Continuing on from October’s travels around Myanmar, it was time to leave Yangon and explore other parts of the country. We chose Inle Lake in the central region as our next stop, but before making the 12 hour bus journey up there, we had to first venture to the bus station on the fringes of Yangon, which almost felt like it was two or three towns away, but an interesting (read chaotic) place nonetheless. Upon arriving, and finding the correct bus, it was clear that we wouldn’t forget which one it was, being covered with giant smurfs and all…

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

After a pre-dawn arrival, and subsequent few more hours of sleep at the hotel, we got up and headed down to the boat port, and out to explore the lake for the day. At just about twenty dollars for a full day out, it seemed like a fair enough deal to us…

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Though we started out with these beautiful blue skies, it wasn’t long before the rain set in, soaking and stranding us at a floating restaurant for a bit, but it soon cleared up and we were back out on the move.

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

The fisherman on the lake have a very unique way of rowing with one leg as they balance on the end of the boat. This guy I guess decided to take it a step further for a photo opportunity, and pulled a pretty nice acrobatic maneuver.

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

As Myanmar becomes (or has already become) a tourist hotspot, locals are quickly entering the game as well. Our driver stopped at quite a few places which I would call tourist traps, selling nice locally made, yet seemingly overpriced goods, but I  paid not much attention to that, instead focusing on the people and their craft. Above, a blacksmith shop, and below, a woman weaves the thread from lotus plants, which I actually did not know was possible previously. You learn something new everyday!

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Novice monks tend to a bit of gardening on the shores of the lake. This is an image I really like from this trip, though admittedly, a lucky capture as our boat quickly passed them by.

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Making one of the last stops of the day, I saw this boy lounging on the front a boat. For some reason, it reminds me a lot of Huckleberry Finn.

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Back on dry land the following morning, we took a long walk a little out of town to visit a monastery, famous for it’s circular windows. An elder monk crosses the front as he returns from a shower.

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Inside the monastery, a large group of men and women gathered for some sort of meeting. In Myanmar, monasteries are a very central part of the community, and tend to become the favored gathering places. They wore what looked like towels on their heads, but after seeing them a few other places as well, I figured out it was part of their traditional dress, though a few men re-purposed them for a pillow instead during a few minutes of snooze time.

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

On the way back, we found a group of young men and boys playing and bathing in a small canal that feeds into the lake.

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

In the courtyard of another monastery, young monks play football just after a heavy rain.

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

Resting in the hotel room for a few minutes, I began to hear loud music and commotion outside. I looked out the window and saw this procession going by, quickly put on a shirt, grabbed my camera and ran out to follow them. It was part of an elephant festival, that I had heard about happening in another city, but I guess this was the local celebration of it. Men pushed a cart with musical instruments behind a dancing elephant, and locals would come out to give their offerings.

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

I guess it was a popular time for festivals, as the following morning began another Buddhist festival on the lake itself. A seemingly endless procession of long boats, paddled by more than fifty people each, made their way around the lake to different villages each day, beginning here on the first day at In Daing village. Though we had to leave later this evening, the festival was to continue on for several more days, and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see the part I really wanted to see, when these boats would work together to pull massive golden dragon boat around the lake.

 (Quinn Ryan Mattingly)

And as a final parting shot, another of my favorite images from this leg of travel through Burma…

Bonus shots of more boats that didn’t really have a story to tell, but I still like them anyway…

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