Oh how I love to get me some good market! Lake Inle has a great market. Local hill people come down for the market and sell their things. Thailand has got nothing on this place.
We stayed at the Mingalar Inn in Nyaungshwe. It was amazing! Best breakfasts we had the whole time. I still remember the thin banana pancakes. The people who own the place couldn’t have been any more accommodating or helpful. They even arranged plane tickets for us.
One of (many of) Myanmar’s quirks is that steering wheels are on the right and cars drive on the right. That means that when passengers exit a bus or any other vehicle, it’s always in the middle of the road in the worst traffic.
We bought a bag of some amazing green tea from this lady. I would describe it as woody and buttery. So good.
Our guide around the lake. Great guy.
This is the only place in the world where fishermen stand up, paddle with one foot, throw a net cage into the water, and then spear the fish. How else would you fish in a 5 foot deep grass filled marsh?
When the water is up they can use nets too.
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To start, I’ve been waiting to take pictures at the U Bein Bridge for well over 8 years, so this was a major accomplishment for me. U Bein bridge is the longest teak bridge in the world. Who cares? It turns out that it is also one of the best travel photography locations that I have ever experienced shooting. I would rank it up there with the old town in Sanliurfa, Turkey. Of course, when you get there it’s never just how you imagine it to be, but I’m used to that. For instance, based on my research, I was expecting the sun to rise on the other side of the bridge! Turns out that I should have tried to come to the bridge at sunset, instead of sunrise. I’ll just have to go back and try again. In fact, last night, there was a large AirAsia sale, and I purchased tickets to return to Myanmar for Nov. 2012. Can’t wait.
Ideally, the sun would be rising behind the bridge and I would be shooting dark silhouettes in front of a blazing orange sky with perhaps some mist on the water to add to the ambiance.
I ended up spending a long time talking with the monk above. He was really intelligent, curious and kind. After talking for well over an hour, he invited us to come back to his monastery with him.
In Myanmar it is common for people to carry around cages of birds that you can pay a fee to release. It has something to do with a spiritual belief that it brings good Karma or something (obviously I don’t know specifics). What they neglect to tell you is that the birds are trained to return to their homes, so that they can be gathered up and sold again the next day.
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Temple, Buddha, temple, Buddha, temple, Buddha. That’s kind of what we did for three days in Bagan. Basically, everyone rents bicycles and rides around the almost 2200 temples, which are packed into a 4 X 4 mile square.
We stayed at the Kumudara hotel, which is located in New Bagan. Location was a big deal for me, because I knew that I would have to get up well before the sunrise and ride a bicycle to specific temples for sunrise pictures. The best places for sunrise pictures are near Old Bagan, but they all cost well over $100 per night, and cater to bus-riding package tourists. For me Kumudara fell right into the middle of the intersection of location, value and comfort. As with most places in Myanmar, the staff were amazing, and would happily go out of their way to answer any question you might have, or make a phone call to book you a place in the next town. We also rented a horse and carriage for one day. The driver was a lot of fun, and took us around until well after sunset. It was a great value, and I was happy for the chance to invest in him and his family.
Hot air ballooning is popular in Bagan. It looked fun, but it would have cost Anne and I almost $700 to go for an approx 1-hr flight. Too rich for my blood.
Some of the Buddhas were massive. I’d guess that this one is over 40 feet tall.
Kind of a weird sunbeam thing. I’m guessing it’s because I’m shooting with a cheapo 70-300 f4-5.6 lens. I leave my pro telephoto lenses at home when I travel, because they are way too heavy for me.
If you look carefully, you’ll notice small photographers up on the temple shooting the sunrise.
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Yangon was a blast. I loved all the British colonial architecture and street layouts. For a capital city, the past has been preserved amazingly well. Due the historic feel of the place, it quickly became my favorite capital city in SE Asia.
We stayed at the Mother Land Inn 2. It was a decent place, with a decent location, and an absolutely wonderful staff. They have an airport pick up service that is not to be missed- a chance to ride on an ancient old bus with a transmission that grinds its way through the city. I also appreciated that everyone else at Motherland was backpacking through Myanmar just like Anne and I. There was a real camaraderie shared amongst us. In the morning everyone eats breakfast together, and in the evening everyone sits out front and has beers and smokes. It’s a great chance to hook up with new travelers, or get information and advice from people who have already traveled to the places you will be going.
Shwedagon Pagoda the largest most holy sight in Myanmar. The dome on the right is made out of gold. Actually, it seems like everything in Myanmar has at least a little gold on it.
Betel – Many of the locals chew Betel, as it is reported to alter moods and produce euphoria. It also stains their mouths and teeth dark red. There are thousand of stands around the city selling betel. Here a man is rolling up betel and other ingredients inside of leaves so that it can be chewed. It’s kind of gross but you get used to it quickly.
Young novices out collecting money in the morning.
Street markets are everywhere in Yangon.
Food stalls are everywhere in Yangon.
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