot of fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, papayas, tomatoes and aubergines. The floating garden is also useful because during monsoon the water rises and so does the garden. This allows the farmers to grow food even during the monsoon season.
After visiting the floating village, we biked to the only winery in Myanmar where my parents tried a few types of wine. I had a cheese platter and some French fries, and my sister had some chicken fingers. The winery is located on a mountainside where we watched a nice sunset. After sunset, we biked back to our hotel to get some sleep so that the next day we could be ready for more biking – ugh! – another 10 kilometers up and down hill to find more temples!