Event Detail


Webtalk : "Inle Lake: Myanmar's Cradle of Life"

Ju Shen Lee
Thursday, 7 Oct 2021
The event is free of charge for members. For guests or non members, the registration fee is $50. The webinar link is going to be sent at 12.30 pm on Tuesday, 17 August.

In this talk, Ju Shen tells the story of Inle Lake, the extraordinary cradle of life nestled in the verdant hills and mountains of the Shan Highlands in eastern Myanmar. The freshwater lake is home to countless endemic fish species and migratory birds, and was declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve site in 2015. Its large size, at over 100 sq km and shallow depth of only 1.5 metres, allows plants to grow over the entire base of the lake, leading to a uniquely verdant ecosystem, with over 100 species found nowhere else.

The people of Inle live in simple wooden stilt houses built over the lake that are clustered in nearly 50 villages, all connected by waterways. The larger villages host stilt Buddhist temples, schools and shops.  Embedded in some of these villages are Inle Lake’s renowned cottage industries, most notably spinning, weaving and textile dyeing.  The largest villages also boast open-air lakeshore markets, where the local fish catch is sold to far and wide.

Ubiquitous long, narrow, shallow-draft, wooden boats are the sole transportation mode for all the people and all purposes: fishing, farming, water taxis, and transport to the schools, shops, and markets.  At a very early age, everyone acquires the necessary balance, agility, and knowledge to row these boats.  The fishermen use a unique one-leg rowing technique that keeps their hands free to manage their nets. They also use specialised techniques to fish the abundant aquatic life in economically and ecologically sustainable ways.

Ju Shen Lee is from Malaysia and went to school in Malaysia, the USA and Singapore.  She went to university in the United Kingdom, gaining a BSc in Geography and Geology and a MSc in Environmental Science.  She has worked in Malaysia, Singapore and the USA.  She currently resides in Singapore working at a US multinational as the Global Environmental and Sustainability Manager. 

She is an accomplished photographer.  Her international experience, geography and geology degrees, and global environmental and sustainability management career, give her an empathetic eye for the synergy and symbiosis of nature, life, culture and religion.  Ju Shen has undertaken photo-expeditions to Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.

She has won several international competitions, most notably the prestigious 2016 Asia-Europe Foundation Prize and the acclaimed 2020 Beau Monde Traveler Magazine Grand Prize.  Her photographs were displayed the Royal Geographical Society (London) Earth Photo 2021 Exhibition.  She has published two books on Luang Prabang in Laos, Life & Prayer and The Monks, and a book on Inle Lake, Ingenious Lives.

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