Myanmar: A Photographer’s Paradise

Below are photos from my trip to Myanmar with William Yu. It is hands down one of the most photogenic countries I’ve ever been to! Love the people, food, culture, and aesthetic.

At the bottom of this post are tips for traveling to Myanmar if you are planning  trip there!

You are not allowed to touch monks here. Otherwise I would squeeeeeze him.

The Inle Lake fishermen paddle with one leg so they have their hands free to grab the net. Watching them row with their leg I thought, “They must be ripped.” I should try it for exercise, though I’m certain I’d end up in the water.

At a lotus silk weaving factory.

The long neck women of the Padaung Tribe. They start wearing the brass coils when they are young and have soft bones. The coils push the shoulders down, giving the illusion of a longer neck – a sign of beauty and womanhood. Traditionally these are never taken off, except to get refitted when it’s time to add on an extra coil. Max coils is 25, and they are heavy!

Visited a monk school. They’re all orphans. They are available for adoption, though not many want to leave. From what I observed they have a comfortable life. Facilities are nice, they eat well, have good education (including learning French + English), and have camaraderie with the other boys. Here they are lining up for lunch. The older boys are in charge of lining up the younger ones.

He had his eyes closed during prayer and kept opening them to see if I was still taking photos. Sorry buddy, I’m here all day.

The dog walked into the shot. I got really excited.

Mya Wa Di Nunnery. They called me sista. “Hey sista.”

Hot air balloons over Bagan.

This lady saw that I loved her dogs so she got them together for a photo for me.

It was my husband’s first time in Asia. Love when we get to travel together.

The hazy air makes for beautiful sunrise and sunsets.

I got this outfit at the market. Muted orange is a commonly worn color found in the Inle Lake region. Saw some fishermen wearing it and really liked it. The bag is also the ones the locals bring to the market to put produce in and come in different colors and sizes. Stylish they are.

Thanks to our boat captain for taking this photo of us watching the sunset in Mandalay.

Tips for traveling to Myanmar:

  • December – February are the best months to go for photography. It’s also the best time to go if you don’t like scorching hot weather.
  • It’s dry and dusty in most places, so bring a face cover if you are sensitive to dust, smoke, and car exhaust.
  • The majority of places take US dollars. Bring CRISP NEW bills with no marks on them. They don’t accept any bills that have imperfection. Literally.
  • If you plan to visit temples (there are a lot of them), wear sandals or shoes that are easy to slip on or off. Also pack wipes if you prefer to wipe off your feet before putting your shoes back on.
  • Cover up when entering temples. Chest, upper arms, and thighs should be covered.
  • Do not touch the monks or nuns. Some people instinctively want to touch their heads (especially the cute little kids monks). Do not touch.
  • Tipping is common.
  • They have a bargaining culture.
  • If you are visiting in winter months, the morning and evenings get cold. Bring a good jacket, especially if you are visiting Inle Lake. Those motorboat rides get cold!

And the most common question I’ve gotten is, “Did you feel safe there?.”

Absolutely. The people are lovely.

At first I had hesitation booking a trip to Myanmar after reading about the Rohingya crisis. At the same time I knew a lot of people who have visited the country, and highly recommended to go.

My favorite thing about traveling is seeing things from a human perspective. It’s too easy to assume and in today’s political climate it’s more important than ever to listen and take time to learn what’s going on.

Bad things happen everywhere. I love living in America and there are also things happening here that I think can give off a bad impression. Do those wrong-doings represent our entire country? What if someone abroad watched the news about the mass shootings that have happened? I don’t think it’s fair to judge this entire country based on that. The majority of things don’t even get covered by the news, let alone properly.

If there is one thing I’ve learned, is you can’t judge something unless you’ve experienced it. I traveled to Greece a few years ago and visited a refugee camp. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. The images were not those shown in the news. The stories I heard from talking to refugees were never aired or written about in mainstream media.

Anyway, I learned more about the Rohingya issue while in Myanmar and now have a better understanding of the possible “what and why’s.” Most locals don’t have much interest in politics unless it involves their own livelihood because making a living is challenging – they are laser focused on surviving and providing for their family. We were also in Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake – far from where everything was happening. Currently it’s near Myanmar’s borders that the government doesn’t recommend to go. On the China side there is a drug lord war, and on the Bangladesh side, the Rohingya crisis. Everywhere else is rated 2 in safety, the same as visiting the UK. This is as of February 2019.

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