Inle Lake & The Jumping Cat Monastery

Inle is a lake that is 13 miles long by 7 miles wide, with a shoreline that is almost impossible to see due to all the floating vegetation. There are numerous villages that build houses on stilts and grow vegetable crops on top of the weed mats.  It’s a floating world, everyone coming and going by long skinny boats.  The method of propulsion for the non-motorized boats is by a unique standing rowing technique.  One foot is wrapped around the oar and this foot performs a wavy motion as it is pulled back and then set forward again for the next pull.  It’s quite unique.

There is a fabulous wood temple and monastery called the Jumping Cat Monastery, or Nga Hpe Kyaung, built out on the lake. This is one of the few all wood temple buildings I have seen. There were many high quality Buddhas set on exquisite detailed wood pedestals, surrounded by more refined gilded woodwork. One of the metal Buddhas seemed very Tibetan, and there was a teaching throne of gilded woodwork with steps that I had not seen in Burma before. This too is a common feature for teaching lamas.  The extensive fine woodwork around the statues felt Japanese or Chinese.

There were actually jumping cats there and I witnessed them jumping through a hoop. Wonders will never cease.

At Phaung Daw Oo Paya I stopped to pay my respects to four ancient Buddha images that had become so covered by gold leaf by devotees that they had become amorphous blobs. Not much to see. I guess it’s all in the mind.

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