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Visiting Shwe Kyin
I still have tons of pictures to share from my Myanmar trip. The morning after our Shwedagong Pagoda shoot, we headed out to a small town in the Bago Division, called Shwe Kyin. It doesn't show up on Google Maps, but its supposed to be a 4-5 hour drive south east from Yangon. While this town is accessible to natives, it is currently forbidden to foreigners. We had to get special permission to even drive into the city, let alone take pictures and we would be arriving for the Thadingyut Light Festival, which includes boat shows, dancing, races, and concludes with fireworks and candle boats placed on the water.
We rented a van and 2 drivers, and one of Paul's friends, who served as a guide in the past decided to join us.
Despite leaving around 5am, I could not fall asleep and kept my eyes locked on the road. I took pictures of everything I could, but sometimes we were just moving too fast.
We stopped at a local market, which I was always fascinated to watch. Waiters would literally SCREAM ordered across the restaurant so cooks could hear.
Paul both advised me "Be really careful about what you eat, we can't really afford either one of us getting sick, If you sense that its ok to eat it, you will probably be ok. If something really grosses you out, don't try." The next thing I know Jack is pulling out this huge ice chest of "normal" food including sandwiches and orange juice.
"I don't want you guys getting sick." A mentioned as he unpacked everything. Jack was amazing, he was one of the most prepared people I had ever met. He usually even packed clean silverware and cups for us to use.
Once we arrived to the Shwe Kyin bridge, the military guard said that we were not allowed entry, but once Jack showed him our permission, he called his supervisor and who confirmed and let us in. Almost immediately after crossing the bridge, we were met by the local secret police, who were all dressed in White Shirts and spoke on walkie-talkies. Most of them were also chewing a red type of root or bean which turned their mouths deep red.
Here they are on a boat, which I took later that day.
These pictures were taken on the main street shortly after we arrived....
The town issued us these Blue Ribbons that designated us as guests and we were quickly taken to the festivities where the boats shows were going on. Essentially the way it worked was different sets of guests set up by the river, and the boats would stop at each and perform either a dance or skit. Each group would vote on which one they liked the most and at the end of the night one of the teams would be announced as the winner.
Almost immediately I broke off from the main group, wanting to just take pictures of people, and introduce the inhabitants of this very small town to the world. About 2-3 minutes after I started shooting, the police asked me to stop. I think there was some apprehension on the publics' part because here I was walking around taking pictures of them and their children and they just weren't used to it. There were several occasions where people were so shocked that they almost fell over. Realizing I was in a foreign country, I had to respect their rules, so I stopped shooting, but once Jack found out, he cleared things up and I was allowed to shoot again. Here are my most favorite shots from that afternoon of shooting.
This boy was terrified of me. You will notice he isnt wearing shoes... even out there in the jungle. While most people wore flip flops I did see this often.
Good picture of Jack. He speaks 6 languages and I consider him a good friend now. Excellent host. He really had everything planned well.
These guys are squeezing the juice out of sugar cane. From what I hear its pretty much guaranteed that you will get sick if you drink the resulting concoction.
Typical home near the river...in Shwe Kyin. Extremely humble people...
So after this shoot, we had a few hours to rest, but I knew that later on we would be getting on a boat again for fireworks and the lighting of the candle boats. I wanted a higher perspective...much higher....I wanted a sky cam. I still sell the adapter construction guide for hooking up a camera on a cleaning pole, but we were limited on supplies.
This is my 5Dii + 16-35 2.8 strapped on a long piece of Bamboo. I used an RC-1 Remote to trigger the timer. After a few tests, I know it would work.