Smoky Serenity in Bagan

This is our entry in The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene.

This post highlights another photo shoot in Bagan, Myanmar, with the international award-winning photographer Maung Maung Bagan.  (The first photo shoot is described at Bagan Photo Shoot 1: I need a map.)

This is a temple we visited in the late afternoon. It was locked, but Maung Maung had arranged for a “key man” to let us in for about $4 US.  He had also arranged for the novice Buddhist monk to be our model for another $4. 

We know that there must be particles in the air to capture sun rays in photos.  In the West, either a smoke machine or a can of spray smoke is used to illuminate the sunbeams. These normally come with strict warnings about allergies, safety, etc.  Gavin Hoey, one of our favorite presenters on YouTube, carefully describes these warnings each time smoke is used.  Maung Maung brought small bundles of some kind of dried grass, tossed them in the window behind the little monk, and lit them. The smoke was both photographically effective and choking.  After the shoot, we stood in the window where the monk is seen in the photo. We had difficulty breathing and our eyes watered.  Only then did we realize what we had just put the little novitiate through.

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

Canon SL1, ISO 1600, f/7.1, 1/80 sec, focal length 18 mm

The Sun Peeking over the Mountains in Kyaiktiyo

This our entry for The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Peek.

This photo shows the early morning sunrise from our room in the Mountain Top Hotel in Kyaiktiyo on the day we visited the Golden Rock Pagoda. The photo shows the sun barely peeking over the mountains in the distance before the start of a glorious day.


This photo was taken on February 6, 2017. Specs are:

Canon SL1, ISO 100, f/22, 1/15 sec, 90 mm full-frame equivalent.


Walking Home

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

In February 2017, we visited a makeshift village that had sprung up in the middle of the historic temples in Bagan, Myanmar. While there were occasional motorbikes, most of the villagers traveled as pedestrians to the more developed areas of Bagan where they work and purchase things needed to sustain their simple existence.

We were told that the inhabitants of this village had lived in a different village near the river, but it was completely destroyed by flooding several years ago.  (Possibly this was the heavy annual monsoon plus Cyclone Komen impacting the Irrawaddy River Delta in July 2015.) Fleeing by boat, they rebuilt here. While the villagers seem to be as settled as in any other village we saw, this is an unsanctioned settlement in an historic area. However, they are friendly and accepting, as are all Myanmar people we met.

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

Canon 100D, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, 112 mm

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

Down (includes insurance) – Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – June 23, 2017

This is our entry in Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – June 23, 2017.

In February 2017, we visited Golden Rock, the huge golden rock balanced at the top of Mount Kyaiktiyo; this is one of Myanmar’s three most sacred sites.  This photo shows trucks on the way down Mount Kyaiktiyo.  These trucks drive at breakneck speed up and down the steep twisty road.

This sign hangs in a large shed where the trucks are boarded. A front seat (which we believe is actually a seat in the cab of the truck) costs 3,000 kyat (about $2.20 USD), while a bench seat costs 2,000 kyat (about $1.50 USD) for each of the six people crammed together on it. The truck does not depart until each seat is filled. As an amusement park ride similar to a rollercoaster without any safety equipment, the price was a bargain. And life insurance is included in the price.

These photos were taken on February 6, 2017. Specs for the first photo are:

Canon 100D, ISO 1600, f/8.0, 1/400 sec, 18 mm


Shwedagon Buddha

This is our entry in Lost in Translation’s BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY: HEADSHOT.

The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). This Buddha statue is one of hundreds there, each as beautiful as the other.


This photo was taken on February 5, 2017. The original main colors of the statue are ivory (skin), gold (robe), and red (lips). The photo was converted to black and white in Lightroom. Specs are:

Olympus TG-4, ISO 100, f/3.2, 1/3 second, 9mm