Myanmar 2014

Best of Myanmar 14 day Intrepid tour visiting Yangon, Bagan, Balloons over Bagan, Mount Popa, Irrawaddy River cruise, Mandalay, Kalaw, Inle Lake then returning to Yangon. In 1989, the military government changed the name of the country from Burma to Myanmar. An amazing tour and a fantastic tour group.

Yangon street scene
Postcard seller. Thanaka is a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark. It is a distinctive feature of the culture of Myanmar, seen commonly applied to the face and sometimes the arms of women and girls, and is used to a lesser extent also by men and boys.
Street protest in Yangon
Shwedagon Pagoda – Yangon. The temple is full of worshippers praying and lighting candles. Candles are an age old traditional part of Buddhist rituals. In conjunction with incense and flowers, they are placed in front of Buddhist shrines or statues and images of the Buddha as a mark of respect. They are often accompanied by offerings of food and drink. The light of the burning candle flame represents the light of the Buddha’s teachings. Candles and incense also evoke the state of impermanence and change. Their light can also be said to symbolize the enlightenment of the Buddha
Htilominio temple – Bagan. This large temple was built by King Nantaungmya in 1218 and is 46 metres tall.
A tourist poses in front of Htilominlo temple – Bagan
A local street vendor at Htilominlo temple – Bagan
Rie at Shew Zi Gone Pagoda – Bagan. Construction of the Pagoda began during the reign of King Anawrahta and was completed in 1102 AD during the reign of King Kyansittha of the Pagan Dynasty.
Monks at the Shwe San Daw Pagoda – Bagan
Tourists at the Shwe San Daw Pagoda – Bagan. The pagoda’s bell rises from two octagonal bases which top the five square terraces. This was the first monument in Bagan to feature stairways leading from the square bottom terraces to the round base of the pagoda itself.
Bagan sunset
Bagan sunrise
Hot air balloon over Bagan
Fresh produce markets at Bagan
Novitiation ceremony – Bagan
Novitiation ceremony – Bagan
Group photo at the summit of Mount Popa. A day excursion from Bagan.
Balancing act at the summit of Mount Popa. Mount Popa is a volcano 1,518m above sea level, located 50km southeast of Bagan, in the Pegu Range.
Popa Taungkalat Monastery. The monastery at Taungkalat (meaning ‘Pedestal Hill’) is famous for being home to 37 nats (spirits), which are represented by statues at the base of the volcanic outcrop. From here, you can climb up the 777 steps to the monastery at the top, where you will find a 360 degree panorama and a labyrinth of shrines to explore.
Irrawaddy River cruise for 2 days
Sunrise on the river
Sagaing with numerous Buddhist monasteries is an important religious and monastic centre. The pagodas and monasteries crowd the numerous hills along the ridge running parallel to the river.
Worshippers apply gold leaf to the Buddha image at Mahamuni temple – Mandalay.
Mandalay Hill, Mandalay

Nun at Mandalay Hill
Ceremony at Mahamuni temple – Mandalay. Novitiation Ceremony, known as Shinbyu, is one of the most important events in a Buddhist’s life in Myanmar.
Workers making marble images of Buddha – Mandalay
Monks on their daily alms-round – collecting food is a discipline practiced by ordained monks. Monastery – Mandalay.
Nun Monastery – Mandalay
U Bein bridge – the 1.2 km bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world
Sunset at U Bein bridge
Pindaya Limestone Caves – Shan State
Welcome to Kalaw. Kalaw has a laid back atmosphere, refreshing climate and scenic views. Many of Kalaw’s original colonial-era building remain and it is known as Myanmar’s trekking mecca.
Chinese made truck
School children – Kalaw. The children’s home is funded by the Rural Development Society, allowing children from remote villages to attend the school at Kalaw. I was taking photos of the scenery just outside the school when the girl in the middle with the soccer ball came up and starting talking to me and invited me to see the school.
Pyae Pyae Shan noodles restaurant – Kalaw
The restaurant staff
Trekking in Kalaw. Children greet us as we pass through local villages.
Kalaw trek
Kalaw trek
Kalaw trek
Inle Lake
Inle Lake
Inle Lake
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda – Inle Lake. The Pagoda houses five small gilded images of Buddha, which have been covered in gold leaf to the point that their original forms can not be seen. Only men are permitted to place gold leaf on the images.
Red Mountain Winery – Inle Lake. A great afternoon sampling wines and enjoying lunch.
Jackie, Aleks & Rie at the Red Mountain Winery – Inle Lake. The superb Muscat fortified wine was the pick of the bunch.
Inle Lake
Shwe Inn Dein temple complex – Inle Lake, which contains 1,045 Stupas.
Inle Lake
Viewpoint Shan restaurant – Inle Lake. A superb up-market restaurant, bookings essential. I enjoyed braised goat leg with roasted red pepper, Shan rice in banana leaf and stir-fried veges with soya.
Farewell dinner at Feel restaurant in Yangon