Myanmar 2017

At the end of June, I flew to Yangon, Myanmar to join Elizabeth, who had already been there for a few weeks, working with her artist friends/cohorts. She set aside the final week as vacation, which she spent with me at a few different places she had arranged for us.

GOPR5181 GOPR5181.JPG
We spent the first couple of nights together in Yangon at the Paradise Hotel.

GOPR5184 GOPR5184.JPG
This is the view of the city. We never saw the large blocky buildings visible in the background.

GOPR5188 GOPR5188.JPG
The included breakfast offered a nice selection of local favorites.

IMG_9903 IMG_9903_o91D.JPG
As well as nationalized hot beverages.

DSC_6241 DSC_6241.JPG
Buildings were all mixed use, some more mixed than others. This one was probably a shrine of some kind, but we didn’t go in.

DSC_6244 DSC_6244.JPG
There was also a tendency of plants to take over when you looked away for too long...

DSC_6269 DSC_6269.JPG
Not sure Samsung’s marketing department approved this installation...

DSC_6261 DSC_6261.JPG
Infrastructure, particularly electrical supply, was atrocious (being kind).

DSC_6253 DSC_6253.JPG
It looked like whoever wanted electricity only had to wire it up themselves.

DSC_6254 DSC_6254.JPG
That or they enlisted monkeys to climb the power poles for them.

DSC_6250 DSC_6250.JPG
Skynet?
Here is the headquarters of the famous service provider that destroyed human civilization in "Terminator 2: Judgement Day." Low–budget version.

DSC_6378 DSC_6378.JPG
Need a ride?

DSC_6379 DSC_6379.JPG
Look for the yellow cab!

DSC_6272 DSC_6272.JPG
Modes of transportation shown on the right are being replaced with modes seen to the left, with the expected consequences of smog, noise, congestion, and fatalities.

DSC_6256 DSC_6256.JPG
The Sidewalks
The #1 cause for medivac in Yangon is the sidewalks.

DSC_6265 DSC_6265.JPG
They are sewage–filled traps for unwary pedestrians.

DSC_6263 DSC_6263.JPG
And the main reason most people walk in the street, despite the incumbant risk of being run over.

DSC_6281 DSC_6281.JPG
Yet, a few miles from our hotel, there is the spectacular Shwedagon, a palacial Buddhist pagoda at the edge of town.

GOPR5196 GOPR5196.JPG
This is one of the sky walkways to the central plaza.

IMG_9807 IMG_9807_o11D.JPG
The main "stupa," visible in the center, is covered with gold plates and the top is encrusted with 4531 diamonds, the largest of which is 72 carats (half an ounce). I guess you need a telescope to appreciate it.

DSC_6286 DSC_6286.JPG
There are literally dozens of shrines surrounding the main stupa, each one attracting many visitors each day.

IMG_9810 IMG_9810_o45F.JPG
The shrine of the Sleeping Buddha seems to attract quite a few nappers, and it wasn’t uncommon to see people taking refuge in shrines throughout Myanmar.

DSC_6302 DSC_6302.JPG
Buddhist artists going for baroque.

DSC_6303 DSC_6303.JPG
A better view of the central stupa.

DSC_6305 DSC_6305.JPG
One of the many side stupas, each one indicating some sort of artifact in the temple below (as I understand).

DSC_6308 DSC_6308.JPG
Sooo shiny!

DSC_6309 DSC_6309.JPG
The monsoons seem to keep the place clean.

DSC_6318 DSC_6318.JPG
At times, we were walking in ankle–deep water. One good reason to take off your shoes, I guess.

DSC_6322 DSC_6322.JPG
I bet the monks wish their robes were less absorbent.

IMG_9855 IMG_9855_o386.JPG
Waiting out the downpour at one of the shrines.

DSC_6310 DSC_6310.JPG
The shrine across the way seemed overcrowded with Buddhas, to the point where visitors had trouble to find space to pray or meditate.

DSC_6321a DSC_6321a.jpg
That’s not a fountain in the background — that’s rainwater seeking its own level down the stairs.

Check out video of the monsoon here.

DSC_6314 DSC_6314.JPG
The Buddha holding out his hand as if to say, "More gold, please."

IMG_9858 IMG_9858_o296.JPG
Stylized faces were everywhere...

IMG_9887 IMG_9887_oA52.JPG

IMG_9885 IMG_9885_o981.JPG
Some shrines were agumented with more modern improvements, like — flashing LEDs!

GOPR5215 GOPR5215.JPG
This Buddha was about three stories tall. I guess he specialized in answering the big questions.

IMG_9888 IMG_9888_oDC7.JPG

GOPR5232 GOPR5232.JPG

GOPR5237 GOPR5237.JPG
At this point, the rain was more of a gentle shower.

GOPR5241 GOPR5241.JPG
One of dozens of small shrines populating the pagoda

DSC_6332 DSC_6332.JPG
A stylized lion, stylin’

GOPR5195 GOPR5195.JPG
The main stairs to the pagoda were covered by many roofs.

DSC_6329 DSC_6329.JPG
There were also a set of outside stairs adjacent to the covered ones.

DSC_6328 DSC_6328.JPG
These young monks were having a group photo. I was on the wrong of things, as usual.

DSC_6324 DSC_6324.JPG
Inside the main stairway

DSC_6323 DSC_6323.JPG
Many merchants set up shop along the way, and it seems to be common practice to have markets leading into (or out of) places of worship in Myanmar.

DSC_6274 DSC_6274.JPG
After visiting the Shwedagon, we went to the Pansodan Gallery, where Elizabeth had been working the past few weeks with her artist friends.

DSC_6392 DSC_6392.JPG
Here’s Elizabeth with Pamela and Mie on the right, and one of the local artists in the back.

GOPR5264 GOPR5264.JPG
One of the many street markets that spontaneously appear every evening in Yangon.

DSC_6386 DSC_6386.JPG
And one of the stray dogs visible on every street everywhere at anytime of the day or night. Yes, rabies is an increasing problem.

DSC_6405 DSC_6405.JPG
We took a lovely (if toasty) walk along the wooden bridges that surround a kind of water park near the Yangon zoo.

Myanmar5 Myanmar5.jpg
We had a great view of this floating temple or palace (we’re not sure what it was) the other side of a small lake.

Myanmar8 Myanmar8.jpg
Just noticed the disco balls hanging from each bill.

DSC_6470 DSC_6470.JPG
Fellow tourist traded shots with us.

IMG_9916 IMG_9916_oC67.JPG
This was one of the more bizarre shrines we came across.

IMG_9908 IMG_9908_o253.JPG
Mao Tse Dum & Mao Tse Dee?

IMG_9912 IMG_9912_o2C7.JPG
Shelter over cool tile floor? Bed!

Myanmar10 Myanmar10.jpg
The floating shrine adjacent to the holy menagerie was listing a bit to one side...

DSC_6475 DSC_6475.JPG
While it appeared at first a bit treacherous, there were no gaping holes to indicate recent drowings, so we walked on with confidence.

DSC_6479a DSC_6479a.jpg
Not as difficult as walking on a lilly pad, anyway.

IMG_9927 IMG_9927_oBCC.JPG
They were selling tethered balloon rides — presumably, a way to pop up for a good view of the Shwedagon, zoo, and park, but we didn’t take one.

Myanmar11 Myanmar11.jpg
This is what we could see from the ground.

DSC_6502 DSC_6502.JPG
Leaving the park, we took the pedestrian bridge over the main roadway to get to the zoo.

DSC_6509 DSC_6509.JPG
There were a fair number of folks there. It was a Saturday, I guess, so shouldn’t come as a surprise.

DSC_6521 DSC_6521.JPG
It’s sloped. It’s smooth. Must be a slide.

DSC_6519 DSC_6519.JPG
River otter with attitude

DSC_6529 DSC_6529.JPG
Relaxed kitty

DSC_6546 DSC_6546.JPG
Elephants looking for handouts (nose–outs?)

IMG_9946 IMG_9946_o33D.JPG
I love elephants.

DSC_6555 DSC_6555.JPG
This isn’t a peacock, even though it looks like one.

DSC_6564 DSC_6564.JPG
The zoo provided selected treats for some of the animals, but people seemed to feed the deer whatever they had on hand.

IMG_9956 IMG_9956_oB0B.JPG
Not even sure what that is...

MyanmarZoo1 MyanmarZoo1.jpg
And here’s the reason the deer were so hungry. Top Buck was sitting in the feeder. A perfect analog of human societies everywhere.

DSC_6595 DSC_6595.JPG
Cassowary
Very colorful throwbacks to the age of the dinosaurs

DSC_6608 DSC_6608.JPG
Cassowary
Wouldn’t mess with this guy...

See some video here.

DSC_6623 DSC_6623.JPG
An adorable fawn

IMG_9971 IMG_9971_o4FE.JPG
We saw a few structures made from used water bottles, which seem to be a serious trash problem in Myanmar (and probably everwhere).

DSC_6643 DSC_6643.JPG
The aviary

DSC_6656 DSC_6656.JPG
Healthy bull

DSC_6659 DSC_6659.JPG
Some of these pythons were probably native to the area.

DSC_6665 DSC_6665.JPG
The snout of a tapir

IMG_9982 IMG_9982_o6EA.JPG
Some rather fanciful flowers

DSC_6714 DSC_6714.JPG
Being a tropical area, the botany in Myanmar is quite diverse.

DSC_6686 DSC_6686.JPG
The following morning, we hopped a plane for Bagan, where we stayed at the "Amazing Bagan Resort."

DSC_6690 DSC_6690.JPG
This is the Amazing Pool.

DSC_6707 DSC_6707.JPG
Here we are walking along the Amazing Road into Old Bagan.

DSC_6702 DSC_6702.JPG
We saw these Amazing Locals gleaning leftovers at the borders of what might have been a peanut field.

DSC_6719 DSC_6719.JPG
Here we are posing ourselves before this Amazing Sign.

DSC_6724 DSC_6724.JPG
One of many restaurants in old Bagan offering an Amazing selection of cuisines.

DSC_6727 DSC_6727.JPG
We had a drink to wait out a brief shower there before heading off on a pair of electric scooters they had for rent at $3 each for half a day.

DSC_6733 DSC_6733.JPG
Riding was much easier & more comfortable than walking, and we were able to make it to a few different pagodas before we got hungry, tired and overheated.

DSC_6841 DSC_6841.JPG
One of the aforementioned markets aligning the entryway to the shrine

BaganTemple4 BaganTemple4.jpg
Many pagodas in Bagan have square symmetry, where each elevation of the structure included an entry point and a large Buddha. The main entry (this one) typically had a donation box in addition.

DSC_6818 DSC_6818.JPG
You could see where people had rubbed the Buddha for good luck, rubbing off the gold leaf at the same time. (Having gold on your hands must be good luck.) Buddhas were frequently enclosed by a cage or low fence for that reason.

BaganTemple7 BaganTemple7.jpg
I flipped the image around to make this easier to read from inside. I’m wondering what was donated, exactly — the gate, or the sign?

DSC_6817 DSC_6817.JPG
The doorways made us feel tall...

IMG_0003 IMG_0003_o50E.JPG
We both wondered what the place looked like in its prime.

DSC_6822 DSC_6822.JPG
One of the women at the temple suggested we climb up the stairs of a neighboring building to have a better look around.

DSC_6823 DSC_6823.JPG
The passageway was difficult to find and we had to duck quite a bit to get through it...

IMG_0007 IMG_0007_oFA5.JPG
...but the view was worth it.

DSC_6832a DSC_6832a.jpg
This is a telephoto shot of a neighboring pagoda.

IMG_0014 IMG_0014_oF52.JPG
We rode just a big further down the road to the Bupaya pagoda, whose stupa is preserved from the second century A.D.

DSC_6846 DSC_6846.JPG
Bupaya Pagoda

DSC_6847 DSC_6847.JPG
The adjacent temple was a bit more recent, or at least had some modern additions, like LEDs(!)

IMG_0020 IMG_0020_oD06.JPG

DSC_6856 DSC_6856.JPG
Another nearby pagoda

DSC_6858 DSC_6858.JPG
And yet another. I would say more if I knew more...

IMG_0029 IMG_0029_o9F6.JPG
Big happenings at the Myetaw Pyay Phayt. Much wrath. A litte mercy. More wrath.

BaganTemple9 BaganTemple9.jpg
People were working and cleaning up the grounds while we were there.

DSC_6889 DSC_6889.JPG
Eliz decided to climb up this time, not me.

IMG_0062 IMG_0062_o4E7.JPG
Burmese characters are nice and round. It’s a pretty (and pretty large) alphabet.

IMG_0065 IMG_0065_oF81.JPG
The attire restrictions applied to most Buddhist shrines.

DSC_7012 DSC_7012.JPG
Take off those feet!
I had trouble with this one, however.

DSC_6899 DSC_6899.JPG
Eliz decided to keep hers on as well.

IMG_0070 IMG_0070_o1F4.JPG
We saw people sound the bells (softly), and that much they seemed to permit. Actually, I never saw anyone being scolded for anything.

DSC_6897 DSC_6897.JPG

DSC_6906 DSC_6906.JPG
A lot of the pagodas were being worked on, including this one.

DSC_7016 DSC_7016.JPG
At any given site, there are often a variety of styles present, as shown here.

BaganTemple14 BaganTemple14.jpg
It was difficult to tell gold leaf from gold paint, but we got the sense that there was a lot of both.

DSC_6993a DSC_6993a.jpg
The rickety bamboo scaffolds were apparently used for climbing during repairs, which seems like it wouldn’t pass OSHA.

BaganTemple10 BaganTemple10.jpg

IMG_0073 IMG_0073_o4D6.JPG

IMG_0089 IMG_0089_o5D9.JPG
Scary monster cherubs

DSC_7014 DSC_7014.JPG
Chill Buddha

BaganTemple22 BaganTemple22.jpg
The adjoining market

DSC_7006 DSC_7006.JPG
A road seemed to pass through the corridor.

DSC_7026 DSC_7026.JPG
We don’t have the concept of a motorcycle–pickup truck in the U.S.

BaganCarriages1 BaganCarriages1.jpg
I guess the Amazing Bagan has been there a while, as it has its own fleet of carriages. Surprised no one has thought to pull these with a motorcycle.

AmazingBagan1 AmazingBagan1.jpg
The breakfast buffet at the Amazing was amazing.

IMG_0120 IMG_0120_o315.JPG
The surroundings weren’t too bad, either.

DSC_7077a DSC_7077a.jpg
Not sure how old these ruins were, if they were in fact genuine...

IMG_0175 IMG_0175_o8AC.JPG
We rented just one scooter the second day, which worked fine for the two of us.

IMG_0143 IMG_0143_oAFE.JPG
We were lucky to have nice weather, though it was a bit warm in the sunshine.

IMG_0132 IMG_0132_oD5D.JPG
An image showing the many layers

BaganTemple24 BaganTemple24.jpg
The stupa of this pagoda was being worked on as well.

DSC_7105 DSC_7105.JPG
Some tourists(?) seemed to have found an escort to the top of the tower.

DSC_7129 DSC_7129.JPG
This temple featured four (I think) standing Buddhas.

IMG_0152 IMG_0152_oAC9.JPG
It was easy to get lost wandering around the pagoda, as many of the blind corridors led to similar–looking shrines and entries.

DSC_7155 DSC_7155.JPG
Standing Buddha #3. So, there were at *least* three.

BaganTemple28 BaganTemple28.jpg
Each of these little alcoves also contained a Buddha.

GOPR5293 GOPR5293.JPG
Some of which can be seen here.

GOPR5290 GOPR5290.JPG
Shiva? Sheena? Beyonce?

DSC_7110 DSC_7110.JPG

GOPR5297 GOPR5297.JPG
And if there weren’t enough Buddha statues for you, you could always count the Buddha drawings...

IMG_0159 IMG_0159_oD52.JPG
These looked almost Egyptian.

DSC_7171 DSC_7171.JPG
Many of the Asian tourists wanted their picture taken with us, for whatever reason.

DSC_7176 DSC_7176.JPG
Eliz said this woman was hugging her so tightly that she thought she might break a rib.

DSC_7182 DSC_7182.JPG
Good that we took some photos of the plaques and entry gates, because I lost track of all the temples we visited in Bagan.

DSC_7181 DSC_7181.JPG

BaganTemple32 BaganTemple32.jpg

DSC_7205 DSC_7205.JPG

IMG_0181 IMG_0181_oC9E.JPG
This pagoda featured a lot of marionette makers, and tourists liked to pose with them.

IMG_0224 IMG_0224_o107.JPG

BaganTemple37 BaganTemple37.jpg
Typical arrangement behind one of the large Buddha statues.

DSC_7238 DSC_7238.JPG
I liked the way the shadow of the shrine combined with the large Buddha mural in an echo of its form.

BaganTemple36 BaganTemple36.jpg

DSC_7269 DSC_7269.JPG
Bats!
The roof of this particular alcove was covered in bats, which had shall we say a distinctive smell.

DSC_7369a DSC_7369a.jpg
Batty Bat
This little guy appeared to be covered with cobwebs.

DSC_7332 DSC_7332.JPG
The Buddha’s are all in such different styles.

DSC_7325 DSC_7325.JPG
These are some friends who allowed me to take their photo. They later insisted on getting photos of them with me, which was nice.

DSC_7360 DSC_7360.JPG

IMG_0227 IMG_0227_o298.JPG
I’ll tell you what this says in a minute...

IMG_0226 IMG_0226_o1CE.JPG
...there you go!

IMG_0230 IMG_0230_oC00.JPG

BaganTemple47 BaganTemple47.jpg
I tried the stairs, but the way up was gated off.

DSC_7371 DSC_7371.JPG
Big sleepy Buddha

DSC_7433 DSC_7433.JPG
You can’t really tell from this photo, but the corridor was very dimly lit.

DSC_7438 DSC_7438.JPG

DSC_7441 DSC_7441.JPG

DSC_7444 DSC_7444.JPG
Our driver then took us to a little village, which Eliz had picked out as an interesting tour.

DSC_7451 DSC_7451.JPG
Our young guide showed us some of the common jobs/activities there.

Minnanthu3 Minnanthu3.jpg
This was a shelter where they kept the loom and some chairs for hanging out and miscellaneous other stuff.

IMG_0251 IMG_0251_oD6E.JPG
The fabrics they made here started from cotton they harvested themselves.

Minnanthu6 Minnanthu6.jpg
I think this leanto must have served as storage for the adjoining living space. Everything was sort of indoor/outdoor.

DSC_7480 DSC_7480.JPG
Our guide studied English in school, and considered herself "done" with education at 16.

IMG_0254 IMG_0254_o86A.JPG
This was an ancient mill they still used for grinding peanuts.

Minnanthu4 Minnanthu4.jpg
Here was their kitchen. Their village only recently acquired electricity and running water.

IMG_0258 IMG_0258_oA0D.JPG
Here we’re getting a demonstration on how to grind the bark of a common tree with water to make "thanaka," a paste worn by Burmese women as a cosmetic for sun protection.

DSC_7507 DSC_7507.JPG
The guide’s little brother was wearing thanaka, also.

DSC_7517 DSC_7517.JPG
Here he is with his 95 year–old great grandmother, who still spins thread for their hand–loomed fabrics.

DSC_7518 DSC_7518.JPG

DSC_7511 DSC_7511.JPG
Eliz posing with the proprieter in her new "longie."

Minnanthu7 Minnanthu7.jpg
One of the neighboring household shelters

DSC_7565 DSC_7565.JPG
After our village visit, we went to see a few more temples, including a couple we were able to climb up.

DSC_7566 DSC_7566.JPG
At any given time, many of the locals must be employed fixing up the temples, but we didn’t see many being visibly worked on.

DSC_7569 DSC_7569.JPG
These stairs look steep because they are.

DSC_7601 DSC_7601.JPG
Elizabeth demonstrates the proper climbing technique.

DSC_7575 DSC_7575.JPG
Steep, like I said

IMG_0277 IMG_0277_o3D8.JPG
From a higher vantage, it became apparent just how many temples dotted the landscape.

IMG_0270 IMG_0270_oBF8.JPG
Lots

DSC_7611 DSC_7611.JPG
Lots and lots

DSC_7585 DSC_7585.JPG
Many of the ones we didn’t have a chance to visit looked quite spectacular from a distance.

DSC_7582 DSC_7582.JPG
We couldn’t even count them all...

DSC_7568 DSC_7568.JPG
We also had a look from the neighboring pagoda.

DSC_7603 DSC_7603.JPG
Eliz wearing thanaka

IMG_0280 IMG_0280_o507.JPG
I applied my own thanaka, attempting to draw whiskers, but ending up like I had eaten a sloppy meal.

DSC_7612 DSC_7612.JPG
There was a long line of tourists scooting by as we looked on.

DSC_7616 DSC_7616.JPG
Eliz trying to capture the moon with her iPhone. Not the right camera for the job, says I.

IMG_0286 IMG_0286_oC90.JPG
Climbing down

IMG_0279 IMG_0279_o4EA.JPG
Our driver, Ko Htet

DSC_7618 DSC_7618.JPG
The temple we went to for our final sunset viewing was immensely popular with the tourists.

DSC_7621 DSC_7621.JPG
It was challenging even staking out a spot.

DSC_7664 DSC_7664.JPG

DSC_7668 DSC_7668.JPG
One of our fellow tourists took our photo.

BaganSunset1 BaganSunset1.jpg

BaganSunset6 BaganSunset6.jpg

DSC_7716a DSC_7716a.jpg
Afterwards, we went to a place in New Bagan recommended by Pamela, the Green Elephant.

DSC_7719 DSC_7719.JPG
Dinner there was good, if a bit on the pricey side for Myanmar. (Translation: dinner cost nearly what lunch would back in Berkeley.)

DSC_7721 DSC_7721.JPG
Inlay Lake Airport
The following morning, we flew from Bagan to Inlay Lake (often written "Inle Lake," though I prefer the spelling that’s a better match to the pronunciation).

DSC_7739 DSC_7739.JPG
There, we had lunch at a nice little Indian place owned by the refugee chef at the left in this photo.

DSC_7742 DSC_7742.JPG
We liked the decor, which included photos of many of their regular customers.

DSC_7743 DSC_7743.JPG
The sidewalks in Inlay Lake were no better really than those in Yangon.

DSC_7745 DSC_7745.JPG
I think many of the vehicles, including boats, tractors, and trucks, used exactly the same single–cylinder diesel engine.

DSC_7748 DSC_7748.JPG
Their smoke and noise filled the air everywhere we went.

DSC_7753 DSC_7753.JPG
The scooters of course had regular gas engines, which are more compact and not as noisy. This one was more modern, befitting the needs of a young, jet–setting toddler and his family.

DSC_7731 DSC_7731.JPG
Inlay Lake is largely a boating community, with many houses right on the water and people going to and fro via these long water taxis.

DSC_7749 DSC_7749.JPG
The billboarded place in the middle is where we caught a water taxi to our resort some miles south.

DSC_7754 DSC_7754.JPG
These boys were seeing what they could catch off the taxi pier.

IMG_0310 IMG_0310_o662.JPG
Our bags were put under a tarp so they wouldn’t get muddy from other passing boats.

IMG_0315 IMG_0315_oE48.JPG
On our way!

DSC_7777 DSC_7777.JPG
The ride was quick and smooth for the most part.

DSC_7771 DSC_7771.JPG
This dog must have built his own bridge over the waterway.

DSC_7768 DSC_7768.JPG
Someone bailing out his boat

DSC_7779 DSC_7779.JPG
Someone else washing her clothes, or something...

DSC_7786 DSC_7786.JPG
I’m not sure, but I think this is some kind of dredging barge.

IMG_0320 IMG_0320_oE2D.JPG
A lot of the trash ended up in the river, somehow.

DSC_7806 DSC_7806.JPG
Along with the local cattle. I guess they see it as the easiest passage due to the dense vegetation next to it.

DSC_7823 DSC_7823.JPG
And we saw hundreds, if not thousands of marsh birds.

DSC_7831 DSC_7831.JPG
Lots of ducks, egrets, and cranes

DSC_7785 DSC_7785.JPG
Someone passing with a boat full of produce.

DSC_7841 DSC_7841.JPG
This is why our luggage was covered — boat operators have to constantly lift their propellers out of the water in order to clear them of the mulch they create as they slice through the vegetation.

DSC_7846 DSC_7846.JPG
Once we reached the open water of Inlay Lake, travel got much smoother.

DSC_7853 DSC_7853.JPG
Fisherment set and collected their nets with a characteristic style, hooking one leg on an oar and balancing off the back of the canoe.

DSC_7856 DSC_7856.JPG
This is the water gateway that led to our resort hotel.

DSC_7861 DSC_7861.JPG
It was a rather expansive establishment, which was mostly empty in the off–season.

DSC_7862 DSC_7862.JPG
Every unit had running water, sewer, and electricity, but no A/C.

DSC_7870 DSC_7870.JPG
The associated pipes and things ran under the boardwalks, which is why they all had skirts to conceal what was going on...

DSC_7867 DSC_7867.JPG
We were very pleased with our greeting at the Myanmar Treasure resort.

IMG_0357 IMG_0357_o985.JPG
Eliz made some of the local tea, which was very smokey.

GOPR5319 GOPR5319.JPG
The bungalow was generously appointed, with mosquito netting over the bed.

GOPR5325 GOPR5325.JPG
We didn’t spend much time there, however. Too many interesting things to see & do!

GOPR5321 GOPR5321.JPG
And though we didn’t make use of the nice tub...

GOPR5323 GOPR5323.JPG
...the outdoor shower was much appreciated!

DSC_7872 DSC_7872.JPG
The view from the deck

IMG_0366 IMG_0366_oB49.JPG
We rented a couple of bikes that afternoon.

DSC_7886 DSC_7886.JPG
These were the spa rooms, where guests could treat themselves to massages and that sort of thing.

DSC_7884 DSC_7884.JPG
These folks seemed to be harvesting lotus, which we later learned is used to make an expensive kind of fabric.

InlayLake2 InlayLake2.jpg
The boardwalk from our resort

DSC_7895 DSC_7895.JPG
The boardwalk led from our resort by a small collection of associated buildings on the shore to the main road.

DSC_7900 DSC_7900.JPG
Our bikes were serviceable, but we were grateful for the (mostly) level road running along the lake shore.

InlayLakeMosque1 InlayLakeMosque1.jpg
I don’t know what the razor wire was about — we saw a lot of it in Myanmar, but this was a tin–plated mosque that seemed pretty low–budget.

DSC_7911 DSC_7911.JPG
Some local students heading home after classes

DSC_7898 DSC_7898.JPG
A typically overloaded bus

DSC_7903 DSC_7903.JPG
Note the care taken with small riders.

DSC_7917 DSC_7917.JPG
Each village seemed to have its own pagoda associated with it.

DSC_7918 DSC_7918.JPG
This one was broadcasting prayers all hours of the day as far as we could tell.

IMG_0374 IMG_0374_o726.JPG
It also had a number of disused or little–used sculptures and floats.

IMG_0375 IMG_0375_o53B.JPG
I wonder how many cuts the makers of these things suffer each day on the job.

IMG_0389 IMG_0389_o9DA.JPG
Some of these looked like they belonged on a merry–go–round.

DSC_7930 DSC_7930.JPG

DSC_7929a DSC_7929a.jpg
Lots of stupas

IMG_0377 IMG_0377_o517.JPG

InlayLakeTemple4 InlayLakeTemple4.jpg
Many shrines as well

DSC_7960 DSC_7960.JPG
This was the main entrance.

IMG_0400 IMG_0400_oA2D.JPG
We had wandered in through a back gate.

IMG_0401 IMG_0401_o88C.JPG
It’s actually quite grand as viewed from the roadway.

IMG_0407 IMG_0407_o31B.JPG
Some kind of rainbow bush

IMG_0409 IMG_0409_o2CF.JPG
I think this dog must have belonged to someone.

IMG_2831 IMG_2831.JPG
Though he seemed happy to keep me company.

DSC_7983 DSC_7983.JPG
Heading back out the way we came

IMG_0416 IMG_0416_o6C2.JPG
One of the fields along the road leading back to our resort (visible in the background as a bunch of black points on the waterside)

IMG_0418 IMG_0418_oC24.JPG
Another building made of recycled plastic bottles

InlayLake4 InlayLake4.jpg

IMG_0423 IMG_0423_oC42.JPG
I shot some exciting video using the GoPro, which I’ll try to link here.

DSC_8008 DSC_8008.JPG

DSC_8012 DSC_8012.JPG
On our way to dinner

InlayLakeResort1 InlayLakeResort1.jpg
The place was kind of magical at night.

DSC_8036 DSC_8036.JPG
The resort officially welcoming both of its guests

DSC_8039 DSC_8039.JPG
Dinner menu was just OK, but hard to beat for convenience.

DSC_8042 DSC_8042.JPG
Plus we got to watch geckos on the wall chasing insects of various kinds.

DSC_8044 DSC_8044.JPG
The following morning, we saw these two dancers in traditional costume.

DSC_8691 DSC_8691.JPG
We didn’t actually see them dance, and I wonder if they were just there to pose with guests.

InlayLakeResort3 InlayLakeResort3.jpg
The breakfast buffet was amazing, particularly considering how few guests were there.

DSC_8059 DSC_8059.JPG
We ate well that first morning, which was good because there was no buffet the second day, just a small menu selection.

IMG_0442 IMG_0442_oDB5.JPG
We decided to walk to the "forest" monastery halfway up the mountain.

DSC_8075 DSC_8075.JPG
One of the resort hands coating a new plank in creosote, a nasty tar–like paint that covered and protected all the wood in the place.

IMG_0433 IMG_0433_oEDB.JPG
More lotus famers? Not sure.

DSC_8074 DSC_8074.JPG
These flowers were abundant, and used in decoration around the place.

DSC_8067 DSC_8067.JPG
A lotus blossom

DSC_8072 DSC_8072.JPG
This was a rarer pond flower — we only saw one or two of these.

DSC_8084 DSC_8084.JPG
Another one of the contraptions that puttered along the shared roadway — this one must have been constructed from a converted tractor, judging by the prominent hydrolic pump.

DSC_8080 DSC_8080.JPG
Well, it’s a ride!

DSC_8085 DSC_8085.JPG
We saw a lot of oxcarts parked along the road.

IMG_0453 IMG_0453_o01B.JPG
Old construction with modern improvements (or improvisations)

IMG_0454 IMG_0454_o3D1.JPG
A small village near the turn–off for the monastery. The smoke in the distance is likely a trash fire. They had them everywhere.

IMG_0452 IMG_0452_oAC4.JPG
They also had water for passers–by. I think the different urns corresponded to different religious sects.

DSC_8091 DSC_8091.JPG
We passed by the same pagoda from the day before, which marked the road to the monastery.

IMG_0456 IMG_0456_oC57.JPG
There was a large structure behind the main pagoda that must have been a school or some such.

DSC_8089 DSC_8089.JPG
If only I could read Burmese...

InlayLakeHouse1 InlayLakeHouse1.jpg
Typical home

DSC_8112a DSC_8112a.jpg
Local bird

DSC_8097 DSC_8097.JPG
Local flower

DSC_8117 DSC_8117.JPG

DSC_8110 DSC_8110.JPG
A Powerful Deity
The stupa we were headed twoards

DSC_8113 DSC_8113.JPG
The signs were most welcoming.

DSC_8139 DSC_8139.JPG
The view might have been better had the weather been a little nicer.

GOPR5408 GOPR5408.JPG
We arrived a bit sweaty.

MountainMonastery1 MountainMonastery1.jpg
The main pagoda was very well–kept.

IMG_0475 IMG_0475_oB20.JPG
Shiny shrine

IMG_0479 IMG_0479_oE1E.JPG
We gathered this was the likeness of some famous leader associated with the place.

IMG_0482 IMG_0482_o8AF.JPG
I think this was another one.

DSC_8155 DSC_8155.JPG
These were some workers who were on break.

DSC_8158 DSC_8158.JPG
Perhaps they built this place.

MountainMonastery3 MountainMonastery3.jpg
Or this one?

IMG_0493 IMG_0493_o17A.JPG
This must have been an original stupas associated with the monastery.

DSC_8161 DSC_8161.JPG
Now we’re famous, too.

IMG_0498 IMG_0498_o6DC.JPG
Elizabeth likened this place to Rivendell, a place we’ve always wanted to visit.

DSC_8162 DSC_8162.JPG
We only saw young monks running about.

DSC_8168 DSC_8168.JPG
No other tourists besides us, either.

DSC_8169 DSC_8169.JPG
The stairs were quite cool, though.

GOPR5415 GOPR5415.JPG

DSC_8172 DSC_8172.JPG
These must have been the main living quarters.

DSC_8164 DSC_8164.JPG

IMG_0510 IMG_0510_oF5C.JPG
On the road back down

DSC_8175 DSC_8175.JPG
A view of the rain forest

DSC_8184 DSC_8184.JPG
This poor fellow was being tormented by biting flies.

DSC_8192 DSC_8192.JPG
Cool Cobweb

DSC_8190 DSC_8190.JPG
Must have been rich people living here.

IMG_0513 IMG_0513_o0DB.JPG
We saw a fair number of orphanages.

DSC_8194 DSC_8194.JPG
This was more of a normal school, I think.

DSC_8195 DSC_8195.JPG
This was the entry way to a village on stills, essentially the town associated with the Buddhist temple we saw earlier across the road.

DSC_8199 DSC_8199.JPG
We wandered through for some refreshment and a bite to eat.

DSC_8201 DSC_8201.JPG
We ended up at the cafe in the center of this image.

IMG_0521 IMG_0521_o689.JPG
Life in the fast boardwalk

DSC_8205 DSC_8205.JPG
It was good to sit down and have a little something to drink.

GOPR5420 GOPR5420.JPG
So Thirsty!
Like a coconut bigger than your head

DSC_8207 DSC_8207.JPG
Local fish, no doubt — bony, but good!

IMG_0525 IMG_0525_oA94.JPG
You’d never know we were tourists.

DSC_8206 DSC_8206.JPG
This guy, though...

DSC_8224 DSC_8224.JPG
Lunch rush hour

DSC_8225 DSC_8225.JPG

DSC_8231 DSC_8231.JPG
Any port in a storm. Or this.

DSC_8233 DSC_8233.JPG
Home status is having the most posts in the water, I guess.

DSC_8232 DSC_8232.JPG
These are the so–called "floating gardens," where many of their vegetables are grown.

DSC_8242 DSC_8242.JPG
Another view of the cafe where we had lunch

IMG_0533 IMG_0533_oA65.JPG
We basically walked to the end, were offered a boat ride home we should have taken, then walked back.

DSC_8226 DSC_8226.JPG
The boardwalk was fairly well–kept.

DSC_8245 DSC_8245.JPG
As were the many motor scooters we saw. I got the feeling that maintenance is an important aspect of local culture, as purchasing power is extremenly limited.

DSC_8246 DSC_8246.JPG
A pupular spot

DSC_8247 DSC_8247.JPG
We are in the sticks

DSC_8250 DSC_8250.JPG
Another wannabe motorcade

DSC_8253 DSC_8253.JPG
These were the common buses they had running everywhere. I’ve no idea how you signed up for it, but they must have had regular runs they made.

DSC_8257 DSC_8257.JPG
Heading back from the market

DSC_8260 DSC_8260.JPG
Some of the homes had billboards on them — apparently an easy way to make a little money.

DSC_8261 DSC_8261.JPG
Side of the Road
Trash heaps were common by the side of the road. It seemed like people just dumped whatever they didn’t want anymore, and eventually burned it as best they could.

IMG_0535 IMG_0535_oDBC.JPG
Contrast with where we were staying.

IMG_0536 IMG_0536_o32A.JPG
We did.

DSC_8263 DSC_8263.JPG
That afternoon, we rented a canoe to take us to various sights along the lake that Elizabeth had selected, along with one or two recommended by our captain.

DSC_8268 DSC_8268.JPG
This appeared to be a canoe train of some sort.

IMG_0542 IMG_0542_oA8F.JPG
And here was a midlake shrine.

IMG_0551 IMG_0551_o4F1.JPG
Post Office
Conveniently located.

DSC_8278 DSC_8278.JPG
They were above water. They just didn’t look like it.

DSC_8280 DSC_8280.JPG
Another fisherman

IMG_0557 IMG_0557_o89F.JPG
Taking video of our approach

DSC_8292 DSC_8292.JPG
This is one of the more famous shrines in the region, Phaung Daw Oo.

DSC_8349 DSC_8349.JPG
Phaung!

InlayLakeTemple6 InlayLakeTemple6.jpg
Daw!

InlayLakeTemple7 InlayLakeTemple7.jpg
Oo!

DSC_8322 DSC_8322.JPG
This was a most unusual spot, which only men were allowed to approach. (Or anyone who didn’t consider herself a lady, I guess.)

IMG_0644 IMG_0644_oC93.JPG
These were the Five Golden Buddha’s, which originally started out the size of egg cups.

DSC_8324 DSC_8324.JPG
Over the years, men (and men only) had added leaf after leaf of gold (which many people tried to sell me on the way in) to the Buddhas, until each one must have weighed hundreds of pounds. Seems like it would have been no problem to slice a bit off as a souvenir, but I thought better of it...

GOPR5445 GOPR5445.JPG
The whole place was built a bit like a carnival house.

GOPR5446 GOPR5446.JPG
Everywhere shiny shiny

GOPR5449 GOPR5449.JPG
Not a merry–go–round or ride of any sort, as it turned out.

GOPR5450 GOPR5450.JPG
Purpose of design: unknown

GOPR5454 GOPR5454.JPG
Lots of little shrines, though

GOPR5447 GOPR5447.JPG

DSC_8350 DSC_8350.JPG
Heaven’s bells

DSC_8352 DSC_8352.JPG
Hark of the covenant

DSC_8356a DSC_8356a.jpg
Boating on to the next stop

DSC_8365 DSC_8365.JPG
A wood–carving shop and boat–maker

DSC_8377 DSC_8377.JPG
Each canoe was carved from two solid pieces of teakwood.

InlayLakeBoathouse1 InlayLakeBoathouse1.jpg
It was then sealed with a heavy sap–based varnish.

GOPR5467 GOPR5467.JPG
No nails were used in the construction — the smaller canoe in the foreground is considered "family–sized."

InlayLakeBoathouse2 InlayLakeBoathouse2.jpg
More infrastructure. This was the building water supply — rain barrels mounted on the roof.

DSC_8362a DSC_8362a.jpg
We saw many power lines supported by barely functional sticks crossing this way and that over the water.

IMG_0605 IMG_0605_oC6C.JPG
Very mysterious why the power was so unreliable...

DSC_8429 DSC_8429.JPG
Yes, ma’am — best construction in the region. Check out those solid rock foundations!

DSC_8430 DSC_8430.JPG
Setting up the scaffolding for a major high–rise

DSC_8376 DSC_8376.JPG
Like this one

DSC_8410 DSC_8410.JPG
On the way to market

DSC_8564 DSC_8564.JPG
Bus?
Sit still back there!

DSC_8428 DSC_8428.JPG
Family station wagon

DSC_8412 DSC_8412.JPG
Tourist shop next to ancient temple

DSC_8503 DSC_8503.JPG
Or maybe just one in need of a little upkeep

DSC_8416 DSC_8416.JPG
For some reason "cherry" was often associated with restaurants. Maybe it was a chain?

DSC_8414 DSC_8414.JPG
When one house starts to fall apart, build an identical one next to it. Keep trading off.

DSC_8417a DSC_8417a.jpg
I think this guy was a repairman. He must not have repaired houses.

DSC_8422a DSC_8422a.jpg
One of the more solid places we passed

DSC_8425 DSC_8425.JPG
This must have been a business establishment; why else would it be so fancy?

See high-speed canal tour here.

DSC_8461 DSC_8461.JPG

DSC_8439 DSC_8439.JPG
Our next stop was a fabric manufacturer, which was pretty good–sized.

IMG_0576 IMG_0576_o34D.JPG
Their most expensive fabrics were made from lotus stems, whose harvesting is tightly regulated by the government.

IMG_0575 IMG_0575_oC15.JPG
The natural polymers are rolled into a loose thread, which is spooled and dried.

IMG_0582 IMG_0582_oC50.JPG
This gets woven into larger threads...

IMG_0581 IMG_0581_o335.JPG
...which are then stained or dyed.

IMG_0583 IMG_0583_oCC6.JPG
I assume this is the drying and spooling process.

InlayLakeLooms InlayLakeLooms.jpg
The fabrics are woven on a collection of hand–looms.

IMG_0585 IMG_0585_o3AF.JPG
I don’t think electricity or motors of any sort are involved in the completely manual process.

IMG_0587 IMG_0587_oD39.JPG
The results were beautiful.

DSC_8445 DSC_8445.JPG
Perhaps they had a final dying process they used (sometimes)?

InlayLakeFabricShop InlayLakeFabricShop.jpg
It was clear that they produced a lot of fabric here, which they offered for sale in this warehouse–like store.

IMG_0594 IMG_0594_oF61.JPG
Most of the colorful fabric was made into "longies" (sp?) like these.

DSC_8474 DSC_8474.JPG
Back to the boat for one last official stop

IMG_0596 IMG_0596_o01B.JPG
Oo Shoo
Our captain–guide

IMG_0604 IMG_0604_o384.JPG
Elizabeth was good at capturing the reflections with her iPhone.

IMG_0600 IMG_0600_o43C.JPG
We saw a few cats that were kept as pets.

DSC_8515a DSC_8515a.jpg

DSC_8523 DSC_8523.JPG

IMG_0614 IMG_0614_o61D.JPG

DSC_8532a DSC_8532a.jpg
People seemed to use whatever materials they could get for making their houses and other structures.

DSC_8535 DSC_8535.JPG

DSC_8538 DSC_8538.JPG

DSC_8545 DSC_8545.JPG

DSC_8546 DSC_8546.JPG

DSC_8549 DSC_8549.JPG

DSC_8554 DSC_8554.JPG

DSC_8557 DSC_8557.JPG

DSC_8563 DSC_8563.JPG

DSC_8570 DSC_8570.JPG

DSC_8587 DSC_8587.JPG
We saw a few colorful houses like this one, but paint seemed not to be a thing.

DSC_8596 DSC_8596.JPG
I didn’t think about it at the time, but I suppose covering your canoe was important if you didn’t want it to sink in a particularly heavy monsoon.

DSC_8597 DSC_8597.JPG
A major advantage of the canoes was their ability to carry a good deal of cargo while still being able to pass each other at speed on narrow waterways.

DSC_8598 DSC_8598.JPG
Our final stop was the "Jumping Cat" monastery, where monks *used* to train domestic cats to jump through hoops.

DSC_8640a DSC_8640a.jpg
They gave up on training some time ago, but the cats were still about.

JumpingCatMonestary JumpingCatMonestary.jpg

DSC_8617 DSC_8617.JPG
The main hall was beautifully appointed, with an unusual array of Buddhist shrines.

DSC_8603 DSC_8603.JPG
Rather than giving each one its own little alcove, they were all lined up on a single platform.

DSC_8606 DSC_8606.JPG

DSC_8610a DSC_8610a.jpg

DSC_8612a DSC_8612a.jpg

DSC_8615a DSC_8615a.jpg
Lots of gold and real gems

IMG_0652 IMG_0652_o0BD.JPG
And of course, kitties

DSC_8633 DSC_8633.JPG
Elizabeth found a friend.

IMG_0655 IMG_0655_oBAB.JPG

IMG_0658 IMG_0658_oA60.JPG
Back in the boat to head back to our hotel

DSC_8658 DSC_8658.JPG
We essentially went the length of the lake to get back, which was several miles.

DSC_8662 DSC_8662.JPG
I still haven’t identified this bird, but it was definitely my favorite.

IMG_0665 IMG_0665_oE9F.JPG
Arriving back to our home dock

InlayLakeResort4 InlayLakeResort4.jpg
Our final morning in Myanmar greeted us with brilliant sunshine.

DSC_8684a DSC_8684a.jpg
We had a little breakfast, then borrowed the bikes again to go check out the nearby winery.

DSC_8689a DSC_8689a.jpg
Visible from the dock was a monastery with long stairs leading down to the water across the lake, which looked inviting though we never did make it there.

DSC_8692 DSC_8692.JPG
Watermelon juice. If you like that sort of thing.

DSC_8695 DSC_8695.JPG
The sun gave way to overcast skies, which was just as well as we had some uphill to climb and it was plenty warm without the sun.

DSC_8698 DSC_8698.JPG
Passing an oxcart on the way

DSC_8700 DSC_8700.JPG
And another monastery

DSC_8702 DSC_8702.JPG
As well as this school (Inlay Heritage project)

DSC_8719 DSC_8719.JPG
One of the few modern structures we saw

InlayHeritageSchool1 InlayHeritageSchool1.jpg
Very nice, actually

DSC_8704 DSC_8704.JPG
Here’s the winery. Also modern, but more conventional.

DSC_8705 DSC_8705.JPG
We didn’t actually have any wine, or see any visitors besides ourselves.

DSC_8708 DSC_8708.JPG
The view was quite nice, though.

DSC_8707 DSC_8707.JPG
The gardeners were working hard.

GOPR5503 GOPR5503.JPG

DSC_8717 DSC_8717.JPG
Vineyards

DSC_8713 DSC_8713.JPG

DSC_8732a DSC_8732a.jpg
Iggy
This guy was probably 15 inches or so, including his tail.

DSC_8733 DSC_8733.JPG
Bankok Airport
The Bankok airport, which was one of our two stops on the interminable flight home.

Back to Places

Back to snapshots

Back to Greg's home page

Page created July 16 2017 9:16:20a