I Wish You Were There

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I used to be very active, ambitious, outstanding and sociable person. Three years ago, I fell in love with a guy, who is also a photographer. Since before our relationship, we both knew that our story would not be an easy one. But I was much into him. We were very often on the road together shooting. I never missed an opportunity to capture him through my lens in every place we went together. And I always created an album named “I wish you were there” whenever I had to travel without him. He would have intentionally asked whom do I mean that. And I would have wickedly smiled and said why he does not know that it is he.

I thought then that we share the same dreams, energy and burring desires. I was also very assured that our relationship would somehow continue in some forms or another into the future. However, finally, I learned that it was all my delusion.

Since our separation, I struggled to be able to function well and be productive. Photography was the most difficult part. I had so lost my way that sometimes I could not even touch my camera for months. I wonder how other people lived through pain and passed through their broken-heart journeys.

Over time, the more I grappled with pain, the clearer I realized that I could use my camera as a mirror and a way to reflect my survival during my loneliest travels.

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Inle Paung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival

Inle Lake is a fresherwater lake located in the Shan Hills of Shan State in Myanmar (Burma). It is the second largest lake in Myanmar. It contains a wide range of endemic species.

The people of Inlake Lake are called Intha. They live in four cities bordering the lake, in numerous small village a long the lake’s shores and especially on the lake itself. The population consists predominantly of Intha, with a mix of other Shan and Bamar ethnicities. Most are Buddhists and live in simple houses of wood and bamboo on stilts.

Most transportation on the lake is traditionally by small boats, or by pretty larger boats with inboard diesel engines. Local fishermen are known for practicing a unique leg-rowing style, which involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. However, the log rowing style is only practiced by men. Women row in the customary style, using the oar with their lands, sitting at the stern.

Paung Daw Oo is a notable Buddhist temple site located on the Inle Lake. Annually, during the Burmese month of Thadingyut (from September to October), an 18-day pagoda festival is held. The four of The Buddha images are placed on a replica of a royal barge designed as a Hintha bird and taken throughout Inle Lake. One image always remains at the temple. The beautifully decorated barge id towed by several boats of leg-rowers rowing in unison, and other accompanying boats, making an impressive procession on water. The barge is towed from village to village along the shore of the lake in clockwise direction and the four images reside at the main monastery in each village for the night.

Many pilgrims from the surrounding region come to pay their respects and veneration. The public was allowed inside the prayer hall of the monastery to pay their respects. Finally the images would be taken to and back in the main temple of Paung Daw Oo pagoda.

Paung Daw Oo pagoda festival is the traditional cultural and religious festival where the unison, energy and spirit of Intha and their holy culture can be seen.

PS1. Unison of Intha

Unison of Intha

 

PS2. Carrying the Buddha images in the festival

Carrying the Buddha images by decorated boats

 

PS3. The pilgrims from the villages coming to the festival

The pilgrims from the nearby villages coming to the festival

 

PS4. Just entering to the monastery lane

Entering into the narrow monastery lane

 

PS5. An Intha fishing at an evening

An Intha fishing at an evening

 

PS6.The Energy and Spirit of Intha

Energy and Spirit of Intha

 

PS7.Coming from a village to another at early morning

Moving from a village to another at an early morning

 

PS8.Pilgrims, The Sunrise, The mountains and the lake

The pilgrims, the sunrise, the mountain and the lake

 

PS9. Paoh (A tribe) Pilgrims

Paoh Pelgrims

 

PS10.Every household has cultivate a plant in the festival period

Every household has to cultivate a plant in the lake during the festival period. 

 

PS11.The Faith

The Faith

 

PS12. A Village Life in Inle Lake

Village Life in Inle Lake

Tattoo-face Chin Women

The last tattoo-face women of Myanmar (Burma) can be seen in Chin State, in western Myanmar. The folklore culture is that in ancient Myanmar times, the kings and princesses from the main land of Myanmar visit to various regions and they pick up the women there as their women and those women have to serve them. Therefore, Chin women make themselves look ugly to protect from the invaders. Chin women were typically tattooed between the ages of 15 and 20. Today, the practice is almost disappeared. The youngest age of the last remaining tattooed women are in their 40s and 50s.

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In Chin culture, for any celebrations, they kill the cows and buffaloes to celebrate the event. In Chin houses, heads of cows and buffaloes can be seen. 

 

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She was looking us while shampooing her hair. 

 

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When we gave her medicines, she was very thankful and happy. 

 

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at Kampalat township! She lives together with her mother whose face is also tattooed. 

 

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She is a very nice and charming woman. 

 

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I wish I could remember all their names. This woman was seen on the way between Kampalat and Min Dat townships. 

 

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at Min Dat township! This old grandma changed into this traditional dress and wore accessories when we arrived to her house. She played the Chin traditional flute with her nose. 

A Visit to Kayan (Padaung) Women

The Kayan (also called Padaung) are a sub group of Karenni (Red Karen) people, an ethnic of Myanmar (Burma). Today, Padaung people are mostly to be found in Kayah (Karenni) State around Demawso and Loikow townships. There are also Kayan villages in Mae Hong Son province in Thailand. It is a commercial village for the tourist attraction. I was able to visite a Kayan village called “Pam Pat” in Demawso last April holiday. In fact, it’s a group of small households than a standard village. In a group of around ten small wooden houses, Kayan women live and sell the handicrafts and souvenirs they made to the visitors who come to see them.

 

Women of the Kayan are well known as “giraffe women” for wearing neck rings, brass coils that are placed around the neck. Girls first start to wear rings when they are around five years old. Over the years, the coil is replaced by a longer one and more turns are added. The coil is seldom removed, almost never removed as the coiling and uncoiling is a lengthy procedure. It is usually only removed to be replaced by a new or longer coil.

 

The Kayan women in Pam Pat village are mostly those who came back from Mae Hong Son. They said they are happier in Pam Pat as they feel it is their native land. They live in those houses with their children and make the traditional handicrafts and weave shawls. They make income by selling those things to the visitors. When I asked what their husbands do. They said smiling that he is at the village and does nothing.

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This place is at the beginning of the Pam Pat village. 

 

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Part of the housing and selling stalls. 

 

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Though the coils seem a burden for the, they are proudly saying they love to wear them. 

 

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It seems mother and children are very close. 

 

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But not all of the shawls are made by the women. Some are bought from the market. Mostly, they weave and sell their products. 

 

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They are very good (traditional) guitarist. 

 

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They make things and sell them at the same shop as well their living house. 

 

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The kitchen are with minimal things. 

 

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While they are weaving, they just put their children by themselves. 

 

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A Young Kayan girl!

 

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They also pose for the visitors and the photographers to take their pictures. 

 

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The houses are like more a temporary shelter and shop for the Kayan women. They also have a place in the village. 

Pagoda Festival at the Hill Village

Kalaw is a hill town in the Shan state of Myanmar (also known as Burma). Kalw is very famous for its cool weather and as the best destination to do trekking in Myanmar. I visit to Kalaw very often to do trekking in my holiday and to capture and documents the life of some ethnic tribes who are residing in the region. Ethnic tribes called Palung peole live in Kalaw and nearby villages. In Kalaw, some villages are called Palung villages where majority are Palung people and some hills along the Kalaw region are also called as Palaung villages. Palung people are so proud of their culture and old Palungs always wear their traditional dress. Almost all Palung people are Buddhists. Young Palung boys always go for novice and big monasteries and pagodas can be seen in every Palaung village.

 

When I visited to Kalaw last March, I had an opportunity to witness a pagoda festival in a Palung village. My guide and her brother took me to the pagoda festival where I was able to see some traditions, which we cannot much see in the low lands of the country. Palung people like the festival a lot. As a hilly region, the transportation from a place to another is quite difficult. But all the people; the olds, men, women, boys, girls and children and even little novice monks came to the festival to enjoy. Most of them came to the festival on foot by walking along the hilly villages. Some of the come in a friend group and some come with their family. One thing really interesting for me is that seeing some of the gambling games, which we don’t have in our urban cities’ festivals. Men, women, children and even monks engage in those games in the festival. It’s a five-day long festival and those hill people cannot have many festivals very often so they enjoy those days with all their energy and spirit.

 

We can see the some of the interesting and unique cultures in Myanmar through a Palung hill pagoda festival.

1. Village on the Hill

Paluang villages are situated on the hill slope.

 

2. Waiting for the Transportation at the Festival

A long of Palaung people from the nearby villages come to the festival. They are waiting a transportation to go back to their places.

 

3. The Facilitator

A man is facilitating the gamble game.

 

4. Enjoying the Game

Men, Women, Children and Even Monks enjoy with the gamble games. This game is called snake game.

 

5. Posing with Smile

Palaung Foreigner Girl: The girl posses a white skin tone like white people from the west. That is rare. So all the people call her Palaung Foreigner Girl.

 

6. The Old Ladies

Old women waiting to go back to their villages. When I approached them, they posed.

 

7. Men Playing Poker

A lot of such gamble plays can been seen at the festival. That is illegal.

 

8. Playful Kids

Playful kids nearby a stupa at the festival!

 

9. Little Monks and Boys

In Palaung, boys are being novice in their young age is very common culture. A group of novice are playing with their layman friend.

 

10. The Smile

An old Palaung woman in the traditional dress!

 

11. Waiting for the Show

People especially women and children are waiting the show. In Myanmar, shows are always an essential role in festival.

 

12. Family

A family coming to the pagoda festival. Young boy is in a novice life in such festival time.

Love Means Love

Shwe Yee (28) and Su Myat (24) have been in their relationship for a year. They both have been working as a management person and a video editor together in a creative media company where they met and fell in love each other. They now live together in Shwe Yee’s family’s house. Shwe Yee’s mother, two sisters and some of their friends recognize their relationship. On Su Myat’s side, her uncles know about their relationship. Her uncles brought up Su Myat. “It is like people neither accept nor deny our relationship. Some of our friends and relatives recognize our relationship and us. May be they don’t look that as a serious relationship. It’s okay and not a problem. We are totally fine with our relationship. And we are true to each other. ” they both said smiling. For Shwe Yee, Su Myat is her first love. “I used to have boyfriends. That’s why I realize that men don’t attract me. I was not happy being together with men. I am now very happy with her. We love to each other. And we are very willing and happy to have photo shots for the &Proud Photo Exhibition as the event period coincides with our anniversary.” Su Myat said.

Note: This photo series won the 1st Prize at &Proud Photo Competition 2016 in Series (Photo Documentary) Category. Check out &PROUD to learn more about &Proud Photo Exhibition and Contest.

 

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You can’t blame gravity for falling in love._Albert Einstein

 

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To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance._Oscar Wilde 

 

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Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love._Mother Teresa

 

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I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear._Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

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The best thing to hold onto in life is each other._Audrey Hepburn 

 

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Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies._Aristotle 

 

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True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen._Francois de La Rochefoucauld

 

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Where there is love, there is life._Mahatma Gandhi 

 

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Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile._Franklin P.Jones

 

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To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides._David Viscott 

 

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Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage._Lao Tzu 

 

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Love is a great beautifier._Louisa May Alcott 

Faces on the Road

Yangon, the largest, most populace and commercialized city, in Myanmar is a resident to people with various social and economical background. When we walk around in the downtown area of city, we can see the cultural and historical richness of Yangon. For me, the most attractive thing in strolling around the downtown Yangon is its people. I call it “Faces of Yangon”. Seeing happy, smiling, laughing, looking depressed, honest and other very emotionally expressed faces on the interesting and color roads of Yangon is always an inspiration and motivation for me not only as a photographer but also as a human being.

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“It’s not the photographer who makes the picture, but the person being photographed.”

 

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“My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain.”

 

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“The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been, and always will be.”

 

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“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”

 

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Every smile, an invitation!

 

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“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”

 

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“A thing that you see in my picture is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”

 

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“I’m passionate about old people because I am one myself.”

 

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“The earth is art, the photographer is only a witness.”