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Myanmar, Burma, Kalaw, Shan State - Pictures
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Myanmar, Burma. The monk reads writings..... Myanmar, Burma. The monk reads writings..... Myanmar, Burma. A monk's sleeping room in Thein..... Myanmar, Burma. A young monk sweeping Thein..... Myanmar, Burma. A Buddhist Shrine in Encounter..... Myanmar, Burma. Thein Taung Buddhist Shrine..... Myanmar, Burma. The Kalaw Station Emblem. Myanmar, Burma. A diesel locomotive in Kalaw.....
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Photograph from Lake Inle in Myanmar
Myanmar is one of those places where every second is a vertiginous accumulation of history, laughter and cranky reminiscences. I have hung one or two photo essays, as well as the tales that have remained with me in lively details. To be driven up a mound by a bunch of mothballing apes, to see Hpa-An go up in fire at midnight, a sun darkness on the Ayeyarwaddy with a Kachin boating team and a skipper who wants me to join him in singing caraoke.
I still have almost a thousand photos of Inle Lake and Mandalay and the Kachin State Fair in the far northern hemisphere that have never been seen before. Over the next few months I will publish photographic assays from Burma. They are not necessarily my best images, but those that take me back to the time I took them with a brief look.
One of Burma's most visited touristic places is Inle Lake. After spending almost a whole weekend in powdery Nyaungshwe, I woke up at the crack of dawn to make the most of the revolving lake fairs. The additional day also means that I had one or two walks in the Shan's outskirts and the opportunity to get a welcome tide from the sellers of the nightspot, who remember my face and my obsession with their thick Shan noodles, currys and tasty chapsat.
With almost 120 km2 the sea is huge and the many reed-lined swamps and channels zigzagging off the major river. If you think about Inle lake, think about it: An unpleasant but very efficient way of canoeing on the sea has made sure that every reference to Inle is immediately followed by a question about the catch.
It' s a well-trained skill; some of the tourist I meet tried their hands (well, foot) to paddle the boat and every one of them dropped into the water. It is also clear that each of my above photos still makes me laugh.
These are nice scenery alone - but there is much more in the area than just fishing and canoeing. To start with: the pond itself. In a clear sky, there is hardly a wave to be navigated and with the intricate labyrinth of side channels and creeks, each of which is surrounded by buildings on stilt posts adorned with cathedrals and colorful linen swaying in the wind.
With big eyes I glid through these hanging hamlets, astonished at how carefully the buildings were maintained and how each part of the building had a certain purpose. One of my first few outings on the pond, my boatman asked me if we ( "me and some other tourist who had bought a yacht for the day") would stop in his town.
This room was split into men and ladies, with the newlyweds and the bridegroom in front of the room between them. We ended our marriage celebration with a picture and a little hold of hands, followed by the whole marriage (including grooms and brides) piled up on the stairs of the building to say goodbye.
Get up a few early nights to conquer the market and I was prepared for something new. Not only did we get astray, but also when we walked through the branches of the Shan, when we dragged back to the other side of the pond and when we dodged in front of the branding paintbrush, the fire heats us up even more when we passed by.
One of the Wat caves for tribal women in the centre of Shan promontory, with prayer conducted by a friar who holds a cats. However, back to these market. There is a 5-day timetable for the market, which revolves around the pond so that every mountain people can go down to the sea for a walk.
The Pa-O were clad in light handkerchiefs on their head and colorful weaved pockets, unlike the other Burmese strains, and all wore brown linen lace-ups. Po-o-stuffed boots would go to the square every day and park in a messy spot of ink of woods and canoes, so that everyone who arrived later had to leap through all the boots to get ashore.
Entering and exiting the stores was a trick in itself; much good-natured screaming and laughter and manoeuvring to free the vessels. There was a vivid memory of me falling into a Pa-O ship when I came to the open air, my Longyis around me with all the tribal women who laughed and held it up so it wouldn't crash.
It was a delight to behold, light coloured herbs on the floor that led to the central area of the store, heaps of young samosa and coconuts, and rows of newly catched seafood for sal. Wandering for hour s-long aimless walks, taking photographs, getting new food into the hand of smiling salesmen, observing the matchless movements of the store as it came to an end for the night.
Each store also had its own floral department, with bouquets of floral motifs designed to fit hand cloths or bedspread. Nearly everyone at the fair went with their meals and shining cathedrals under their arms and the homes at the lakeside and in Nyaungshwe were all adorned with young branches, no matter when.
I' d get my proportion of great smile in the stores too and go around with my own bunch of crimson, whites and pinks. More and more the surrounding area of the lagoon was untouristic and the spring of some funny, twaddles. One of the older ladies at the fair took me to the side of the woods and I thought I had to piss and the all-purpose" sacred shit I have to pee" (leg across the other side, panic facial expression).
When I looked into the forest, I saw several Myanmar woman sitting there for free. There were several large timber structures along the shore of the pond on weavers' poles, with light red and blue coils on the wall and floor. Whilst the silkworm is present in various areas of Burma, Inle is also known for her loto weave, which is carefully woven with the long stalks of the Lotus herbal.
weaveries, several generation of weaver worked while we left. At first sight, I like how this photograph gives the impression that it is distant, unkind or melancholic, but seconds before (and shortly after) it broke out into a bubbly laugh. That was Burma too - the first looks melt and produce so much more, a complex land that cannot be reduced to a sentence of words.
The best places to eat are the early bird fairs, where you can try almost anything. If the bike has the bike shop elsewhere, Nyangshwe's Mingalar Marks still has tasty Shan pasta soup and tofusalate in the mornings. A small overnight fair takes place in the small city, with whole barbecued coriander and chilli ($1) filled seafood and a chapatis stall that serves big currys and giant, fleecy chapatis (50 cents) on shaky plastique table.
I used the Lonely Planet Guides to Myanmar. The useful website has launched a Myanmar tour guides since my journey, and its Inle Lake guides are here.