Myanmar: A Whole New Country to Explore

Fishermen on Lake Inle row their boats with one leg and an oar, balance on one foot and work their net with at the same time.

Fishermen on Lake Inle row their boats with one leg and an oar and balance on one foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INLE LAKE,  Myanmar — You have not experienced heat and humidity until you come to this Southeast Asian country. They have two types of weather: Hot and hotter.

Nevertheless, my latest photo safari is turning out to be an incredible exploration of a new country and culture. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, could be easily described as a Budhist state that was lost in time. But now, as you probably know from recent news reports, the military dictatorship that runs the place has decided to open to the rest of the world and promises human rights and democratic reforms.

Two young boys get a haircut in a village market on Lake Inle as their mother watches.

Two young boys get a haircut in a village market on Lake Inle as their mother watches.

I am here with a small group of five Vietnamese photographers led by my friend Long Ly. Long has been my guide and fixer for many of my eight trips to Vietnam where I have been shooting since 2005 for my book Vietnam 40 Years Later, which will be published next year. Long asked me to join his group, and so I find myself traveling with a group that speaks little English but seems to have no problems communicating friendship, the sharing of experience and the common pursuit of great photography.

We arrived in Yangon on Friday in time for dinner and went to bed early to get up before 5 a.m. to be at the Shwedagon Paya temple in time for sunrise photo shooting. After that we visited a nearby monastery to photograph an alms ceremony. And from there we headed to the bus depot, which is located about an hour out of town. We took an overnight, 12-hour bus trip to Inle Lake.

Arriving at the lake just before sunrise, we took a cab directly to a boat for a day of photo shooting fishermen, local villages, temples and more monasteries. After all that, I was nearly comatose from the lack of sleep, blistering sun and sunrise-to-sunset photo shooting.

But I am hoping the images here will show it was worth the effort.

A Burmese man smokes at a temple on Lake Inle.

A Burmese man, who collects donations at the entrance to a temple, smokes while waiting for visitors.

Young nuns line-up to receive gifts of food from local businesses.

Young nuns line-up to receive gifts of food from local businesses.

Worshipers make offerings of food and then pray at the XXXXX temple in Yangon.

Worshipers make offerings of food and then pray at the Shwedagon Paya Temple in Yangon.

Before prayers, the faithful pour water on an alter at the temple in Yangon.

Before prayers, the faithful pour water on an alter at the temple in Yangon.

Young monks pray before eating at a monastery in Yangon.

Young monks at the Kalaywa Tawya Monastery in Yangon pray before eating lunch.

Left, two monks find a hideaway for prayer together. Right, young monks take turns shaving heads and bathing at the Teak Wood Monastery near Lake Inle.

Left, two monks find a hideaway for prayer together in Yangon. Right, young monks take turns shaving heads and bathing at the Teak Wood Monastery near Lake Inle.

 

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