Buddhist monks

Tonight I am flying back to Myanmar, for what has now become a frequent destination. During this 2 week stay, I will get a chance to spend 5-days in Ngapali – a beach resort close to the town of Thandwe on the west coast of Myanmar. Pretty excited to be honest, because even though this will be a quite long and tiring trip, at least I will get the chance to unwind by the beach over the weekend.

With new destinations come new photo opportunities! From what I’ve read, the beaches there are really beautiful, and even though they are considered to be the best in the country, the political climate of the country has downplayed their popularity in the South East Asia region. My aim therefore this time around is to get some decent seascape pictures particularly during sunset and also portraits of the locals from the nearby fishing villages.

Below is a picture I took just over a year ago during my visit to a Buddhist monastery in the ancient city of Bagan. The young monks here wearing the traditional Buddhist red gowns are bringing food for their elders just in time for lunch.

Bagan priests - 1920c

Shot with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200 F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 200, F.5.0 @ 1/800 sec.

The ancient city of Bagan

A few months ago, if someone had asked me where Myanmar was, admittedly I would have struggled to pin-point it on the map. Upon visiting this country, I witnessed a place undiscovered to many tourists, traveled to by only few and somewhat daring individuals. At it’s heart, in the Mandalay region and roughly a one and a half hour flight from the old capital of Yangon, lies the ancient city of Bagan, one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. The city is famous in the region for its sheer number of temples and pagodas – roughly around 2200 which have survived today out of the 13000 that were originally built in the 11th to 13th centuries.

After my first trip to Myanmar back in early September, a number of locals advised me to find the time to visit this ancient city, promising a lifetime experience and a sight like nothing I had ever witnessed.  At first I was apprehensive, but a couple of colleagues convinced me to go and thankfully I did. It was a truly unique experience and I sincerely hope I get the chance to visit again.

These temples and pagodas are considered holy and as such you can only walk inside and around them completely barefoot, which made the task of taking this picture only that much challenging! After watching the sunset on a private boat cruise, we decided to head back to the hotel for some rest. As we were driving back, I started itching for an after-sunset picture of the skyline. We asked our guide to pull over at the nearest temple, and with flashlights on hand, we started to climb the top of the temple barefoot – a somewhat scary ordeal given that we had to walk on the steep rooftop of the temple on a 15 cm wide ledge, carrying a flashlight, tripod and camera. Thankfully we managed through, and I was happy to shoot the following picture during the twilight hour.

Taken with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200 F3.5-6.3 OS lens at ISO 100, F5.6 and bracketed at -2/0/+2.

Bagan Temples Sunset - 1920cPS: I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year! See you all in 2013!

Bagan Road Workers

Just got back from a week-long trip to Myanmar and Thailand…and what a week it has been! In this short amount of time, I managed to squeeze in 2 days in the ancient city of Bagan, 4 working days in Yangon, and a 24 hour layover in Bangkok on my way back to Cyprus. As I am writing this blog post, I feel like I haven’t slept since I left Cyprus; it was rough, but admittedly I had an awesome time!

What I am even more excited about, is that I’ve managed to get some decent pictures out of this trip, which I am hoping to post on my blog over the next few weeks. This first one is one of my favorites from my first day in Bagan. As we were getting the tour around the ancient temples, we noticed a bunch of people doing some road work. On closer inspection, we realised that all of them were women dressed up in their traditional Burmese lungi and wearing identical hats. They were covered by a cloud of dust from sweeping the road, and with the sun rays piercing through the dense tree canopy above them, it created an almost dreamy effect. Suffice to say that I quickly pulled out the camera from my bag and started running towards them. I took a few shots, but this one came out best. From the look on her face, one can say that she was really baffled by my presence!

Taken with my Canon 60D and my Sigma 18-200 F3.5-6.3 OS Lens at 200mm, ISO 250 at F7.1.

Bagan Road Worker - 1920c