For every traveler, there is always that one place which truly resonates. A place that you deeply connect with and gives you a strong sense of belonging. After experiencing Madagascar last year, I didn’t think I would find another place that stirs up such feelings – but Myanmar changed my mind. Having been isolated from the world, this country offers time travel, back to the days when roads were non-existent, creaking buses throttled along with hundreds of passengers onboard, and locals greeted one another like old friends. It is a country that fuels your emotions with its thousands of sacred stupas, poetic Buddhist towns, and mystical lakes.
As beautiful as Myanmar is, it’s the people who really captivated me. In this raw and untouched country, every you look, there are betelnut-chewing men with traditional longyi cloths wrapped around their loins, and women spotting white thanaka powder on their faces. And almost all of them wear a smile and a sparkle in their eyes. Before arriving in Myanmar, I had imagined its people to be subdued and conservative – after all, they had been isolated from the outside world for almost 15 years. But children and adults alike were always eager to shake our hands or talk to us. I lost count of the number of people who came up to us and said, “Thank you for coming to Myanmar. Welcome to our country!” Whether it was the monk who chatted with me for hours on the train, or the taxi-driver who told us stories about Myanmar, they were the ones who made this place so special.
Here’s a photographic tribute to Myanmar, showcasing its beautiful people and their endearing spirit. Hope they’ll give you a glimpse into their world.
A young boy gives me a nod of approval as we snap of a shot of him on the train from Bagan to Mandalay. He’s wearing thanaka on his face, a tree bark cream commonly used as a sunscreen.
A group of children are having a bath along the banks of the Inle Lake as we zip by on our dugout canoe. They wave and cheer loudly, happy to see tourists coming for a visit.
Using traditional fishing techniques, this fisherman sails out to the middle of Inle Lake in search of his catch of the day.
In the murky water of Inle Lake, a teenager scrubs down his water buffalo, an animal extremely important to rural Burmese families who depend on it for labor.
A young man rows out on his boat along the Irrawaddy River in Mandalay. He’s also seen wearing thanaka cream on his face as a way to protect his skin from the sun.
Vendors sell fruits in Inn Dein, a village along the bank of Inle Lake .
A Karen minority tribe lady spots hard golden bangles around her neck. We met her at a workshop at Inle Lake – they don’t usually live in the area but have moved there to find work.
AA boatful of young monks wave enthusiastically at the tourists as groups of foreigners sail across the Inle Lake. Burmese – young or old, are genuinely curious of the outside world.
Monks cross the rickety U Bein bridge in Amarapura – thhis is also the world’s longest teak bridge.
Note: Special thanks to Myanmar Travel who provided plenty of valuable advice and tips. Myanmar Travel is not in anyway associated with the military government. All opinions expressed above are my own.