“Luckily I don’t have to do that much manual labour. I’m more the foreman who can take on contracts and hire builders. My four sons are also working in the family business and they are involved in a restaurant that I’ve been commissioned to build in Nyaung Shwe.
You have to consider a lot of things when building a house on Inle Lake. The ground is softer and of course you have to think about when the rainy season hits and the water shed as the water rises. Houses on the lake are built usually on two floors – the top floor being where the family lives and the bottom, which they use as storage space and a cooking area.
Getting the materials to the lake is logistically challenging at times. The pillars that are used in the stilt houses come from Loikaw, in Kayah State; the wood is sourced from Taungyi and for the roofing, we can get from here in Nyaung Shwe. But all of this has to be transported by boats and then hauled and lifted, relying heavily on sheer manpower.
Apart from the traditional Inthar houses we build on the lake, we also custom build houses on land. In Nyaung Shwe, the buildings are less traditional and we have a bit more creative license. Being a builder in the rainy season is often quiet so in the downtime, I operate a furniture making business.
I helped build the Inle Princess Resort when it first opened in the 90s. The area backs onto natural wetland and we had to build up the ground and lay a foundation that was strong enough to build bungalows but that also did not disturb the natural environment. We had to dig a waterway from the lake that would give access to the hotel so guests could come by boat. Luckily the location of Inle Princess Resort backs on to land and it is shallow on the lake front, so we were able to expand the bungalows quite a bit.”
U Than Maung
Eaint Daung Kyi