Myanmar is a photographer’s dream. The magical hours of dawn and dusk seem to linger on a little longer here. Sunrises and sunsets seem just a little more vibrant. The people seem to be caught in another time.
Until recently, Myanmar’s borders were closed. It operated in isolation; an exile from the modern world. This is the only country we visited that doesn’t have a Starbucks, a McDonald’s or a KFC. After months of travel it was refreshing to find a corner of the world that had escaped globalization, that had retained its traditional dress, food and customs. Women don’t wear makeup here; instead they paint designs on their faces with a yellowish sunblock. Men don’t wear trousers; they opt for a sarong style garment called a longyi. And men and women alike wear wooden, wide-brimmed hats in the intense midday sun.
From our very first day, spent biking through residential Mandalay, we were struck by how friendly the people were. Everyone we came across shouted ‘hello’ or ‘mingalaba’ to us. Monks were happy to practice their English and several people stopped us to take pictures. Tourism is relatively new so the novelty of foreigners has not lost its appeal.
Even at Inle Lake, which has a high concentration of tourists, the proportion of tourists to locals is still low. Sure, there were a few dexterous ‘fisherman’ who didn’t fish at all and instead posed one-footed perched on their small boats looking for tips. But most of the locals continue fishing as they had for generations. We could have been looking back in time. And I couldn’t stop taking pictures…
-Ngapali Beach. We escaped to this quiet, beautiful beach for Mark’s birthday and were treated to some of the best meals of our trip, including this coconut seafood curry. The beach is just developed enough to have some nice hotels while retaining its fishing village vibe.
– The temples of Bagan. With over 2,000 ancient temples within a few square miles, it’s hard not to feel like a kid on a playground. We climbed temples and crouched through tiny passageways in search of the perfect one to watch the sunrise from.
– U-Bein Bridge. This is a charming teak bridge that’s perfect for sunsets. The monks here like to chat.
– Inle Lake. An entire village, that’s built on stilts, sits in the middle of this lake. The fisherman row with one foot, balance with the other and throw fishing line with their arms. It’s quite a feat. This man did it all while listening to music!