Archive for the ‘Trip’ Category

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.

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.

I have written about Pho Kyar Natural Elephant Camp before in words only. And I was wondering if there might be people who would love to see “Elephants in Action”. When I googled (or searched on youtube), there are almost no footage of  lovely little dumbos at Pho Kyar. As I have ready clips that I recorded there last year, I decided to make a vlog out of it.

The elephants in the video were not in use for logging as they were still too young to work. Their ages range from 8 to 16 years old. They were so playful (you can see it during their bathing time) and pretty clever. During elephant football match, the goalkeeper elephant did not catch the ball at all if it thought it was not going to score, only took action when kicker elephant aimed at the target correctly. How cute!

If you are sick of urban area in Myanmar that has been commercialized gradually, you may want to visit a natural elephant camp which is not too far away from Yangon. There are two famous elephant camps in Myanmar – Myaing Hay Won & Pho Kyar. I have visited to Pho Kyar Natural Elephant camp in last December.

We had booked a car for 9 pax though we managed to go with only 5 people. It cost 300,000 kyats (375 USD). That means if you can gather 9 people, you would need to pay only about 42 USD.

We were very eager to go for trekking where we would be able to bring elephants that had been released overnight so we appointed the driver at 12 a.m. Although it was about 4 ~ 5 hours drive, we talked much and high in the van – Myanmar’s IT infrastructure was the main topic. *cue serious coughing*. It was about 4 a.m. when we reached the camp. It was a pure forest!! And it was too dark that we even didn’t know where to go at the gate. A man came out and guided our driver where to park. We told them we wanted to go for trekking and they promised us that they would definitely inform us when it was time.

It was freaking cold when we got out of the van. We were even seeing our breath just like in Korean dramas. We followed an elephant trainer who would be looking for elephant under his guide. What disappointing was that his friends had already been in the forest since about 3 a.m. (Why didn’t you tell us earlier!?!) So we found the lil’ elephants quite quickly (I guess less than 1 hour) and didn’t have a chance to go further but it was fun enough! 😉

Trekking begins!

Trekking begins!

One elephant appeared.

One appeared.

And the baby elephant followed

And the baby followed.

Thanked god we went for trekking. Otherwise, we would have not felt warmer and would not be able to enjoy the trip. After a quick breakfast at a very tiny shop near-by, we had a chat with former manager of the forest. We had wanted to know when we could see the elephants and he explained us how the camp was being maintained.

After a quick breakfast at a very tiny nearby stall, we approached the current manager who was pretty young and asked when the elephants would have a shower. He told us that there would be two more groups of visitors so we should wait them to see it in a group. He hinted us that one of the group was a minister. We had no idea which minister he would be but I had felt annoyed since I had assumed all such people would require VIP treatment.

Unfortunately Fortunately, I was wrong! Although the whole family of that minister paid a visit there, nobody treated them specifically and they didn’t request it either. It shocked me in a way. I still remember how we had to prioritize such families back in 2003/4 when we visited Shwe Set Taw. That minister and her family were even quite friendly and invited us to join with them feeding elephants.

Before they came, the manager unlocked the souvenir shop for us. And amazingly those were pretty affordable! I bought a number of small elephant sculptures for my colleagues. It was fun choosing those and taking pictures inside that small shop.

We then watched the elephant bathing and show. The elephants were so playful and adorable that they sank their elephant masters to the water during bathing.

Time for a shower, kiddos.

Time for a shower, kiddos.

elephant show

Phant-walking? 🙂

elephant hand shake

Trunk-shaking!

Finally, it was time for elephant ride!! I had felt bad to ride elephant thinking they would feel heavy but as I didn’t want to miss the change, I did it! And yes, it was super fun. During elephant ride, we had a chat with elephant master. His salary was only around 94 USD which he mentioned not enough for the whole family. As not many people are visiting there, there is no chance for them to do side-businesses as well. I saw a number of kids thus I asked him if there was a school nearby and thank god, they have one!

And the ride.

And the ride.

elephant master family

Elephant masters’ families have to live in such places. The kid was watching as riding the elephant because he might think it was fun to see those people.

After about 40 minutes ride, we headed back to Taungoo to have our lunch, stopped by at a pagoda and finally returned to Yangon. Here are some tips if you think you are going to visit there.

  • Try to reach there as early as you can not to miss the chance for trekking. (It’s super fun, you won’t regret it.)
  • If you want to stay overnight, you may need to consider ordering food in advance as they will not have fancy lunch/dinner on the spot. (1 night stay is 50000 Ks (~62 USD) per night per wooden bungalow)
  • It’s way colder than in Yangon. Bring some warm clothes if you are not comfortable with coldness.
  • It’s 10000 Ks for local for elephant ride, elephant show, photo taking and all those stuffs. For same thing, it cost 60 USD for foreigners. I know it’s sort of expensive, you may try to haggle a bit. But they do not speak English well so my best advice is – try to make friends with some locals (who can speak English) and ask them to help you bargain. I helped a French couple! 😛

Have fun and good luck!