©Wolfgang Kaehler

Run with the Wolfies: Photo tour to Myanmar (Burma) & Laos – Day 7 and 8

Run with the Wolfies: Photo tour to Myanmar (Burma) & Laos – Day 7 and 8

Tourists photographing farmers working in a field.

Farmers working in a field planted with onions along the road from Bagan to Mandalay in Myanmar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Michelle Alten

Day 7- Last night we ate dinner on our resort’s restaurant terrace overlooking the broad and tranquil Irrawaddy River.  A musician strummed a Burmese instrument, resembling a harp, as our waiter served us platters of local food, arranged in a lacquer tray.  After dinner we retired to our bungalow near a great acacia tree, laced with giant philodendron, which spreads like a parasol in the center of the hotel gardens.

 

Today we are off to Mandalay, a 19th century capital, immortalized by Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, The Road to Mandalay.  Kipling, evidently, was referring to the Irrawaddy, but we are bouncing along a rural route.  Along the way families pass in oxen-drawn carts and a woman crosses a field with her herd of goats.  We stop when we spot figures crouching as they labor busily in an onion field.  A woman approaches us as we tread gingerly among the delicate rows of onion plants.  She laughs and jokes as she sees everyone pulling out their cameras.  All the women, seated among the onions, plucking tiny bulbs for transplanting, begin to chatter and laugh.  They pose for our photos, smiling and giggling.  Kris, one of the Wolfies, pulls off a tunic to give to the jocular woman who has been our liaison.  Everyone laughs some more as the two pose together for photos.  The woman is elated—we imagine that our visit will be a topic of village conversation for some time.  It is indeed experiences like this that will make this trip so memorable.

Close-up of a noodle dish at a local restaurant in Sagaing, a town outside of Mandalay, Myanmar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later we stop at a roadside market in Myinchan, where women, seated on the ground, are preparing and selling roots of cluster beans, sweet potatoes, and a type of radish.  We go on to the Happy Hotel in Sagaing for lunch.

Students in a classroom at the public school of the Aungmyazoo Monastary in Sagaing, a town outside of Mandalay, Myanmar.

An elementary girl student fell asleep in the classroom at the public school of the Aungmyazoo Monastary in Sagaing, a town outside of Mandalay, Myanmar.

Elementary students at the door of a classroom at the public school of the Aungmyazoo Monastary in Sagaing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sagaing is the location of the Aungmyazoo Monastary where a school is literally overflowing with students. One school room after another is packed with rows and rows of children clad in red or pink robes—pink for the nuns, deep red for the monks or novices.  They loudly recite their lessons as they peer out the windows at us.

 

Tourist giving rice to nuns lined up for the alms giving ceremony at Zayertheingi,

a Buddhist nunnery in Sagaing, a town outside of Mandalay, Myanmar.

Portrait of a nun at Zayertheingi.

A nun is sifting rice at Zayertheingi, a Buddhist nunnery in Sagaing, a town outside of Mandalay, Myanmar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not far away, at the nunnery, Zayertheingi, girls, starting at the age of six, live in austere cement rooms and study Buddhist teachings.  We participate in a ceremony scooping cups of rice, which we have brought, into each of their bowls as they walk single file, singing and chanting.  Afterwards, they go about their day studying on the floor, reading from paper books and memorizing their lessons.

U Bein Bridge (built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world) reflecting in Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura, Mandalay, Myanmar.

A fisherman in his boat next to U Bein Bridge at Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura, Mandalay, Myanmar is throwing his net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 8—Our ambitious travelers rise early this morning to head for Ubein Bridge—the longest wooden bridge in the world.  Built in 1849, and stretching across Taungthamen Lake in the easy sunrise, it is a composition inspiring meditation.

A young woman is posing at the Shwenandaw Monastery (Golden Palace Monastery), which was built in 1880 by King Thibaw Min and with its teak carvings of Buddhist myths was originally part of the royal palace at Amarapura in Mandalay, Myanmar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following breakfast, we head to Shwenandaw Kyaung Monastary—the Golden Palace Monastary.  I walk up the cool cement steps in my bare feet to the warm wooden terrace, bathed in the morning sunlight.  This ornately carved monastery, adorned with guardians and laced with floral patterns, was once a palace of King Mindon.  But the king’s son later brought it to Mandalay to dedicate it as a monastery.  Imagining this exquisite work once completely covered in gold leaf, I am able to envision the palaces that once housed Mayanmar’s  many royal dynasties.

A local young woman is taking a cellphone selfie with a tourist at the Kuthodaw Pagoda on Mandalay Hill, Mandalay, Myanmar.

Waterlilies for offerings are for sale in front of the Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay Hill, Mandalay, Myanmar.

Portrait of a young woman with a decorative paste made out of the Thanaka tree on her face at the Kuthodaw Pagoda on Mandalay Hill, Mandalay, Myanmar.

 

View of rows of stupas (shrines containing inscribed marble slabs) at the Sandamuni Pagoda on the foot of Mandalay Hill, Mandalay, Myanmar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A short drive away, we come to the Kuthodaw Pagoda.  Here 729 slabs, engraved with the Buddhist teachings, are housed, each in its own stupa.  In the temple grounds, some girls approach us with Thanakha cream, made from a tree and used to make their skin light and protect it from the sun.  They make us each a design on our cheeks, a leaf from the Bodhi tree, and we take photos together.  Of course we feel compelled to buy their bells and gongs.  They demonstrate for us how to ring the gongs and skillfully manipulate the sound as they move their lips.

 

Model wearing the Eva (Inwa) Dynasty costume.

Model wearing the Bagan Dynasty costume, portrait.

Model wearing the Conboung Dynasty costume.

 

 

 

The afternoon sun is getting softer, so our group photographs models in the hotel gardens.  The vibrant costumes, adorned with gold and colored beads, date to the following periods: the Bagan Dynasty, the Eva (Inwa) Dynasty, the Conboung Dynasty and modern times.

If you are interested in a future photo tour to Myanmar, please email wolfgang@phototours.us and check the website at: https://phototours.us/

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