16 April, 2015

“This. Is. Burma… Quite unlike anywhere you know about.” – Kipling c. 1890

Having only very recently opened up to the outside world, Myanmar still retains many of her local charms and traditions and is still a true adventure to visit. Just as Kipling stated all those years ago, Myanmar is a country quite unlike any other. Her people are some of the most delightful to interact with, her landscapes are some of the most untouched in the world, and her history is one of the most colourful to unearth.This photo series explores the daily life of the Burmese people, and why you really need to visit now.

Beautifully backlit monks crossing the U-Bein Bridge at sunset. The bridge runs over the Taungthaman Lake in Mandalay and is one of the most photographed areas of Myanmar and we can certainly see why!

A group of make-up clad female farm workers head off to work on the road to Pindaya. The yellowish make-up on their faces, known as thanaka, is made from ground bark and has been a tradition in Myanmar for over 2000 years. Not only is it a cooling sunscreen, but it also works to reduce wrinkles, smooth skin and fight acne. Plus it smells pretty great too… Why don’t we sell it here again?

Read more: Myanmar group tour for solo travellers in their 30s & 40s

These little cuties were out in force to celebrate the changing of the monks’ robes; a celebration known as Tazaungdaing Festival. Held on the eve of a full moon in October or November each year it is a lively and exciting celebration that fills the streets with cheerful locals and firecracker wielding children.

Fishermen in Myanmar have to be extremely brave as they often end up neck deep in the snake filled waters of the Ayeyarwady river. After collecting their fish, they store them in cloth “bags” held at their crotch region before selling them at the local market. Noice 😉

A young monk studies in the Mahar Gandar Yone Monastery. Many young boys (and even some girls!) train as Buddhist novices throughout Myanmar and, while their time in the monastery is often very short, they study the teachings of Buddhism with masses of dedication. Getting up at 4am they spend their days reciting prayers, meditating and learning everything about the path to enlightenment.

Read more: Why now is the time to visit Myanmar

A group of young Buddhist novices reading the scriptures in Mahar Gander Yone Monastery. It is believed that boys who have served as novice monks are noble and therefore are more respected as men in later life.

Not only are the fishermen of Myanmar incredibly brave they are also incredibly acrobatic as we can see from this wonderful picture taken on the Inle Lake. Looks like someone has been very good at doing his sun salutations in the morning!

Anyone who has been to Asia will recognise this sight, but did you know that the government in Myanmar has actually banned all motorbikes in Yangon?! Nobody is entirely sure why but there are a few rumours… Either way, there is nothing better – or should we say stranger – than crossing the road in an Asian city without the fear of being hit by a motorbike carrying an entire family/farm/home.

A fisherman in the Ayeyarwady River, otherwise called “The Road to Mandalay”. We do hope he isn’t planning on walking the entire way…

A Burmese monk feeding an adorable stray pup in Yangon. In recent years there has been an increase in stray animals, especially throughout Yangon, but they can always count on the kindness of the monks for food and water, as well as much needed cuddles!

Read more: A life-changing rite: your stories of solo travel

We found this wonderful monk delivering food to his neighbours in a small village near the Inle Lake. The local children joined him on his journey and helped him hold his belongings, as well as avoid the puddles!

We passed this playful child on the road to Kalaw. Water buffalo are a popular sight throughout Myanmar but watching this gentle giant wander along the roadside happy to carry the child on his back was a truly special experience.

A group of women working the rice fields around Inle Lake. Women in Myanmar have traditionally held a very high social rights and status, often equating that of their male counterparts. That has allowed them to inherit land, rule villages and even hold very high positions among the ruling elite. Girl Power!

A group of Buddhist novices share a moment of reflection at sunset outside the Maha Gandar Yone Monastery, Mandalay.

Kipling said of the Shwedagon Pagoda: a golden mystery upheaved itself on the horizon, a beautiful winking wonder that blazed in the sun”. Here, in the early morning sun, we can see exactly what he was talking about. There is nothing more peaceful than joining the pilgrims giving gifts at sunrise, well except maybe a trip to Macleod Island in Myanmar…

During the Summer months the U-Bien Bridge appears high over the land below, but when the rains come the Taungthaman Lake gets so high that it licks the top of the bridge. Each morning and evening this simple teak bridge carries farmers, monks, locals and tourists alike as they cross the lake into Mandalay.

If you are feeling inspired by these wonderful images and want to know how you can have experiences just like this, why not join us on our next trip to Myanmar? Find out more.

*All images taken during our Flashpacking group tours of Myanmar

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