On a cloudless January afternoon, two tourists climb into bright-yellow kayaks and set out to explore Myanmar's Indawgyi Lake, one of the largest and most pristine bodies of freshwater in Southeast Asia. The lake's clear, still surface perfectly reflects the grassy wetlands fringing its shores and the forested mountains towering just beyond. The golden outline of Shwe Myitzu Pagoda—a pilgrimage site for local Buddhists, accessible only by boat during most of the year—shimmers on the horizon like a mirage. As in a holy place, speaking seems taboo here. Only the rhythmic slap-swoosh-drip of paddles breaks the kayakers' awestruck silence.