World Travel Tales

Yangon River, Yangon, Burma

Sailing on the Yangon River

The Yangon river and it's tributaries form the outside boundary of much of the former capital city of Yangon.

The locals here use the river to transport themselves and goods to villages both up and downstream of the city. Fuel is expensive so sails are often rigged on their small wooden boats to maximize on fuel economy.

Location: Yangon River, Yangon, Burma

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 200, 1/200 sec at f/8.

Inwa, near Mandalay, Burma

The Inwa Watchtower Stairs

On a day trip from Mandalay we made our way down the Ayeyarwady river to Inwa (or Inn Wa), where we saw this watchtower overlooking the rice fields of the area.

The tower is all that remains of a former king's palace, which was largely damaged in a massive earthquake in 1838. The tower was leaning and the stairs in disrepair, but we climbed it anyways.

Location: Inwa, near Mandalay, Burma

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 1600, 1/250 sec at f/8.

Village above Inle Lake, Burma

Boys Playing

We stumbled across these boys playing while hiking in the hills above Inle Lake. They were running and laughing while pushing bamboo rings with sticks. It was common to see children entertaining themselves with simple home-made toys.

Location: Village above Inle Lake, Burma

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 800, 1/200 sec at f/8.

Kandawgyi Lake, Yangon, Burma

Shwedagon Pagoda from Kandawgyi Lake

Kandawgyi Lake is surrounded by a large park filled with big trees and winding little trails, and the lake itself hosts the Karaweik, a replica of a royal Burmese barge.

We were out for dinner at a nice spot near the lake where locals seem to go for a romantic date or to spend time with their families. Across the lake from where we were sitting, we could see the massive Shwedagon Pagoda glowing bright gold against the early evening sky.

Location: Kandawgyi Lake, Yangon, Burma

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 1600, 1/160 sec at f/5.6.

Village outside of Yangon, Burma

Walking Home After School

We were eating a late lunch at the house of a friend of our local guide. There were many children out in the street making their way home from school on foot or by bicycle.

I shot this photo while peering out the window of our guest's home after filling up on an authentic Burmese meal.

Location: Village outside of Yangon, Burma

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 2000, 1/60 sec at f/6.3.

Village outside of Yangon, Burma

Waiting in the Rain

We made friends with a Burmese woman who taught English to some young students. She approached us in the street and asked if we would mind talking with her students so they could get some practice with native/fluent English speakers.

Over the next few days we spent a lot of time with her as she was more than willing to show us around the small villages surrounding the city, many of which have gone years without seeing another foreign tourist.

We were exploring and hanging out at an old ruin while waiting for the rain to clear. Our new friend, Kitty, had brought a friend of hers for the day to converse in English and to escape her daily routine. They were busy chatting under an umbrella while we were busy taking photos. I captured this great image of them peacefully passing time in each others company.

Location: Village outside of Yangon, Burma

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 2500, 1/30 sec a f/5.6.

Bagan, Burma

Cigar Break in the Shade

This farmer was taking a well deserved break in the shade after ploughing his fields with oxen in the hot summer sun.

Location: Bagan, Burma

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.

Near Inle Lake, Burma

Tired

A young Burmese boy sitting down for a break in a dirty old tire.

Location: Near Inle Lake, Burma

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.

Phowintaung Caves, Monywa District, Sagaing Region, Northern Burma (Myanmar)

Carved Buddha Caves of Phowintaung

This is a complex of carved caves that hold thousands of Buddha statues. The Buddhas are all carved in one piece and were carved simultaneously while the caves were being excavated between the 14th and 18th centuries.

This area also holds a more modern version of Buddhist pagodas and temples, but it's more frequented by the Burmese natives who value flashing LED lighting and painted gold statues over carved ancient relics.

We hired a young Burmese woman who was born in the area as a guide so we'd get the most out of our visit. She was studying law in Yangon and had returned to her home in Monywa to earn some money for school, and she was worth every penny.

Location: Phowintaung Caves, Monywa District, Sagaing Region, Northern Burma (Myanmar)

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 1000, 1/60 sec at f/8.

Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens, Pyin Oo Lwin, Bruma (Myanmar)

Viewing Tower at Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens

Visitors who make the climb up this viewing tower are rewarded with a birds eye view of pristine lakes and immaculately manicured Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens.

Word has it that you could get Burmese sweet tea and a snack while you were up there, but the seating area was closed when we got there.

Location: Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens, Pyin Oo Lwin, Bruma (Myanmar)

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 500, 1/1600 sec at f/8.

Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

Enjoying the View

I'm relaxing (ie. posing for a photo) in the warm Burmese sunshine and enjoying the view of the ancient temples of Bagan.

Location: Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 250, 1/40 sec at f/10.

Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

Burmese Fields

This Burmese farmer was ploughing his fields in the blazing heat of the day. He stopped to take a break while we were there taking photos, and he invited us to come and sit in the shade with him and his wife. They offered us some tea and snacks and were all smiles even though we shared fewer than 10 words in a common language.

He had a real laugh when I showed him the video I shot on my phone of him working the field with his oxen. By his reaction, I'm guessing he hasn't seen himself on video very often.

Location: Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 640, 1/3200 sec at f/5.0.

Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

Sunset in Bagan

Our day began with an early morning bike ride out to the Bagan Archaeological Area was with the intent of finding a remote pagoda to climb to the top of to watch the sun rise over the plains.

We were biking in the dark with just small travel-sized headlamps to light our way, and we were lucky enough to avoid any flat tires even though the trail was covered with razor sharp thorns. There would be plenty of time for flat tires later that day.

Catching a beautiful sunrise is hit and miss in Bagan, and that morning we were greeted with an overcast sky and not much of a sunrise.

So we spent the day touring around on our bikes, fixing flat tires, and walking around the temples barefoot to appease the buddhists who require footwear to be left outside the temples.

We found a great spot to watch the sunset and hope for the best. For our efforts, we were rewarded with this absolutely unforgettable sunset.

Location: Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 500, 1/60 sec at f/8.0.

Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

Temples of Bagan

The Bagan Archaeological Zone, in the Mandalay region of Burma, is home to thousands of these ancient buddhist temples and pagodas. Many of them were constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries, and are still standing today.

Tourists who wake up early and make a long bike journey to get atop of one of the temples before the sun rises are often treated to an unforgettable landscape. The plains stretch as far as you can see and are littered with temples and pagodas basking in the early morning sunshine.

Location: Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 500, 1/125 sec at f/8.0.

Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

The Streets of Yangon

The dirty streets of Yangon, Burma, are filled with locals going about their day. This woman is making fresh, hot food on a makeshift wood burning stove to sell to passersby.

You'll also notice this woman has a gold coloured paste on her cheeks. We asked about this and discovered that it's a cultural thing and helps prevent the sun from darkening their skin.

Location: Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

Camera: Nikon D300 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 800, 1/80 sec at f/5.3.

Near Inle Lake, Burma (Myanmar)

Burmese Villagers

My travel partner, Manja, took this photo while a group of villagers gathered around me to see themselves in a photo I had just taken of them.

Burma (Myanmar) is an incredibly friendly country and it was always a pleasure to be approached by people with big smiles on their faces just looking for some interaction with the infrequent tourists.

We had hired a local guide for a three day trek in the rugged hills around Inle Lake. Even though the terrain was quite rugged and steep, our guide wore cheap flip-flops on his feet for the entire walk while laughing and joking and smiling the entire time. This village is located somewhere in the hills above Inle Lake, Burma.

Location: Near Inle Lake, Burma (Myanmar)

Camera: Nikon D50 with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
Settings: ISO 800, 1/125 sec at f/5.6.