Why I Love Inle Lake
Two Reasons

In my lifetime, I have had the good fortune of traveling in both North America and overseas. I have been a tour guide, have had tour guides, and have traveled on my own. I have never been to any place on my travels that has not fascinated me. Additionally, travel also is an excellent teacher. As George Santayana said, “A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.”

For over two decades of teaching at the college level, I have always expressed the value of travel to all my students. If they truly want to be educated, travel is the only option. Classroom education is two-dimensional. Once a person spreads his or her wings and travels, that person puts the third dimension to that person’s learning and changes ones Weltanschauung.

Let me tell you about Inle Lake. Where is Inle Lake, you ask? It is in Myanmar. And many Americans couldn’t find that country on a map. While that is true, that country changed me. I have had, in the past dozen years, four transformative changes in my life. Three of those were dancing with death: a traumatic brain injury, prostate cancer, and coronavirus. All three potential deaths resulted in blessings. The fourth systemic change was my journey to Myanmar.

I went to Myanmar to realize a long-held dream of interviewing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and failed. However, I had the opportunity to see an amazing country. Yangon, which was called Rangoon, is still the capital of Myanmar for most of the world’s embassies, including our own. In fact, the US government still uses the terms: Rangoon and Burma. Myanmar’s capital is Nay Pyi Taw (Naypyidaw), which is nearly 400-miles from Yangon.

Yangon is a mix of local and British architecture, since Burma was a colony of the British. It has many Buddhist shrines, pagodas, and other fascinating places. In addition to Yangon, Myanmar has other places that are must see places like Mandalay, Bagan, Ngapali, Mt. Popa’s Taung Kalat Monastery, Loikaw, the Golden Rock, the teak bridge, and the list goes on.

Six years ago, I had a private tour of many of those places including Inle Lake in Shan State. Inle Lake is the morphing together of the past and the present. It is about 14 miles long and in places 6-7 miles wide. What is fascinating is that it is relatively shallow. It ranges from 5-12 feet deep. The lake is obviously used for fishing. Interestingly, it has nine different types of fish that aren’t found anywhere else in the world.

They also grow various vegetables on the many floating farms on Inle Lake. The floating farms grow tomatoes, eggplant, string beans, squash, etc.

Around the perimeter of the lake, many of the farmers of the floating farms live in floating homes.

Also, Inle Lake is a part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and the Man and the Biosphere. Both organizations address the means to balance nature and people. While Inle Lake blends the past and the present, it is a beautiful place to visit. I have been on three trips to Myanmar in the past six years. I have spent more time on the lake than any other American tourist. I love the lake.

Having said that, it isn’t the only reason that I love Inle Lake. On my first trip to Inle Lake, I met my granddaughter, Ti Ti. We played Scrabble in her living room. If Ti Ti is my granddaughter, her two younger sisters are also my granddaughters and her parents are my children. Meeting my Myanmar family was my fourth systemic change, along with my three dances with death. Those four events radically altered the way I view life. I returned to see my family two years ago and again during winter break from teaching a couple of months ago.

When I was visiting them on this recent trip, I attended an awards ceremony for academically gifted students. Ti Ti won the award for being first in math in all of Shan State. She is brilliant. I say that she got her IQ from my side of the family, but no one buys that comment. A couple of months ago, we were celebrating her achievements before she headed off for college.

However, COVID-19 arrived first. Myanmar and the rest of the world is dealing with the coronavirus. College will have to wait awhile, but as people in Myanmar shelter in place, Ti Ti is labeling probably a thousand or more photographs that I took on my last trip. The first group of photos are ones that I took on Inle Lake. Click on Travels. Ti Ti has finished link to Inle Lake.

After the coronavirus has come and gone, consider traveling to Myanmar. You will enjoy the journey, and you may discover a part of your family. Man, I’m happy that I traveled to Myanmar; it is a game changer for me.