in late 2015 i traveled to burma (or myanmar as it is now known in most areas around the world) for a dedicated photography visit. it was an amazing time and over the thirteen days i met some fantastic people and was enchanted by this beautiful and diverse country. myanmar is still relatively new to tourists and even though people are beginning to flock here now that the burma secret is out, it still has an untouched feeling about it. on my arrival the nld with aung san suu kyi as the leader had just won the country's election from the military junta. you could sense the relief from the people as their hero who was under house arrest for over 15 years was now going to look after them.
my trip started off in yangon (formerly rangoon), where the shwedagon pagoda rules the skyline. the golden stupa of shwedagon radiates day and night
while in yangon i visited a number of places including morning markets and a monastery where the buddhist monks were studying schoolwork.
i went up to shwedagon for sunrise the next morning, an amazing pagoda full of dedicated buddhist locals, monks, nuns, glorious stupas and buddha statues.
i would be coming back to yangon at the end of the trip but my next city was only a short flight to bagan. bagan is a timeless area of myanmar with a littered landscape of thousands of pagodas and stupas that you can enter and climb up on to witness amazing sunrises and sunsets...i did each sunrise and sunset while i was there. each morning at sunrise hot air balloons would sail through the skies above the landscapes and lingering mist adding to the gorgeous scenery.
bagan also had a number of monasteries with young novice monks who enjoyed being in front of the camera. i also met a young boy who became a local guide and showed me around the wonderful bagan countryside to get the best photography spots. he was a standout in the traditional city with his blonde mohawk and burmese thanaka painted face.
after bagan i jumped on another plane to mandalay. mandalay is similar to yangon, a pulsing burmese city. i visited a school in mandalay where the children were beautiful and loved being photographed.
the mandalay area is also home to the well known u bein bridge. this bridge is made from teak and spans the taungthaman lake. it is believed to have been built in the 1850's and is the longest teakwood bridge in the world. the lake has a number of colourful long boats transiting across it and along with the bridge is a magnificent site at sunrise.
while in mandalay some fishermen casting their nets became a great foreground for a setting sun.
the last part of the trip was to the water villages of inle lake. i flew into heho and caught a bus to inle and on the way stopped at a beautiful wooden monastery with round windows at the front. there were a number of monks and a number of kittens inside these beautiful buildings.
inle lake was a great place to be my final destination. the lake was full of the locals who travelled on the lake as we do our roads. this was especially the case for the inthas who are the local fishermen who are often seen perched on the end of their boats, rowing it with their legs in their unique style and catching fish using their conical nets.
inle lake is also home to a number of kayan women who are adourned by the golden brass rings around their necks. it was amazing to see this women and girls all wearing their traditional rings that keep getting longer as they age. apparently the rings do not make the neck longer as often thought. they actually push the shoulders down and compress the rib cage which makes it look like their necks are longer. girls from the age of five start wearing the rings.
myanmar was a magical place and i would highly recommend it to anyone who loves traveling. i have been all over asia and myanmar remains as one of my favourite places to visit in the world. it has amazing untouched scenery and warm people that welcome visitors with open arms. definitely a destination i will continue to come back again and again...