Myanmar: The Traditional Fishermen of Inle Lake

Meet the Intha fishermen of Inle Lake in Myanmar, who still use an age-old technique for catching fish in the shallow water

[This article was written for Barcroft Media and published in The Telegraph, Lonely Plant, Evening Standard, MSN, The Guardian, and The Telegraph]

Using just one leg to balance on the front of the boat, these skilful fishermen use the other leg to guide their conical nets through the freshwater lake.

The skilled technique means the traditional fishermen can stand and look out for reeds in the water and also keep both hands free.

Shot by 32-year-old IT technician, Nuttawut Jaroenchai, the series of breathtaking images show the Burmese fishermen mastering the unusual technique just before dawn as they catch the fish that is later sold at markets.

Jaroenchai said: “This unique style evolved for the reason that the lake is covered by reeds and floating plants, making it difficult to see above them while sitting.

“Standing provides the rower with a view beyond the reeds. However, the leg rowing style is only practiced by the men.

“Women row in the customary style, using the oar with their hands, sitting cross-legged at the stern.”

The fishermen are a much-loved symbol of the Inle Lake, with the region’s men learning how to fish at the age of thirteen and retiring at around seventy-five-years-old.

The people of Inle Lake, also known as the Intha people, live in four cities bordering the water, in numerous small villages along the lake’s shores, and on the lake itself.

Inle Lake is the second-largest in Burma and the fishermen have drawn in many tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of the Intha men in action.

Sadly, the fishermen’s way of life is under threat as the lake is becoming smaller due to floating garden agriculture and silt washed down from slash and burn techniques in the surrounding hills.

Photographer Jaroenchai said: “It is such a pity that just a few fishermen are still fishing using this traditional technique.

“This inspired me to take the photos because younger generations don’t use this method to fish anymore, but they still teach it to younger generations.”

Many of the lake’s fishermen have now reverted to using motorboats and vast netting, just like the modern methods used by the majority of fishermen in Asia.

To view the full set of images, visit:


KeiKei is a London-based award-winning journalist and videographer with a degree in Broadcast Media and Journalism from the University of the West of Scotland and an extensive reporting background in news, entertainment, travel, and lifestyle.

KeiKei has travelled the globe interviewing, reporting and reviewing. Her work has been published in worldwide media outlets including, The New York Post, The Guardian, The Mirror, The Daily Mail, National Geographic and Conde Nast publications.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *