The Beautiful Burmese: Portraits of Bagan Locals, Myanmar

In my previous travels I've enjoyed taking photos of beautiful scenery, quaint streets, mundane details of everyday local life, even marine life, but I've always felt lacking in my skills when it comes to taking photographs of people. I always attempt to take photos of the interesting individuals I chance upon when I'm on the road and have posted about my efforts once or twice, but I've always felt that I could be better at it. So before my recent trip to Myanmar, I told myself that I would make a conscious effort to take photos of the interesting individuals I would meet in my exploration of mystical Bagan.

I couldn't have chosen a better country to take on this personal challenge. The people of Myanmar are lovely - simple, sincere, and friendly, they are a joy to photograph. In the dusty orange-brown landscape of Bagan, the locals' bright and warm smiles stand out with their thousand-old Buddhist temples in the background. Monks in their red robes, men confidently adorning their longyi (it takes a real man to wear a skirt), women with thanaka on their cheeks and flowers in their hair, and children with smiles in their eyes. Below are a my personal favorites of the photos I took of the beautiful Burmese people, with a little bit of a story in each of them.


I didn't know what she was praying for, but she seemed so earnest in her prayer, not paying any attention to the flock of tourists and locals going around the temple, that it was almost heartbreaking.

We met him atop the first temple we visited while we caught our first sunrise in Bagan. He made sculptures and paintings with sand.

Maybe I caught her at a bad time.

He sat by the entrance of one of the temples and seemed to want to know what we thought of it as we were stepping out.

I guess I'm a little relieved we weren't the only one who tried to avoid the nearly unbearable heat.

I practice a different religion but we share a common belief in the power of prayer.

She sold us jade bracelets that her family made and confessed she thought we were Burmese, too, until she heard us talk.

I wish I had asked what the Burmese name for "sampaguita" is.

She taught and helped us put on thanaka.

He was taking part in the restoration work of Ananda Temple's ancient frescos and paintings.

This is perhaps my favorite photograph. She stood just outside the temple entrance and was watching us curiously when I noticed her pretty face and beautiful dress. She didn't shy away when I gestured to my camera, asking without words if I could take her picture.

Imagine growing up among ancient temples and forging life-long friendships.

I liked the simple beauty of the flowers in her hair.

She sold me postcards so I could write to Tiff, and said I was pretty. But then again, she probably says that to everybody.

One collected foreign currency and the other had a photo of a Korean pop star in his wallet. 

We met them on our way back from viewing the sunrise on our second day. They gamely posed for a photo.

This is a bonus,and I really wish I had taken a better photo of the moment. We had just gotten on our horse cart when we came across this young monk teetering under the weight of the alms he had collected, adorably so. But a ride on the horse cart is rather bumpy especially if you're not accustomed to it yet, and I couldn't properly focus my camera on the boy as we rode past him.

Travel Tip: Burma is currently experiencing an influx of travelers and the country's tourism industry is still catching up to the sudden demand for travel services. Book your accommodations in advance to ensure you have a place to stay. Try HostelWorld for great deals and prices.  


Two2Travel said...

Lovely photos! Love that one with the girl looking straight into the camera. :) ~nikka

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

Thank you Nikka! That's one of my favorite photos too. :)

RON | said...

beautiful photos! you captured the fun loving people of bagan!

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

Thanks Ron! The Burmese are fun-loving, happy people :)

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

It seems like there has been a Pinoy bloggers meet in Myanmar. hehe!
Great photos!

resident_nutty said...

Weeee, love the photos Daene! Why didn't you post the picture of that kid in Shwedagon?

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

The Nomadic Pinoy: Yes, I saw a lot of pictures of the PTB contingent in Myanmar! I think we missed it by a few days / weeks though. Sayang!

Thanks for the kind words! :)

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

Thank you Mabs! I might do a separate post for Yangon. :) Mag-post ka na rin! Although I know you're working on the video pa. I'm so excited to see it! Haha! :)

Wends of Journeys and Travels said...

These are amazing photos and I am set to go Burma this December, will definitely take a good grasp of what I am seeing here.

Thanks for the inspiration. :)

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

Thank you Wends! December would be a great time to visit Burma as it isn't so hot around that time, or so I've heard. Enjoy! :)

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