fishermen

MYANMAR PART 4: MANDALAY

MYANMAR PART 4: MANDALAY

Mandalay.

The name itself evokes images of exotic places, far away lands.  It's one of those magical names like Sahara, Amazon and Himalaya, which when I was growing up seemed to belong to places so distant and foreign and alien that they couldn't really exist.

Of course, as I got older, and as my fascination with travel got stronger and deeper, I realized that these places are all real and that with a little will power and dedication it was perfectly possible to actually go there and see them.  Even so, Mandalay is a place name that everyone knows (thanks mostly to Kipling's poem, Road To Mandalay but I knew very little about.  As I researched it for the trip, I began to realize more and more that it would be a fascinating place to spend some time, the spiritual heart of Burma, more monks and nuns as a ratio of the population than anywhere else in the country, three former capital cities in Mandalay, Amarapura and Inwe (two suburbs/towns to the south) and a city with a huge amount of traditional craft and trade.

MYANMAR PART 3: LAKE INLE

MYANMAR PART 3: LAKE INLE

After leaving Yangon, we flew to Lake Inle in the highlands of Shan State.  It was one of those places that when I was researching Burma, couldn't believe really existed.  A huge lake populated with floating villages, entire communities living on the lake, it looked amazing.  Of course, there are already plenty of photographs of the lake, and in particular, the fishermen who make their living there with their distinctive style of paddling with one leg, but I hadn't really seen much photography that gave me a clear impression of the different communities that lived there.

We arrived on a small plane from Yangon in late afternoon.  Internal flights in Burma really are an experience, your luggage is wheeled onto the the plane in a small cart, and then on arrival at your destination, it's wheeled into the arrivals hall and pretty much dumped on the floor.  Getting your luggage can be a bit of a free-for-all, and this was our first experience of it. By the time we left Burma, we'd made 4 more internal flights and were pretty much used to it.