Phaung Daw oo Pagoda Festival -Inle lake, Myanmar

On the beautiful Inle Lake, the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival takes place once a year (sometime in September to October -dates vary).  For 18 days there are spectacular events of boat racing with their unique leg rowing techniques. People come from all over Myanmar to pay homage to the Buddha Images.

Matias, Fanny and I then head up to Inle Lake as we heard that the Phaung Daw OO Pagoda Festival was happening -This year the dates are: September 28 – October 15, 2011.

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Getting to Nyaung Shwe -Inle lake, Myanmar

We booked a bus to Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake, through our hotel for $15!

Everything in Myanmar has a tourist price – making it a relatively expensive country to travel. It is better to go to the bus station yourself to get the best deals but you also have to be careful to not book a government operated bus – unless you want to support them…!

Where to Stay in Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake

We arrive with the early morning dew and head to Queen Inn: Win Quarter, Nyaung Shwe, 095-81-209544/095214659 queen.inle@gmail.com.

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Wow! This privately run hotel offers bungalows for $12 (we split it between 3) and the friendliest, most generous staff you will ever meet.

The price includes breakfast and even though we had not stayed there the previous night they immediately made us delicious banana pancakes! (:

(Throughout our stay they kept giving us treats and were full of smiles and helpful information – it felt a bit like leaving family when we departed).

The activities of the festival happen in the early morning so, after convincing two other travelers to join us and split the cost of the boat, we head out on the lake that same morning.

Experiencing the Phaung Daw oo Pagoda Festival

As we set out it begins to pour – cold but beautiful with black storm clouds clinging to the mighty peaks, which frame the lake on all sides. Our boatman first takes us to the festival.

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Phaung Daw oo Festival is a ceremonious transfer of five small buddha’s, which are coated by gold leaf to the point that they look like gold blobs.  Every morning at around 7am, the statues, mounted in their giant, gold, floating temple, are rowed by a string of over thirty long boats to one of 14 new temple in the lake.

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Each long boat is manned by about 50 men/boys who perform the coolest synchronized foot rowing you’ll ever see.

Each boat has its own color, style and music – some seem a little more orderly and pull their weight while others seem to have more fun just dancing to the music. (: All in all it is a spectacular sight!

Check out this video with a glimpse of the Phaung Daw oo Pagoda Festival

Villages around Inle Lake, Myanmar

Mr. Boatman then takes us to see some villages.

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phaung daw oo pagoda, phaung daw oo pagoda festival, inle lake Myanmar, myanmar highlights, highlights of myanmar

Towns thriving in the middle of a lake, floating gardens – literally – they bring in dirt and place it on woven reeds and grow all kinds of herbs and vegetables.

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How they survive and the industries they create are outstanding: weaving – using string made from lily pads, fashioned jewelry, crafted umbrellas and many other creative means of survival – all from scratch and all in the middle of a lake with water under every doorstep!

Flooding in the Village

The next day the town is flooded! Wading through town – water to my knees – I admire the persistence of one tour guide still trying to get me to come into her flooded store and book a tour.

When I laughed and motioned that there is no place for me even to sit, she motions to one tiny corner of the store that has not yet flooded! (;

We decide to head to Mandalay that evening but with the waters still rising in town we have to rent a truck to get us to the bus station – and even this barely makes it through the rising waters!phaung daw oo pagoda, phaung daw oo pagoda festival, inle lake Myanmar, myanmar highlights, highlights of myanmar

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Seeing the Phaung Daw oo Pagoda Festival -Inle lake, Myanmar was such a cool experience to see a popular festival that draws so many people all over Myanmar to take part in it.  I enjoy seeing traditions and festivals around the world.  Have you been to any festivals lately?
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Comments

  1. Beautiful photos -with that dark sky and water, your photos and the contrast are stunning. What a unique festival especially with the way they row. Is it hard for them to row like that? It seems clumsy.

  2. Do the boats have engines or are they only powered by the rowing?

  3. How much/little money do you think you can travel around SE Asia on for 1-2 months?
    How do you usually find out about the different festivals and places to see/visit?
    Do you usually feel safe as a girl traveling by yourself?
    Any tips/advice you can give? -Sally

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