Looking across the Ananda Phaya

This is our entry in Lost in Translation’s THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: WINDOWS.

This Burmese monk is framed by many windows as we look across the Ananda Phaya (pagoda, or temple) in Bagan, Myanmar. The temple was designed as a perfectly proportioned Greek cross, with two parallel walkways around a square central room. The photo was taken from the outermost walkway, across the innermost walkway and intervening walls, to capture the image of the monk in the inner room. This Buddhist temple was built in 1105 AD, damaged by the 1975 earthquake, and now completely restored.

Incidentally, the niche in front of the monk contains a mirror that is reflecting silhouettes of us photographers and the grated window to the outside behind us.

This photo was taken on February 9, 2017. Specs are: Olympus TG-4, ISO 800, f/2.2, 1/30 sec, 5.14 mm

Left in the dust in Bagan

These Burmese children in Bagan have decided to run to the left side of the divide in the road, while the women are headed for the right side.


Trivia: Myanmar switched from driving on the left side of the road to the right side in 1970. The vast majority of car owners in Myanmar own used right-hand drive cars imported from Japan, which drives on the left side of the road. We could not determine which side of the road was correct for pedestrians, although the driver of a right-hand drive car could be better able to see a pedestrian on the right side of the road. We saw pedestrians using both sides of the road (and the middle).

This photo was taken on February 8, 2017. Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 1600, f/8.0, 1/1250 sec, 33 mm

Meditate in Radiance

This is our entry in The Daily Post Daily Prompt: Radiate.

We visited Bagan, Myanmar, in February 2017. On our first day there, we went on a photo shoot with a self-taught photographer named Maung Maung Bagan, whose stunning photos have won numerous international awards.  Near the end of our afternoon shoot, Maung Maung drove us, with our young hired monk, to a small square temple at the end of a small dusty road. The temple was locked, but the caretaker and two helpers were waiting for us. A 5000 kyat bill (less than $4 US) passed from our hands to the caretaker, and we all entered the temple.  On the western wall of the temple was a small alcove framing a perforated stone window, with light radiating from the setting sun. What a beautiful place for meditation!

iBallRTW-Afternoon in a Pagoda

Radiation for Meditation

This photo was taken on February 8, 2017, just before sunset. Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 100, f/8, 1/50 sec, 18 mm

Sulamani Temple – 52 Weeks Photo Challenge:Week 31 – Empty Space

This is our entry in 52 WEEKS PHOTO CHALLENGE:WEEK 31 – EMPTY SPACE.

The two-story Sulamani Temple is a popular Buddhist temple located in Minnanthu, a village southwest of Bagan, Myanmar. Built in 1183 and damaged in the 1975 earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1994. Inside, visitors can find frescoes on the walls and Buddha statues. For a few minutes while we visited, the corridor pictured below was empty. We can imagine that many religious ceremonies must have happened in this hallway over the centuries.

Sulamani Temple

This photo was taken on February 9, 2017.  Specs are:

Olympus Tough TG-4, ISO 800, f/2.0, 1/30 sec, 4.5 mm

Bagan Photo Shoot #4: The Alms Line

This post continues our series describing photography sessions with the photographer Maung Maung Bagan in Bagan, Myanmar.  As our morning photo shoot with the young monk was nearing 11 am, we made one last stop at an “alms line.” This line of 20 statues is headed by Buddha, indicated by the Ushnisha (enlightenment elevation) on top of his head and the elongated ears.   He and the following 19 monks hold alms bowls. We cannot read the signs at the feet of the statues, but they are probably lessons in Buddhism. Our model is carrying his sandals because the walkway beside the statues is sacred.

iBallRTW-Alms Line-1
Alms Line

This photo was taken on February 8, 2017. Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 400, f/5, 1/1000 sec, 37 mm

For the earlier posts in this series, see:

Bagan Photo Shoot 1: I need a map

Bagan Photo Shoot 2: The Firewood Seller

Bagan Photo Shoot 3: The Monk at Prayer

Stay tuned for more posts in this series, using different models in the afternoon of the same day.

A Monk Waiting for Sunset

This is our entry in Lost in Translation’s THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: WAITING.

This photo was taken in Bagan, Myanmar, on the top terrace of the Shwesandaw Pagoda. We, along with hundreds of other tourists, had climbed the steep steps (in our bare feet) and were crowded together on the western levels of this magnificent pagoda to witness the setting sun.  At the very end of our terrace, a monk had climbed onto the corner parapet for an unobstructed view.

Monk Awaiting Sunset

We were on the upper terrace of the 328-foot-high pagoda, but if he had slipped, he would have fallen “only” 15 feet to the next terrace down.

This photo was taken on February 9, 2017.  Specs are:

Olympus Tough TG-4, ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/100 sec, 18 mm

A Novitiate Monks’ Parade in Bagan

This is our entry in The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Surprise.

As we were being driven to a temple in Bagan, Myanmar, we came across a parade. In the middle of the parade were musicians, a loudspeaker, and this dancing guy. This parade was not put on for tourists and was a very pleasant surprise.

Dancing in the Novitiate Monks’ Parade


This “parade” is part of the Shinbye, or novitiate ceremony, of Theravada Buddhism, that occurs only once a year for the ordination of boys under 20.  The dancing man with his mustache and umbrella represented the clown U Shwe Yoe.  The procession, called the shinlaung hlè pwe, ends at the monastery for the ordination ceremony.

Novice-to-Be Monk

These novice-to-be monks walk at the head of the parade and are followed by parents, young women in their finery, and children who will be expected to participate in their own parade when they are older.

Beautiful Young Women in the Novitiate Monks’ Parade

The very young children in the parade are there to please their grandparents, in case the grandparents should die before the grandchildren’s official parade. At least this is what we were told, because it seemed to us that every child and parent in the village was in this parade. The young boys are dressed lavishly, as princes, and shielded by golden umbrellas, to symbolize their departure from sensuous pleasures and luxuries.

Distant Future Novice-to-Be Monk

There was the usual dichotomy of wealth (or indebtedness) exhibited in this parade, with the least expensive (and most modest) transportation in the front (e.g., walking, followed by horseback riding) and the most expensive bringing up the rear (horse-drawn carts followed by oxen-drawn carts). This was the most lavish cart at the end of the parade, and was hired for the occasion from another town.

The End of the Novitiate Monks’ Parade