My strongest memory of Mandalay is of a dusty, smoky city that left me with itchy, watering eyes and a sore throat. It was here that I developed a cough that stayed with me pretty much for the rest of the trip, miraculously disappearing once I was home. Our guide Aung was quite concerned about my wellbeing and kept me supplied with lozenges. I was fine; the cough was annoying, but it didn’t develop into anything more serious and didn’t prevent me from fully participating in all our group’s activities. If you followed me on Instagram at the time, you may remember this self-portrait:
It was also in Mandalay that I was glad I’d brought my headlamp, which I used as a torch (handheld, rather than worn like a miner) when we walked through town in the evenings to get to and from restaurants for dinner – the roads and footpaths were in a dilapidated state, with jagged-edged holes and unexpected drops. The streets were not well lit at night and being able to see where I was stepping certainly saved me from a nasty fall or twisted ankle. The headlamp was one of the most useful items I took on my travels that year – if you read my post about going to Wyoming to photograph cowboys, you may remember how handy the headlamp was for navigating to/from my cabin in the dark to avoid stepping in fresh horse poo on the gravel trail.
I took the photos below at Zay Cho Market in Mandalay. Most of the time, the stallholders were well aware I was taking their photo (I’d smile and say hello) but were too shy or focused on business to look at the camera – which I think resulted in better shots anyway. A few times, I got grins and giggles – and if anyone objected, I wouldn’t take the picture. From a photographer’s perspective the main challenges here were avoiding getting jostled or photobombed by the bustling crowd while trying to get in the right position to compose/take pictures – while also avoiding getting run over by motorcycles, bicycles and the occasional truck.
I went on a photography tour in Myanmar in 2014. I did intend to post stories about the trip much sooner than I have – I’ve failed miserably.
- Hot air ballooning in Bagan
- Nunnery at Sagaing Hill
- Scenes from Zay Cho Market, Mandalay – this post
- Inle Lake
- The tour was with Cardinal Photo, led by our photographer guides David Cardinal and Ed Reinke. They’ve been going to Myanmar for over a decade and are very knowledgeable. We visited/stayed in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Pindaya and Inle Lake.
- Cardinal Photo organised this trip with local tour company Tour Mandalay. The tour cost was US$7,695 (including $300 earlybird discount) which included all transfers within Myanmar (we travelled in a private air-conditioned bus and via domestic flights), all meals (including local beer and wine), bottled water while out in the field, our excellent local guide and all park/temple entrance fees. I paid an additional $330 to go hot-air ballooning in Bagan and an extra $1800 single supplement (to have my own room; the base price is for double occupancy). Yes, I could’ve gone to Myanmar for a lot less, but the tour had all the logistics organised with photography as the priority, and took us to places I probably would not have accessed on my own. For me, it was well worth the expense.
- David was great with answering my various queries via email before I took the plunge and paid my deposit.
- Info on this year’s upcoming tour is online: Myanmar Photo Tour December 2016
- I flew to Myanmar via Singapore Airlines (Perth to Singapore) and then Silk Air (Singapore to Yangon).
My next trip
My next overseas trip is coming up in mid-November. Tell you more soon.