I first went to Myanmar in 2010 when it had just ‘re-opened’ and I feel very fortunate that I got to see it before it became overly commercial. Those that visit now are grateful that it is still not too busy with people but compared to those early days, for me the country has changed a little too much already!
However, it should still be on people’s wish list of places to visit and it really is a country of much more than pagodas and golden temples.
The tourist circuit is known as “The Golden Kite” namely because the route you take on the early morning flights to visit the country’s highlights are in the shape of a ‘kite’. Mandalay, made famous by Rudjard Kipling, sounds way more exotic than it actually is but the area surrounding the city is the ‘fun’ part. Ubein Bridge at sunset is one of the must do’s of Burma. Take a little boat out at sunset and watch the sun set over the world’s longest teak bridge. It used to be monks crossing the bridge with their bicycles but these days you’re more likely to see other tourists crossing the bridge instead. But the sunsets generally in the country are amazing and particularly good in December and January!
The beaches of Ngwe Sung are also just magical – 14 miles of untouched silver sand. Inle Lake is a photographer’s dream. For some reason, the light up near the lake is amazing and it’s difficult to take a bad photograph there. The photo at the top of this blog was taken on the lake of the fishermen at sunset demonstrating how they operate the conical fishing nets with their feet. The above image is one of a set I took at sunset one evening and one of the photos even won The Telegraph Big Picture competition. The truth is that the fishermen went through a whole sequence of manoeuvres for me to photograph while I was eaten alive by mosquitoes!!!
Bagan with its thousands of Stupas is another magical place when you see the hot air balloons go off every morning at sunrise in near perfect conditions. There are still a few pagodas you can climb in bare feet (everything in Burma is visited in bare feet!) to watch the sunset over the many stupas. It won’t be long though before the stupas become inaccessible to tourists and quite rightly. In fact, I’m surprised you can still climb them today as there must be some serious damage going on with the numbers of people trampling all over them. Anyway, for now at least, you can still access a lot of them but this is changing quickly.
Below you will see some photographs I have amassed during my many trips to Burma over the years which will give you some idea of just how photogenic the country is.