Archive for March, 2014

I know nuts about photography.

But below shots make me satisfied for possessing a DSLR.  Not because those are great but because they look okay to be my Facebook/Twitter Cover without any hassle of linking/captioning for attribution. I was a big fan of Creative Commons but I have frequently encountered situations where you can’t conveniently give credit by linking back , on Instagram for instance. Long story short, I become a fan of CC0 aka public domain photos and guess what, all these photos in this post are released under public domain. I posted some of them on Pixabay – a Flickr for public domain addicts and many on Open Myanmar Photo Project (Self reminder : I have to write a post about it.)

Fisherman at Inle Lake

Fisherman at Inle Lake, 2013

This was taken last December. Not edited. I have no idea how and when I clicked the camera but I think it looks nice. Of course, not on photographers’ standard but if you put that on the scale of what-on-earth-is-photography, I guess, this looks fabulous. Whatever.

international women day burma

Sunflower fileds in Aung Pan, Shan State. 2013

Thank to ribbet.com, I could tweak this photo into a more retro-ish one while I have no clue how to do that in Photoshop. I took this while I was on car during a road-trip from Inle to Taunggyi or around there. I did not know what the girl was doing but when I was browsing all the photos I had taken during that trip, this particular one caught my attention. I feel like it is screaming “HOPE”, no?

Fisherman at Inle Lake sunset

Another Fisherman at Inle Lake during sunset. 2013

This is something special (not edited). Pixabay editors thought it was great. And nearly 700 people downloaded it. Believe me, it is way more fun to see many people across Internet is happily using your photo than putting your name as watermark and upload it to Facebook. 😉

Cathedral Church

Cathedral Church, Yangon. 2012

I had never taken a pic by heavily shifting my body position before that. I didn’t know I should do that to capture something in a different aspect, too. But the glamour of this church unconsciously hit me and I got that. Nothing that fantastic. But, I like it a lot. This is also not retouched.

Bagan Museum

Bagan Museum, 2011

It is not a great-looking photo. The building is not even ancient, just intimating other buildings with Bagan style. But I like the crispiness of the cloudy blue sky. I think I did not edit this either.

That’s all for now. Remember, all of these photos are released in public domain so you can use it anywhere, with or without modification, be it for commercial purpose or personal use and without attribution to me. Again, let me repeat this though it might sound irritating, I made it public domain not because my shots were great but just because I like to fulfill people’s needs in case there is someone out there who need to use a not so ugly picture of Myanmar without giving the credit back. I would just secretly wish they would not use these pics for hateful/harmful purposes.

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Down to the point, I got married in exactly three months ago. *wink*

myanmar wedding

I haven’t blogged about it here although I keep a separate entity of my wedding blog somewhere else since I think it is too personal. On the other hand, I think I shouldn’t give a miss to blog about my honeymoon under travel list here.

I wanted to go to Myeik which is my hometown. Let’s just say it didn’t work out for various reasons. We settled our thoughts with Ngwe Saung and another charming place before we flied to Yangon. And our honeymoon started.

honeymoon

Ngwe Saung

Let Ngapali be most beautiful beach in Myanmar, Ngwe Saung has most beautiful staffs with biggest smile! Silence of sort of private beach, spacious yet cozy bungalow and scrumptious sea food are all harmonized with our new joy right after wedding.

Ngwe Saung Beach Myanmar

We left Yangon on 12th December in the early morning to catch the coach direct to Ngwe Saung. No one in love would complain about 5 hours ride to the beach. To hold my title of “complain queen”, I encountered something awful once our bus touched the sand of Ngwe Saung. That’s what I posted that time.

It was not quite clear if they assume only foreigners read English or they think there were other resources about it in Burmese elsewhere which apparently there weren’t any.

We took a trishaw to go to our bungalow from where the bus had stopped. If you could afford, please pay more than they ask since it is hard for them to survive. (We did.) We chatted a bit with tri-shaw driver and he told us the story of how palm tress there were cut off for hotels to be built. While I appreciated development of tourism business there, it was disheartening to hear that no one had been taking responsibility to replace locals’ original businesses. He said their coconut related business was good back then and after demolishing of many coconut trees, some people even commit suicide due to the struggle they had faced.

Trishaw Ngwe Saung Myanmar

Ngwe Saung Village

Trishaw drivers and their family live in such houses at the village near Ngwe Saung Beah

I was amused by the look and feel of our bungalow. It was quite spacious for two of us. As the hotel did not seem to have local food (weirdo, I know), we asked the reception to recommend some beach restaurant that sold yummy seafood. We called the restaurant, they delivered what we ordered within like 30 minutes and we tucked into it! I think I forgot everything when I ate lobster while gazing at the beach and feeling beach breeze.

Bay of Bengal Ngwe Saung

Bay of Bengal, Ngwe Saung

I forgot everything when I ate lobster while gazing at the beach and feeling beach breeze.

I forgot everything when I ate lobster while gazing at the beach and feeling beach breeze.

Even the bathroom was lovely. In the evening of first day, we tried to walk to the village market and get some more information and yacht competition that was part of SEAGames. Thank to whoever responsible for that, we had none and eventually we gave up and enjoy the rest of our honeymoon by eating, sleeping, chit-chatting and eating. What else honeymoons are for?

Ngwe Saung BOB Bathroom

Although lobster was spectacular, I preferred calm and crab. My other half is not a fan of sea we kept surfing comfortable waves minimal. On the second day, we enjoyed the sunset in the sea. The experience was spectacular. He was singing songs funnily while I was trying to capture how beautiful the world is. When I think about it now, I still could feel how pleasant the environment was and how awesome I was feeling. Too special. Too yummy.

Ngwe Saung Beach Myanmar

lobster Ngwe Saung

Supporting Myanmar Vs Thai football match of SEAGames 2014. Fried calm is in the box!

Supporting Myanmar Vs Thai football match of SEAGames 2014. Fried calm is in the box!

We brought a tripod with us so we could do some crazy stuff without the need to feel ashamed in front of a stranger who would be asked to record our moments. We took photos while we were eating, while we were in the sea, while we were walking and while we were talking. Such joyous three days could probably be the best part of 2013 for me.

Ngwe Saung

Ngwe Saung

On third day evening, my best friend and her husband joined us. We had lunch together and shopped around near the restaurant. It was the only day we dine-in instead of ordering delivery since we were addicted the coziness of eating in our bungalow a lot. Believe it or not, we had all lunch and dinner from exact same restaurant! We did ask around but ended up choosing the same restaurant even on the day dining out with my friend.

Pathain Htee Ngwe Saung

Pathain Htee | Traditional umbrella largely made in Pathain, a town near Ngwe Saung in Ayeyarwaddy Division. It’s taken at village market near Ngwe Saung Beach.

Dried Fish shop Ngwe Saung

Dried fish shop at village market near Ngwe Saung beach

Ngwe Saung Beach Myanmar

After relaxing three full nights at Ngwe Saung, we wrapped our first part of honeymoon and were back to Yangon. It was fun using USDs there because when a Myanmar uses USD instead of Kyats to pay, they think very highly of him/her. The only reason we used USD was because their exchange rate was much higher than average rate and we could spend less if we paid by USD.

Now, you get some hint why I named our honeymoon “watermoon”. Guess what is another famous place in Myanmar with “water”. I shall blog about second part of our honeymoon soon.

international women day burma

It’s already March 9 in Singapore. However, it is still International Woman Day in Myanmar. I am feeling daunting a whole day for the tragedy of Malaysia Airline and still hoping to witness some miracle for all people on board so I forgot to write something for International Women Day. Long story short, let me portray how majority of women in Myanmar are self-censored. 

If there was only one challenge to empower women in Myanmar, that would be their self-censorship instead of dominant men. Since we started to know how to interact with adults, we have been taught to give cream of the top to men. My mom would always keep the best part of chicken for my dad. If we were on menses, we wouldn’t be able to perform certain actions such as cleaning altar or taking Ngapi out from the pot. Another higher level of discrimination is rooted in an intangible quality called Hpon.

 Also, there is the concept of hpon (ဘုန်း; from Sanskrit bhaga), which translates to “power”. It is used as an explanation for the varying degrees of ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender differences between people in a society.[6]Hpon refers to the cumulative result of past deeds, an idea that power or social position comes from merit earned in previous lives.[6] This idea is used to justify the prevalent view that women are less equal than men, who are considered to have more hpon.

– Wikipedia, Culture of Burma

Basically, men has more Hpon power than women. Thus, they can’t touch inner wears of women as well as any kind of women clothes meant for lower body including longyi (traditional sarong), skirt, trousers, lingeries and you name it. (Yes, how do they take those off when they were in bed with their ladies!?!) To make it more sensible (be ware of sarcasm from now on), men couldn’t walk through if there are those women’s clothes hanging above them because it would make their Hpon level lower. international women day myanmarOn top of that, at many famous pagodas or Buddha stupas, women are not allowed to enter a “special area” that is closer to the Pagoda or Stupa. Only men could go and sit at such area even thought people would pray similar things and chant similar Dhamma. Upper level at Shwedagon pagoda and front areas at Mahar Myat Mu Ni Stupa and Inle Phaung Daw Oo pagoda are all meant only for men. Oh and we can’t offer gold leaf to certain pagodas in person – for e.g. Kyite Htee Yoe (Golden Rock) Pagoda. We have to pass it to someone who has men organs to offer it on behalf of us. But then, it is applicable only at certain pagodas especially at famous ones. Women can pour water above smaller Buddha statues in famous Pagoda compound. (Now, you get the point – how awesome logic of men in our country is!) Plus, polygamy is legal for Buddhist men which means it is criminal offence if a wife commits adultery while it is fine for a husband to sleep with someone else.

When you were raped, people would spare no time blaming on you how slutty you had been instead of wondering who the horrible culprit was. During Thingyan (water festival in April), it is absolutely fine for a man to vomit on pavement during hangover while it is considered disgraceful if a girl drinks. No man would ask permission to smoke around non-smoking people and it is stupid for a woman to smoke. Guys could run half-naked in public and they would call girls who wear mini-skirts slutty.

Growing up in such society, all girls, ladies and women are so used to the rituals of the society. They are always unconsciously prioritizing men just like healthy human beings effortlessly breath in oxygen. They believe that they are meant to live so. They believe that their daughters should follow the same way since their mothers followed so. They believe that men carried better karma than women thus they are always nobler than women.

The more disheartening thing is that when a man argues groundlessly or being narrow-minded, they criticize that man for “acting like a woman” မိန်းမလိုမိန်းမရ /mein: malou mein: maja/. When a man uses dirty tricks, women denounced him for “behaving like a woman”. When a man is cowardly, they suggest him to “wear a hta mane (Myanmar traditional sarong for women)”. I think nothing is sadder than to see the women who think women are creatures who debate groundlessly, who always play dirty tricks and who are cowardly.

When you urge some normal women to do something that society does not usually allow women to do, they would response with shocking reaction. The slogan “Women can’t do that!” or “This is a woman thing” has been nailed in their brains. When their husbands betrayed, they would think of best way to attract them back. Only few of them would take legal actions or further steps towards divorce because when you are divorced, all woman and men would blame on you. Married women also assume that they are the ones who have to do all household chores despite earning income together. Sisters always accept that doing the dish for their brothers is their duties from birth.

I have no clue how we could we get rid of women refraining from obtaining what they actually want. At the very least, I could teach my future daughters how to fight for their rights and more importantly, my future sons how to deal with women fairly.

 

**If you act inhumane towards LGBTQs, I warn you not to go ahead**

A gay couple recently celebrated their 10 years of love at a hotel in Myanmar. And everyone loses their mind on Facebook.

LGBTs Rights in Myanmar

After flipping through many nasty comments towards that couple who are also working for organisations fighting for LGBTs’ rights in Myanmar, I tend to realize a few points and I feel like jotting down.

Many Myanmar can’t differentiate between Gays and Transgenders

Every thing is all the same for them. Some people complain while both of the couple wore traditional groom suites instead of one came up as the bride. Some pointed out that gays in American movies do not act like women and others criticized a gay should only be acting as Khin San Win, a famous transgender make-up artist.

Confusing, I know. But most of them do not have slightest clue on LGBTs which is sad.

They believe as if Buddha taught that gays in this life have raped others in past lives

I have been trying to find reputable English source that shares the exact sentiment. I found none so far.

That is copy-catting western culture, they say.

I believe we cannot trace back who was first ever LGBTQ in this world. I am pretty sure there are mentioning about gays in Pali Canons. I wonder how did they form such opinion claiming acting as LGBTQ is westernization.

It is against law.

The infamous Section (377) in Myanmar restricts people from having “abnormal” sex. It can be punished up to 10 years of jail sentence or life imprisonment. The catch is that it is punishable only when there is proof that they did exactly what mentioned in the section which means polices can’t grab a random gay couple and jail them just because they live together. I guess many people forget this part. Plus, it restricts not only gays but also straight people from performing “abnormal” sex, too. Blame the British, seriously.

The rest of the accusations share more or less the same points with homophobes in other countries such as “It is unnatural!”, “Gays are disgusting!” or “It is disgrace!”. Here’s a bonus point.

It is where conservative people following either of three more dominant religions in Myanmar – Buddhists, Muslims and Christians agree!