Myanmar: A Mecca of Tribal Diversity
Myanmar, due to its geographic location and political situation is a country that few foreigners have traveled to. Now that democratic reforms are in place the country is wide open for tourism. If one ventures outside of the tourist trail they will encounter people that are free from the forces of globalization, have had limited contact with the outside world and it is possible to see hill tribes wearing their traditional garb and embracing their tribal culture. On this trip we will also be making a stop in Bagan and photographing its incredible pagodas as well as spending some time in Yangon.
This photography tour will bring you to the eastern Shan State and the western Chin Sate. In these two remote states we will travel by 4x4 vehicles to central villages which we will use as a base. We will have to hike into remote villages to see the true way of life. These hikes on gravel roads will take anywhere from one to two hours. What awaits us in the Shan state includes the weekly water buffalo market, women smoking pipes and wearing bright red sarongs and silver hoops, men and women with black teeth from brushing with charcoal and friendly children. We will photograph the traditional blacksmiths, laquerware, potters and the Akha, Lahu and Enn Tribes. The higher slopes where these tribesman live is magnificent. Their religion is a mixture of ancestor worship, rice ritual and animism.
The Chin State located in the far northwest is sparsely populated with limited infrastructure and the people here practice slash and burn farming. It is home to women whose tradition once included facial tattooing. It was a rite of passage and a cultural practice that brought heightened self esteem to the women of these villages. We will be stationing ourselves in Kampalet which is at an elevation of 6,000 feet and be taking daily excursions to photograph these hill peole. We will shoot the huts which are decorated with skulls, horns and bones. We will shoot small villages where extended families reside together in long homes and document the lives of these rarely photographed and visited people.
This photographic expedition is for the serious photographer/traveler who is willing to be without internet and the comforts of home. We will be staying at the best lodges in the Chin and Shan States, but it must be understood that the tourist infrastructure is in its infancy in these places. Hot water and showers are available. We will be trekking to villages and so one must be able to carry his photo equipment for up to 2 hours at a time. We will have porters and a support crew with us during these treks. Cultural sensitivity is important, for many Shan and Chin people we will be the first foreigners they have ever encountered.
Day 1: Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport you will be transferred to the Central Hotel. The group will have a meet and great dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Yangon
Day 2: Today we will start the trip by taking the circle train which weaves around Yangon. Photographing the passengers is a unique experience. Back in Yangon for lunch we will set out again in the late afternoon and photograph the Schwedagon pagoda at sunset. Overnight Yangon
Day 3: In the morning we will take the one hour flight to Kyaing Tong which is the capital city of the Shan State. After checking into our hotel we will venture out and capture shots of the traditional potters and lacquerware makers as the main market. We will have a sunset photo shoot from Lone Tree Hill which is a high point above this walled and gated city. Overnight Kyaing Tong
Day 4: The morning will be spent shooting the weekly water buffalo market. In the late morning we will journey for one hour by 4x4 and then trek ninety minutes to Ho Kyin which is a Akha village. Shooting tribal life will be the course of the day. Overnight Kyaing Tong
Day 5: We will drive one hour and reach the scenic Pintauk region where we will shoot the rice fields and patchwork quilt landscape. The Enn tribe will be photographed here and of interest is their black teeth as they brush with charcoal. We will have lunch at the Pintauk waterfall and continue shooting these little visited, extremely primitive tribes. Overnight Kyaing Tong
Day 6: We will have an early start as we drive for two hours alongside the border with China. The trek of thirty minutes will take us to Wannyut Loi village which is known for their longboat houses. It is not uncommon for up to twenty-five people to live under one roof. We will proceed for another hour by car and then take the easy trek for 30 minutes to the picturesque village of Wanseng. Overnight Kyaing Tong
Day 7: After breakfast we will fly from Kyaing Tong to Mandalay. Once there we will drive directly to Bagan. After checking into our hotel we will go and start photographing the Nandamanya temple and shoot the line drawings, the Phayathonezu temple with its fresco paintings and the beautiful Ananda temple. Sunset photoshoot will be at the Pyathtgyi temple. Overnight Bagan
Day 8: Early morning photoshoot at the the Shesandaw pagoda then back to the hotel for breakfast and a break. The afternoon will be spent visiting Bagan and the pagodas by horse cart and if desired we will have a sunset photo shoot. Overnight Bagan
Day 9: Today we will make the four hour ride to Kampalet in the western Chin Sate. After crossing the Ayeyarwaddy River we will stop in the village of Kanzummer for lunch. The road is windy with numerous hairpin turns and we will arrive in Kampalet which is 6,000 feet up. Once there the group will have the late afternoon free. Overnight Kampalet
Day 10: Tribal photography and exploration in the villages of Par Kun, Saw Luang and Kanluang will be the order of the day. We will shoot the people, crafts and way of life. Many of these Chin people have never interacted with foreigners before. Overnight Kampalet
Day 11: After breakfast we will drive to Aye Village which is called "cold village" due to the altitude. We will have the day to photograph the elderly women who have facial tattoos. We will shoot them in there homes and in the streets of this village. They wear heavy beaded skirts and head pieces. We will be passing through Natmatang National Park on our way to Mindat. Overnight Mindat
Day 12: Early morning photo opportunity in the main market and then we will start our 3 hour trek to he Pan Aut Chin village. This is the largest of the Chin villages with over 400 people. We will visit the shamans house, photograph the tattooed women, traditional homes and the local cemetery. Overnight Mindat.
Day 13: We will start our road journey back to Bagan and stop at the prosperous trading village of Pakokku. Photographing the tobacco fields and the Ayeyerwaddy river workers will take up most of the day. Overnight Bagan
Day 14: Morning at leisure in Bagan. After flying back to in Yangon we will check into our hotel and venture out to photograph the colonial buildings and the old Indian section. Farewell dinner in Chinatown. Overnight Yangon
Day 15: Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Photograph the elderly Chin women with their facial tattoos.
Capture images of the Loi people who live 3 generations per longboat house.
Visit the Enn tribes who live in the highlands and photograph their dress and black teeth.
Landscape photography will include shooting the rice fields and green patchwork surrounding Kyaing Tong.
Photograph Shan State villages and photograph these colorfully dressed people and experience their way of life.
October 1 - 15, 2015
Includes internal flights and B,L,D
Single Supplement: $700
Couples Discount: $250
Burma has just instituted an e-visa. For $50 (and I think that is less than any other way) you can apply on line and get notification in three days. You will get an email with the visa attached. They do require that you print it and provide them with the paper copy. This will allow you to avoid the potentially very long lines for the VOA when you arrive in Burma