Myanmar (Burma) - Travel photography paradise - (Part 3 Bagan and Inle lake)

When planning my travels, I'm often try to have the most spectacular and interesting places towards the end of the trip and this how it worked out again during my latest photo-adventure to Myanmar (Burma)! I often find myself needing a few days to fully "get into the zone" during these longer photo-adventures.

In the last part of my Myanmar blog-series, we first will be visiting the ancient city of Bagan (Pagan); From the 9th till the 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first Kingdom that did unify the regions and that would eventually become modern Myanmar.

Moonrise over Dhammayan Gyi Temple,  Bagan

During the height of the Kingdom between the 11th and 13th century, more than 10.000 temples, pagodas and monasteries were built in the plains of Bagan. Today over 2200 remain in a surprisingly good condition! 

Bagan at dawn

I briefly explained in my "Pic(k) of the week 49: Balloons over Bagan" post how balloons have almost become a synonym to Bagan... 

Balloon over misty Bagan at sunset

The mystique atmosphere, as one is climbing a temple in the pitch dark, in order to be ready to shoot at first light, is something that will stay with me forever. If at all possible try to witness the beauty of Bagan in silence! This is exactly what we did on the second morning, when we went to a place which had very few tourists till well after sunrise.

Bagan silhouette at sunset

Once the best light is gone and the early morning mist clears, there are plenty of other great photo-opportunities in the neighbourhood; markets and daily life all scream to be photographed!

Collecting food for the cows near Bagan

Having tea at the local cafe in Aungpan

After two full days in this magical place, we flew to Heho, the gateway to Inle Lake. The first night in the Shan state, we stayed in Kalaw; a small hill station which used to be popular by the colonial British who wanted to escape the heat. And yes, with night temperatures below 10C, we surely needed a jacket during the early morning hours!

Playing with fire near Kalaw

Beside Bagan (Pagan), Inle Lake is the other must see place in Myanmar! As the second largest lake in Burma, this mountain lake (880m/2900ft elevation) is especially known for its one leg rowing fishermen.

Balancing act by Inle lake fisherman

The vast majority of the fishermen now use classic fishing nets, but a few still use the old cage fishing technique. We did manage to photograph a duo at work just before sunset on the last day we were there.  

Inle lake fishermen at sunset silhouette
The technique consists of lowering a cage into the shallow waters and then using a spear through the top hole in order to finish of the catch. 

The one hour boat ride across Inle lake at dawn, the morning we left Myanmar (Burma), was a perfect time to reflect on the last 12 days... 

A misty morning on Inle lake

As I explained in part 1 of the series, Myanmar has been high on my bucket list for a long time. Even though there is much more to see, the two weeks allowed us to see a big part of the country. Even though not cheap, it's definitively a photo-adventure I can recommend to all travel photographers. You are better off doing it earlier than later, as the country is clearly at the start of a big transformation!

For a country that has suppressed its people for such a long time, the friendliness of the people is really what made this experience so special. Expect an announcement of a personal project around this, in the next few days! 

Having done a total of 7 flights, staying in 7 different hotels; it was a busy two weeks. I obviously have only blogged the highlights here. For a more complete experience, please check out a gallery with over 160 images of the trip here.

Remember: "The World is a book and those who do not travel, read only one page" - St Augustine