Posts tagged “myanmar

Too Briefly, Yangon

Posted on 18 October 2016

The roads were wide and the buildings were tall. Our taxi circled roundabouts with traffic. After the hills of Shan State, Yangon was big and hot, but exciting. As our driver took us from the airport to our hotel, we sped by malls and apartments on the rise. He pointed out Inya Lake as we drove by. “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi lives there. You know her?” Less than two months prior, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy had won a supermajority of seats in Myanmar’s parliament – a rapid change given that she had only been released from fifteen years of non-consecutive house arrest at the end of 2010. Dissidence had been brutally crushed over decades of military rule, but now, our driver…

An Infiltrating Soft Light

Posted on 30 August 2016

We stepped into a small concrete and corrugated metal shelter just off the rutted dirt road. I sat down and bent forward slightly; some digestive issues had presented themselves that morning, a couple of hours prior. Our guides dipped a tin cup into a pot of water for road wayfarers and took some sips. I took a few gulps from my water bottle. Then, we all shouldered our packs and trudged onward. The road veered to and fro, switchbacking up the steep hillside. Periodically we’d cut upward on pedestrian paths, shortcutting the curves. I grabbed the fabric of my elephant pants which weren’t particularly well-fitting on my thighs for the steeper climbs. We dripped sweat. Frequently we’d hear the telltale chugging of a trucktor…

Just Ahead and Right in Front of You

Posted on 20 July 2016

Just walk down the road. Walk that way. And then turn right. The stairs are there. We had ascended through the hills to Pindaya in the early afternoon. In short time after checking into our hotel, we’d arranged a trek to leave the following morning. Eagerness was rustling beneath the surface of my skin as we set out to explore for the day. The stairs we were directed to were longer and steeper than we thought. Straight up the wall of hills as Myanmar rises in the north. Sweat soon got the better of us. The cave, however, swallowed us with a welcome coolness. We milled around with others through the winding passages, some wide, some very narrow, making our way between, underneath thousands…

Things That Are Shared

Posted on 30 June 2016

The early morning chill that had settled under our skin had dissipated, hastened away by two cups of delicious chai at a Nepalese restaurant during our early lunch. We now walked the glowing tan streets of Nyaungshwe, just peering around, wandering. By the canal I heard Russian, two men taking photos. In accented Russian I inquired: do you want me to take a photo of both of you? Fluently they responded: where are you from? They became enthusiastic when they learned I was from the United States and knew Russian through my studies. They were Oleh and Dima, from Ukraine. Oleh was working in Myanmar, but taking a little vacation. Dima was with him. Their excitement bounded over: what are you doing tomorrow, here?…

To Be Light

Posted on 30 May 2016

It’s 5am and we’re speeding down the mostly empty road, our electric scooter’s headlight cutting a path through the dark. Intermittently, motor scooters speed by with a polite warning honk. I crouch lower behind Ben, shivering in the wind, while widening my eyes in search of our turnoff. We found the correct location, scouted out on our wanderings a couple of days before. The temple we had planned on entering was locked, so we scaled a stupa across the way. Sitting on a ledge, we fiddled with our cameras and shivered as the black gave way to grey, illuminating the clouds overhead. The sky turned grey-blue, then patches of pink flared. To our left, hot air balloons appeared from behind one of the larger…

Another Lens

Posted on 18 April 2016

I tried to focus on Mandalay Fort, across the moat by which I stood. I couldn’t. I pulled the camera strap off from around my neck and switched to manual focus. Back on. I still couldn’t focus. The lens made uncomfortable clicks and skipped, the image relayed to my eye by little mirrors jumped from one kind of blurry to another. And thus I learned my go-to lens was broken. Luckily I had two others. Both are great in particular situations, but not quite as broadly versatile as my damaged lens. Disappointed, I buried the broken lens in my pack, swapping out its seat on the camera for the prime lens. Now I had one distance at which to gaze at the world through…

Sun and Shadow

Posted on 24 March 2016

Alright, I’ll try to walk you through this dusty, lovely, sandy terrain. Even at this morning hour, the sun is high and sharp. I alternate between squinting and widening my eyes. There is a temple to take in every way you turn. We got up and had the standard Myanmar hostel breakfast: egg (fried or scrambled), toast with butter and jam, fruit (banana or papaya or an orange), tea, and coffee (the instant kind, some with milk and sugar added – Birdy brand was my favorite). Then, the smiley receptionist, his teeth spread so wide I couldn’t help but like him, showed us to our electric motorbike. I gripped Ben tightly from behind and we wobbled our way out onto the road, picking up…

Drifting

Posted on 15 February 2016

The sun had yet to rise when our taxi driver dropped us off at the jetty. We scrambled down the stairs of cutout dirt, and made our way onto the ferry. Being the silly, adventurous, and curious people that we are, we bundled up and sat on the deck as the sun rose. After the ferry glided off, we were somewhat warmed by the coffee and tea that was passed out, accompanied by white toast. I suppose it wouldn’t be Myanmar if temples and Buddhas didn’t pass by our sight. Boats made their way past us too, and as we drifted by each other, we waved quite genuinely. Everything moved by slowly enough to have a good look; from Mandalay to Bagan by ferry takes…

Take it Away, Mandalay

Posted on 7 February 2016

Stepping out of the airport, onto the grey pavement, into the yellow sun, following our shared taxi driver—what else is there like this? Every time I blinked, my eyes were swallowing something new. As we rushed over the highway toward Mandalay, I looked around in every direction. The buildings grew taller and taller, and vehicles became traffic, which became more chaotic. I loved it. At once I could connect sights with familiar places and drink in everything as all new. After dumping our bags in our hotel room, I was raring to explore the city that evening on foot. Darkness fell, but only after we explored the blocks surrounding our hotel – up to the fortress and down along the streets. We ate dinner…