Face painting

A few people asked me why the kids in my previous post had paint applied all over their face. In fact the vast majority of Myanmar people and particularly the women that I saw while I was there, had that yellowish-white paste on their face. Apparently, this paste is called “Thanaka”, and is extracted from a specific tree which grows abundantly in that region. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia, which explains it in a bit more detail:

“Thanaka cream has been used by Burmese women for over 2000 years. It has a fragrant scent somewhat similar to sandalwood. The creamy paste is applied to the face in attractive designs, the most common form being a circular patch on each cheek, sometimes made stripey with the fingers known as thanaka bè gya, or patterned in the shape of a leaf, often also highlighting the bridge of the nose with it at the same time. It may be applied from head to toe (thanaka chi zoun gaung zoun). Apart from cosmetic beauty, thanaka also gives a cooling sensation and provides protection from sunburn.It is believed to help remove acne and promote smooth skin.It is also an anti-fungal.”

I took the picture below at a local tea shop towards the end of our day tour in Yangon. In fact, this girl was our waitress there, who after serving the tea (which incidentally no one touched), she thought wise to pour the entire tea pot into a plastic bag and hand it to us to take home! Gives a whole new meaning to “doggy bag” I suppose!

Taken with my Canon 60D, and Canon 24-70mm  F2.8L lens at ISO 400, at F4.5, 1/250 sec with a +1/3 EV exposure bias.

Faces and smiles of Myanmar

Poverty, malnutrition and bad hygiene are very apparent as your walk through the streets of Yangon – the result of the country’s mismanagement and years in isolation.  The words of a Myanmar university professor who we met during our trip, described it perfectly – “In the past, Myanmar people were scared to dream of the future. They would close their eyes and all they saw was nightmares. For the first time in years, they are now able to dream of change – a better tomorrow for themselves and their children”. Simply looking at the smiles on the childrens faces this is indeed very apparent.

Part of our tour included a boat ride across the Yangon river, so just before noon we arrived at the ferry terminal. The picture above is of 3 out of many children that greeted us outside the terminal, who were really eager to be photographed. Clearly their motive was money but admittedly their emotions seemed genuine. After posing for what seemed like 100 photographs, they each revealed a set of 10 postcards that they were selling for 2000 kyats (about 2 euros). One must admire the business sense of these kids, as there was no way for me to deny giving up that money; not just for the postcards, but in return for all the pictures I managed to take of them.

Shot with my Canon 60D and my Canon 24-70mm F2.8L lens at F2.8, 1/1000 sec at ISO 200.