The last time, though not forever, as I loved Burma and I am already planning and dreaming of heading back to explore more. Husband is (almost) convinced to come too. I hope that I will be able to spend several weeks there early next year. Fingers crossed.
There were several other places I visited in Burma that haven’t been mentioned. Small experiences which will stay in my mind. I didn’t really talk about the delicious food (which I tried to enjoy whenever I got the chance), incredible strawberry cocktails (with the sweetest strawberries I’ve had since childhood) and lots of other things which come to mind when I am looking through my Lightroom library.
Never have I met so many friendly and happy people. My 10 words of Burmese opened many doors and returned so many smiles that I am still amazed when I think about it. I was lucky to spend a few days in Hpa-An which I will always remember as the town of smiles, novice monks obsessed with football and cats everywhere.
Mandalay, I didn’t fall in love with (the traffic and air pollution put me off) and I was happy to leave. I preferred the more relaxed atmosphere of small towns. The only reason I would consider heading back to Mandalay would be to take the train from there to Hsipaw and instead of staying there, I’d stay in Amarapura (near U Bein Bridge). I quickly found myself in Yangon and only after a few days it felt very familiar and surprisingly small. I was captured by Yangon’s old (but very run down) buildings, busy streets and great tea shops.
Myanmar is truly a great country to see. If you ever thought of going there, go now, people are happy to see outsiders exploring their country and are always happy to interact. Go before their wonderful attitude changes. I will be going again as soon as I can. This is how I imagine traveling in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia was 20-30 years ago. Maybe sometimes it is not the most convenient and easy but the people, their smiles and the scenery makes it worth going now. It is a very safe country and I met only honest and very generous people. I lost count of how many times I was offered bottled water to cool down (and could never persuade them to take money from me) and to be invited to rest in people’s homes just to spend their time with me, I will never forget trying food from people’s plates and bowls before ordering my own (they were very insistent) and the countless cups of Lapse yea I had with strangers. It was also the easiest place for me to learn how to take portraits of people. They were very calm and patient with me and proud to be photographed. Of course that part goes to Maciej Dakowicz, it was probably thanks to his attitude and love of Burma that I feel the same about it now too. I have already started pestering Maciej about the next photography workshop in Burma. I really enjoyed learning from him and would love to get a chance to travel with him there again. And next time I will be wearing traditional longyi.
Lady at the market. She shared her tea with me. If not in the tea shops drinking their Lapae yea men play board games on the streets Despite a growing mobile phone network (still very expensive in Burma) public phones are still very popular. Enterprising shop owners rent their land lines. Up Mandalay Hill, local tourists having a photo session. There were several ‘scenes’ they could chose from. Family at the Shwedagon Pagoda. I am afraid a photo of me with the enitre family is hanging somewhere on a wall in their house. They asked the photographer to take lots of photos of me and the old lady (head of the family). So many smiles. Taking photos of each other. I kept falling in love with kids several times a day. They were beyond lovely. TV repair man. He had many old TV sets in his workshop. People still use them. I found Burma to be very relaxing. How tiny are the ladies?! (better than asking the other question: How big am I?!) 93 year old lady. She and her two daughters had 6 big cats and several kittens. They invited Maciej and me to their living room, gave us sweet drinks and cookies and talked about their lives. I took the photo exactly when this men was giving me a small jade stone as a present.
Many, many cats in one household. Years ago (back in Poland) I used to collect old irons. Just like this one. This man just finished (perfectly) ironing a white shirt. He made me lift the iron it was not only hot (from the hot coals inside) but also very heavy. Most people use these irons every day. Had great time with those boys. Obsessed with football, they showed me their poster collection. They know more about Polish football player Robert Lewandowski than I do. Coconut sellers. Lovely couple.Snooker club. Men were pretty amused at four of us taking photos of them playing.