Visions of Myanmar

Imagination is all you need in the ancient, history rich land of Myanmar. From the fisherman of Inle Lake who spend many years mastering a unique one-legged rowing technique, to the last few living women with beautiful tattooed faces in Chin province, the people of this country are remarkable.

I awoke to a quiet scene of fishermen floating on Inle Lake in the dark of twilight, with hints of a sunrise that was looking promisingly spectacular.

The fishermen here have mastered the art of standing on one leg while wrapping the other around an oar to allow for fine paddle control. This way they can precisely steer through thick vegetation that often appears on the lake, and their special technique allows them to keep one hand free for using nets and other implements.

It is a delicate balancing act, acquired through many years of practice. To watch these fishermen glide over the water using S-shaped patterns made with their feet and oars is a calming and peaceful experience. 

The fishermen start their day on the lake just before dawn to catch the fish that will later be sold at the markets. Their fine sense of balance is a result of practicing the technique since childhood.

To reach Inle Lake, I took an overnight bus to the small town of Kalaw. During the three day trek to the lake from Kalaw, I captured these sun rays at dawn on a rice terrace.

Near Kalaw, I saw these early morning workers cutting wood from the forest and bringing it back to their village.

This lady worked in an umbrella and paper goods shop on the lake.

A journey aboard a local ferry took me from Sittwe to Mruak-U.

The boat was filled with locals also travelling the eight hour trip, and some entertained themselves by throwing grain to feed the gulls.

Three boys play with their bow and arrow early one morning in the village of Mrauk-U.

Taken early morning in the village of Mrauk-U.

Before leaving the town of Sittwe, I took this portrait of an elegant old lady at a fish market.

While exploring monasteries in the town of Mandalay, I came across this child who was playing amongst some ruins in the grounds.

This little girl was saying a prayer in a temple complex in Sagaing.

One afternoon in Sagaing, the warm orange sunlight radiates over a dusty plain late, as a farmer heads home on his cart pulled by two oxen.

The U-Bein Bridge in Amarapura is the longest teak bridge in the world and sees much traffic as people make their way over Taungthaman Lake. It extends for 1.2 kilometres, and has no hand rails.

In the photograph below, the sun sets over the ancient temples of Bagan.

A man watches over his cattle by one of the ancient temples as the sun sets a warm orange glow.

In Yangon, I was visiting a school and giving an English lesson. A sparrow flew into the classroom and received a lot unwanted attention.

Thanaka paste is worn on the skin of women, children and sometimes men, and is used for skin protection. It also seems to be worn for decoration with everyone having different patterns on their faces.

Made from a tree root and water, this tradition is very popular and quite unique with the majority of people wearing it every day.

“The Eyes of Truth”

A portrait of Pipua wearing thanaka paste.

In the Chin state, beautiful girls from rural villages had their faces tattooed in order to taint their beauty and stop men from other tribes and kingdoms unwillingly taking them away and forcing them to marry.

After many centuries in Myanmar, this tradition has now come to an end with the few last remaining generations of tattooed ladies alive today.

In my experience the people of Myanmar are friendly, polite, kind and generous, and it’s a pleasure to be in their company. With ancient landscapes, unique culture and beautiful people — Myanmar is one of my favourite places in the world to visit.

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David Lazar

A travel photographer and musician from Brisbane, who loves to capture moments of life, beauty and culture through photography.

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