A morning in Myanmar

During our trip to Chiang Rai one of the most exciting activities available is to walk into Burma, for a few hours only. Driving one hour from our resort in Chiang Saen (already one hour north of Chiang Rai), we arrive in the Mae Sai checkpoint where it is possible to cross the border and enter Myanmar at Tachileik.

This in the Shan State; Tachileik boasts 50000 inhabitants.

Crossing the border is allowed provided that you leave your passport at the border and pay a nominal fee. Overnight stay is not permitted and I read that guesthouses in the border areas of Myanmar are not allowed to host foreign tourists.

The area close to the checkpoint has a busy market where Thai and Chinese tourists like to shop, for cheap counterweight of handbags, watches and so on. We rode a tuck tuck outside of this area in a more rural side of the city with its food market.

Aside from the usual colorful street life, a nearby covered market, shows more food stalls.

But also some fashion shops; tailors, housewares,…

A few streets from there, a Buddhist monastery, hosts young and old monks who were having their lunch when we arrived. There we could witness the ceremonial of meals, who its first, who last who eats what is not eaten by the others.

The main attraction in Tachileik may well be the replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Situated on a small hill. There are a few tourist / devotee stalls outside and food stalls on the parking.

One of the food stalls around the pagoda.

I tried one of these sweet pancakes, delicious. Grilled for you on the spot on the ground of the parking.

Our guide was very knowledgeable or the area and spoke fluent Burmese which made the experience very enjoyable.

3 hours in Myanmar, a new Stamp on our passports, time to head back in Thailand.

All shots with Leica M262 and Summicron 28mmF2.

A morning in Myanmar

Chiang Saen – Thailand

So I finally shot the roll of Velvia 50 that has been sitting in the fridge for nearly two years. As around 20 SGD from the shop plus 13 for processing, this does not come cheap so I was waiting for an occasion to put it at good use. It made the trip to Chamonix last year but flew back to the fridge due to terrible weather in french alps.

I finally used it during the recent trip in Sunny Thailand. I used a Leica M6 classic and most of the pictures here are done with the Summicron 28mm. The film was shot at box speed.

Scanning the slides does probably not give them justice, I think that slides are better projected or printed in Cibachrome (who remembers this?) Here they look like nice digital shots, what they are at the end of the day. Scanned on the Epson v500, they look very close to what I can get out of the M262.

For people my age (50+), shooting travel on slides, reminds or the time where our dad or uncle keen on photography was bringing tons or slides from exotics places he visited and embark us for then boring evenings or projections (including oddly synched soundtracks)

Nowadays I the slides are shoot are mostly Rollei; they are more affordable. Both Rollei and Fuji have color casts one scanned, Fuji in the pink , Rollei on the yellow. On this set of late afternoon pictures in Chiang Saen, the cast is quite pleasant and I did not try to correct it too much.

The meter of the M6 (with new batteries) is doing a good job as only one slide of the roll was badly exposed. Counter-intuitively, slides who are notorious for being picky with exposure are better shot under exposed, the opposite to print film which likes to be a little over.

Chiang Sen, is situated in the most northern part f Thailand inside the Golden Triangle notorious for opium trafficking and more. Situated 1 hour from Chiang Rai and 5 hours drive from Chiang Mai, it is  nice city along the mekong where the 3 countries (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) meet.

I read once that in the 21st Century, slides are the only serious reason to still shoot film. This may not be totally true, but it is probably the type of film which competes the best with commonplace high end digital image.

Chiang Saen – Thailand

Old Burmese Lady smoking the cigar

Old Burmese Lady smoking the cigar

I’m a bit too straight sometime, or shy or whatever. In Bagan, you see old ladies hanging around with their cigars asking you to picture them for money. However low the amount (probably a couple of bucks) I have so far objected to picture people for money, let’s say the idea makes me feel uneasy. I don’t think I am mean or tight, just I don’t think an amateur picture is something that people have to sell you. Well so up to my third day in Bagan without any pictures of cigar smoker, on our last hour we met this woman in a village who invited us in her compound. We exchanged a few polite sentences stayed a bit and she pull our her cigar and I made this shot after asking permission. I did not want to move around and look impolite so the background is a bit burned.

Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikkor 50mmF1.8D
Retouches: Lightroom 3

Old Burmese Lady smoking the cigar

Young Nun in Bagan Market – Burma

Young nun
Young nun

The nuns are more shy that monks when it comes to be photographed, I was very happy when this one accepted in Bagan market that morning.
I like the 50mm which is so in-obtrusive and does not frighten your subject.

Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikkor 50mm F1.8 D
Retouches: Lightroom 3

Young Nun in Bagan Market – Burma

Michelangelo

Michelangelo

Back from a tour outside Mandalay we entered the town by some neighborhoods featuring artisans making different type of crafts. In one of the street were the marble Buddha sculptors. A whole street of them!
I could not resist to have the car pull on the side of the street and go out to take a couple of pictures. This portrait is a half miss but I still like it. This guy had a very special look, full of marble dust, with his mouth bright red with betel juice.

Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikkor 50mm F1.8 D
Retouches: Lightroom 3

Michelangelo