2nd of July 2009 (Thu), 13:32
I am going to Burma in mid of october. My trip is about 2weeks and planned destination is Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan.
I like to hear all tips and hints for photography and travelling in burma. I am still a bit confusing how i carry my stuffs, what i really needs and so on..
All comments are more than welcome ;-)
22nd of July 2009 (Wed), 22:12
Hey, looks like not many people have been to Burma!
I was there for a couple of weeks two years ago, and really enjoyed it (minus knowing about the government, and them keeping tabs on you at all times - and lack of ability to talk openly to ppl about some stuff).
I was just getting into photog, so a beginner at the time here's some pics - places and ideas for you:
We also went to Lake Inle, as well as the other three on your list - highly feasable too if you're into it. One of my favourite spots, we checked out the lake and floating gardens for a couple of days, and did a trek for 3 days, staying in small minority people villages. It was fantastic. Bagan was also pretty amazing, but you absolutely must get to one of the larger temples on the plain for sunset, and sunrise, every day that you're there. My favourite time of day (we were there in 40degC April) even if it meant getting up at 4am, and cycling 40min out to the temples in the dark through the potholes. And don't just leave when the sun rises, the lighting was the best after the hoards left. We hired bicycles, and cycled around to all of the temples over 3 days, you can hire a guide/horse and cart, but I like to be left to my own devices. Swedagon Paya - Yangon, big temple complex was awesome. Aim for a whole day, starting at opening time, and after sunset - it's all lit up.
Infrustructure-wise, the roads, except the Yangon-Mandalay main-route - are absolutely terrible. Single-lane (one lane for two directions of traffic, not one lane each), barely any bitumen, but enough to make it really bumpy. To pass, cars have to slow down from 30km/hr to 5km/hr, and drive around each other, then get back on the road. You don't get anywhere fast, but public buses are frequent, and a great way to meet the locals, who are lovely. I actually really enjoyed sitting in the back with the local girls - men were on the roof sometimes.
Photography - you won't have a problem taking pics of people, but be nice, and ask, they don't mind. Camera gear, safety etc - this is a country where the govt is....you will be safer here than most other places on the planet if you...behave. Not so much technology, be self-sufficient, govt doesn't like internet, but it's around. If you have a laptop and portable hard drive, take that, and make backups off your CF cards. Don't rely on being able to burn to CD or DVD, or being able to buy more CF cards. There's power ....but very frequent and long black outs. Eg. frequent 5-10 hr black outs, even at night in Yangon. Take a spare camera battery.
Lenses - I was just getting into it - took 100mm macro, and 17-40 on a 400D. I used the 100mm for everything - people, scenery. No tripod, but wished I had - take yours, spec for the sunrises and sets at Bagan. If you can, take all 3 lenses, your 135 will be fantastic for people, 100-400 great for sunrise-sets at bagan, and wide for scenery, temples/palace in Mandalay. I'm not a flash person, up to you.
Check what the weather will be like, take clothes accordingly - I think monsoon will be just over if you're lucky, or maybe not, so waterproof your bags (plastic garbage bag on inside). Bagan is hot, dry, Mandalay, Yangon is warm, not dry, Lake Inle is cooler. Take some good walking shoes!
2nd of August 2009 (Sun), 16:17
I was there for a few weeks a couple years ago....First and foremost, I would advise AGAINST bringing a laptop. When I was there, I was told by both gov't officials and travelers who had bad experiences, that you should not bring a laptop, or the gov't will assume you are a journalist and you will "qualify for immediate deportation or worse." So I bought an Epson p-5000, however with the price of memory cards these days....just buy a few 16gb cards and leave as much extra bulk at home as possible.
Mandalay and the surrounding towns were by far my favorite areas of Burma. Inle lake seemed way too touristy, and often felt like I was at a human zoo (seeing the "longnecks", etc.) however I do recommend the jumping cats Monastery.
Check my website (eyeballimaging.com) and look at the burma entries to see more, and feel free to send me a PM with any questions you may have.
Best of luck and have a blast. In my yearlong tour of South and SE Asia, Burma and India were my 2 favorite countries by far.
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