Marvellous Myanmar 2018
A personal note from Paul
This trip offers a good variety of interest, both as a visitor and photographer. There is a visible influence of Buddhism everywhere that we visit and we will visit several temples and pagodas, including the exceptional Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. We also plan to visit a monastery where we might be able to photograph the novice monks. I was taken by surprise by the scale of the temple complex at Bagan. It is a great experience to climb the outside of one of the larger temples and watch and photograph the landscape at both sunrise and sunset.
Anyone who, like me, loves messing around in small boats is going to enjoy Inle Lake. Every aspect of the life of the people who live on the lake is fascinating, including their stilted homes. We will visit a weaving community where the lotus plant is used – a rare product commanding much higher prices than silk. A photography highlight will be the Intha fishermen with their unique fishing techniques. We also go to the less visited region of Kayah, the homeland of Kayan (Padaung) tribe whose women wear traditional brass rings round their necks. One aspect of this trip is how little road travel there is, leading to a relaxed feeling, particularly when we are at Inle lake.
Day by Day
Here is an outline of the itinerary though Paul operates a flexible approach, trying to find the best photography opportunities and experiences as we go through the trip.
Day 1 / 5th Jan: Yangon Arrival
You will be welcomed at Yangon airport and transferred to our hotel. Our activity today will be determined by how much time the flight schedules allow us.
Day 2 / 6th Jan: Yangon
After breakfast, the journey today starts with a transfer to Pasadon Jetty, where we cross the Yangon River by local ferry. We reach Dala village, a striking contrast to Yangon with its limited urban development and village feel. Sit back and relax on our tour by trishaw. We observe the daily activities of locals and get a feel for rural lifestyle of Myanmar, including a visit to a market and candle making unit. We return to Yangon in the afternoon, A visit that will include photographing one of the world’s most spectacular monuments, the Shwedagon Pagoda, at sunset. The Shwedagon is an iconic symbol of the country.
Day 3,4,5 7th-9th Jan: Bagan
After breakfast, transfer to airport for the domestic flight to Bagan for a 3 night stay.
During our stay in Bagan there is plenty to fill our days. The temple landscape is a truly world-class location and our visit will include at least one dawn and one dusk photography shot for which we climb a couple of the larger pagodas for great elevated views. We will visit some of the larger temples and also attempt to visit a monastery to photograph the novice monks. We will visit the market at Nyaung U and cross the Irrawaddy River to the island of Kyun Thiri to visit local villages, away from the usual tourist locations.
Note: There is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a balloon ride above the temples at dawn. Certainly, £250+ for 45 minutes makes this an expensive option but if it is something that you dream of doing it needs to be booked well in advance of the trip so please contact Paul for further details.
Day 6 / 10th Jan: Bagan – Heho – Inle Lake
After breakfast, we transfer to airport for the domestic flight to Heho, a quiet town in the beautiful hills of Shan State. Paul hopes that we can visit the bustling main Heho Market, a meeting point for different ethnic groups of the surrounding areas to trade handmade goods and locally grown produce. En route to Inle Lake, we stop at a local family workshop to learn how Shan umbrellas and paper are made by traditional methods using fibres of mulberry trees. Next, we take a 1-hour drive to Inle Lake that descends through the valley with views of the Shan mountains and rice paddy fields. We can also visit the wooden Shwe Yan Pyay monastery that has the potential for great photograph of novice monks. Then we make our way across Inle Lake to our lakeside hotel.
Days 7, 8, 9 / 11th-13th Jan: Inle Lake
We have three nights in the north of the lake and one in the south. This is more than in a standard tour because Paul wants to maximise the photography opportunities of the unique lifestyle of the local people and also to allow some relaxation time on our “holiday”! We will spend a lot of time in small boats and will take the opportunities to photograph the distinctive Intha fishermen, working on the lake, and the life of the people living in the stilted villages. We follow the currents of a small river to reach the Inn Dain Pagoda. To access the complex, we walk through verdant bamboo groves that open up to a field covered with the ancient pagodas constructed over 1,000 years ago. We will visit the Inpawkhon weaving village to learn how local silks, linens and lotus fabrics are handmade and crafted. In large wooden buildings this offers the potential for strong photographs.
Day 10 / 14th Jan: Sagar to Loikaw Early breakfast at hotel and a one hour boat ride will take us to Phekhone, a small town situated on the shore of Mobye Dam. Then continue to Loikaw about 39 km south east of Phekhone by car about 1½ hours drive. The capital of Kayah State, the smallest and the least developed states of Myanmar; almost pristine in its physical condition, dotted with virgin jungles and wildlife in southeast Myanmar, bordering Mae Hong Son province of Thailand. Kayah is known for being the homeland of Kayan (Padaung) tribe whose women wear traditional brass rings round their necks. Kayah State seems to perch on the edge of southern Shan plateau with undulating mountain ranges; abounds with beautiful scenery, waterfalls and large caverns. In the evening, we can enjoy the panoramic view of Loikaw from Broken Mountain Pagoda (Taung KweTaung Zedi) at sunset.
Day 11 / 15th Jan: Loikaw, Demoso, Panpet, Seven Lakes, Angel Pond After breakfast, drive to Demoso, a provincial town to the west of Loikaw, to explore the local market filled with exotic goods and local people exchanging their wares. Then we will take a half an hour drive to Panpet, a village tract nestled among beautiful mountains and valleys. Here we will see Kayan people in their natural surrounding and share their daily activities during a short trek to their villages. On the way back to Loikaw, visit Angel Pond, regarded as sacred by Kayah people and Seven Lakes areas. We can then stroll around nearby Kayah villages and observe their activities and interact with them. Then return to Loikaw.
Day 12 / 16th Jan: Loikaw – Yangon – International departure After breakfast, transfer to airport for the domestic flight to Yangon. Upon arrival, transfer to Yangon international airport for your departure flight.
We generally will be eating in table service restaurants and therefore you will be able to order what you like form the menu, paying as we go. Expect Lunch £5-10, Dinner £10-20.
Price: £2390 (Single Supplement £490)
• All transfers as detailed with guides
• Entrance fees and permits for detailed excursions
• Accommodation as detailed or similar with breakfast
• Internal flights: Yangon-Bagan, Bagan-Heho, Loikaw-Yangon
• Photography guidance
• International flights
• Tips for guides or drivers (recommended £80)
• Personal expenses such as telephone calls, laundry, medical expenses, etc
• Travel Insurances
• Any meals or item not stated in the description above.
• Visa fees
Your Experience with Paul Sansome
Paul is one of the UK’s most successful fine art photographers, selling photography to hang on people’s walls since becoming a professional in 2003. Paul has been Highly Commended in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year and has several times featured in Landscape Photographer of the Year; it is very unusual for a photographer to be recognised in both genres.
For the past 10 years Paul has been leading 3 or 4 photography holidays each year to countries that include Italy, Morocco, Iceland, Vietnam and India. On the trips there is an emphasis on both having a great holiday and also on taking great photographs and improving the client’s photography skills. We visit locations specifically because they offer good photo opportunities and spend much longer at any given location than a normal tour because photography can often need that little bit of patience to get the perfect shot. Of course, we are travelling with a group that has the shared interest in both photography and travel.
In Myanmar, there is a good balance between landscape, people photography and the depiction of a foreign culture. Paul says, “Whilst my background has been in landscape and wildlife photography I have the strongest passion for capturing the character and lifestyle of the people”. There is group education at the beginning of the tour so that clients have an awareness of some creative and composition ideas as well as a strong technical grounding in how to get the best results. Paul is always available on location and the guidance given when alongside someone taking the photographs is probably the most instructive. During the holiday Paul will have at least one session of individual appraisal with each photographer to further help with composition and technical ideas. This session also allows Paul to demonstrate some basic photographic manipulation that is required to get the most out of each photograph.