Floating Gardens & Fishing Villages in Inle Lake
The floating vegetable garden is the first thing that hits your eyes when coming to the lake. Undoubtedly, it is the top thing to see on every Inle Lake tour. Floating gardens in Inle Lake are the brilliant creation of the Intha made on the surface of the water. The farmers on the lake create the unique garden by hyacinth roots and seaweed. The top is the mud, using thousands of bamboo sticks to keep the garden on the lake and not drifting away. The floating gardens are home to a bunch of chilies, cucumber, peanut, tomato, etc. And even flower gardens is one of the special creation of the resident here. A boat trip in your Inle Lake tour package will allow you to discover the home of the country’s tomato production and learn about these exceptional farming methods.
Together with the unique floating garden, the iconic leg-rowing fishermen are must-see attraction in an Inle Lake tour. Take this opportunity to save the most iconic image of leg-rowers at the fancy twilight moment. Most of the fishermen are men. Specifically, those fishermen use one leg to stand on the nose of the boat and another leg to hold a pole. They use two arms for netting and fishing. If you want to join in this experience in your Inle Lake day tour, just ask the Intha guide you how to do.
Flood protection and floating gardens
Why the Intha people decided to build villages on the lake is unclear. Protection from invasion and competition for land between ethnic groups could have been part of the reason. Regardless of the original reasons, one benefit of living on water is flood protection. Stilt houses provide flood protection even on land because they allow flooding below the house. Building a village on the lake provides additional flood protection because the society already relies on water transport. The water level varies throughout the year and the stilts need to be high in order to account for this variation.
The Intha people don’t just build houses on the lake, and Inle Lake is also known for its floating gardens. These floating gardens are essentially man-made islands composed of reeds and plants, primarily water hyacinth which is an invasive plant that grows on the lake. While the houses don’t actually float, the gardens do and this makes them even more flood resistant. As the water level drops and rises, the man-made islands move with the water level. Growing food on the lake also increases the total land available for agriculture, and there is easy access to water for irrigation, even during the dry season.
The floating gardens are used to grow vegetables and the lake is especially known for its tomato cultivation. Because of the climate and the easy access to water, tomatoes can be grown all year round on Inle Lake, unlike in the rest of Myanmar. The floating gardens are so successful that they have become a business that not only provides food for the locals but also a source of income. The food production was initially small-scale and meant for local consumption, but better market routes have increased the production, and a considerable portion of the lake area is now covered by these floating gardens.