Monthly Archives

March 2016

Asia Myanmar

Post 2 Street-life, Rangoon (Yangon), Burma, (Myanmar)

Street life and people of Rangoon Burma pictures b(2)Rangoon People & Place

Burma, when I think of Burma it is in its historical context and its recent and long closure to the outside world.

Burma colonised by the British in 1886 was only fully freed in 1948 from both Japanese and British occupation and rule. What should have presented a golden opportunity under the leadership of Aung Sang quickly turned to a period of chaos and uncertainty with his assassination, followed by ten years of unsteady rule, culminating in military takeover over and dictatorship which lasts even to this present day. Slowly this situation is changing with the release from house arrest of the figurehead for democracy and freedom from military dictatorship and oppression, Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

Rangoon formerly the capital of Burma is today a melting pot of peoples and cultures, all joined together in this chaotic, colorful, busy city, and seemingly living peacefully side by side. It is also a city of great neglect and poverty. It has the look of a crumbling worn out place that is slowly falling to the ground. That’s still part of it charm for the visitor but chain for the indigenous population. It is fast opening up to visitors and overseas investment is starting to flow into the city and the country. Perhaps in time these pictures will form a small part of a record of a city and people on the cusp of change. Unusually many looked straight into the cameras lenses with a mixture of question but also curiosity. For a country closed to the outside world the sudden influx of visitors must surely seem strange. How long I wonder before it feels like an intrusion. Continue Reading

Asia Myanmar

Post 1 Hindu Festival, Rangoon (Yangon), Burma, (Myanmar)

Rangoon Burma

Burma, when I think of Burma it is in its historical context and its recent and long closure to the outside world.

Burma colonised by the British in 1886 was only fully freed in 1948 from both Japanese and British occupation and rule. What should have presented a golden opportunity under the leadership of Aung Sang quickly turned to a period of chaos and uncertainty with his assassination, followed by ten years of unsteady rule, culminating in military takeover over and dictatorship which lasts even to this present day. Slowly this situation is changing with the release from house arrest of the figurehead for democracy and freedom from military dictatorship and oppression, Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

Rangoon formerly the capital of Burma is today a melting pot of peoples and cultures, all joined together in this chaotic, colorful, busy city, and seemingly living peacefully side by side. It is also a city of great neglect and poverty. It has the look of a crumbling worn out place that is slowly falling to the ground. That’s still part of it charm for the visitor but chain for the indigenous population. It is fast opening up to visitors and overseas investment is starting to flow into the city and the country. Perhaps in time these pictures will form a small part of a record of a city and people on the cusp of change. Unusually many looked straight into the cameras lenses with a mixture of question but also curiosity. For a country closed to the outside world the sudden influx of visitors must surely seem strange. How long I wonder before it feels like an intrusion.

Whilst wandering around the city one morning I chanced upon a Hindu festival so the pictures of this form the first part of the post.  Part 2 is a picture essay of the people and place as it goes about its daily and bustling business. Part 3 is a few pictures from the famous indoor market and 3 a couple of pictures of the fading facade of the city.

Rangoon Hindu Festival 2015

Rangoon, Burma, Hindu Festival 2015 pictures by Da(25)

Rangoon, Burma, Hindu Festival 2015 pictures by Da(5)

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Asia Thailand

3 day Hill Tribe Trek Northern Thailand (Day 3)

Day 3

Hill Tribe Trek Northern Thailand

Back on the river.

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae Tang Riverby David Keegan 2015 (38)

Boatman makes seats for us on the raft as today’s journey will involve traversing some rapids, so its safer to sit. Indeed he fell in a couple of times during our trip downriver. Fortunately his only injury was a little dented pride. I wish i had written down, or could remember, his name as he was a wonderful character.

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae(25)

Local men busy building rafts

Asia Thailand

3 day Hill Tribe Trek Northern Thailand (Day 2)

Day 2 Trekking

 Our trek begins after breakfast through spectacular scenery to another Karen village higher up in the mountains. Although the start is cool it quickly heats up. That  and the altitude means thinner air, so slightly harder going.

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae Tang Riverby David Keegan 2015 (67) Day 2 Trekking

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae Tang Riverby David Keegan 2015 (66) Day 2 Trekking

Clear blue sky and spectacular views of the mountains and rain-forest.

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae Tang Riverby David Keegan 2015 (75) Day 2 Trekking

Terraced fields in the valley below

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae Tang Riverby David Keegan 2015 (69) Day 2 Trekking

Tamarind seeds pods, Tamarind tree.

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae Tang Riverby David Keegan 2015 (71) Day 2 Trekking

Termite mound, a regular feature of the rain-forest floor.

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae Tang Riverby David Keegan 2015 (72) Day 2 Trekking

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae Tang Riverby David Keegan 2015 (73) Day 2 Trekking

Sunlight and shade deep within the canopy of the forest.

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae Tang Riverby David Keegan 2015 (62) Day 2 Trekking

Stag horn ferns are another regular feature in the trees.

We reach our 2nd Karen tribe village

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Bamboo rafting on Mae Tang Riverby David Keegan 2015 (59) Day 2 Trekking

Cockerels are another regular sight some with fabulous plumage and colour.

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Asia Thailand

3 day Hill Tribe Trek Northern Thailand (Day 1)

Gone Trekking With Goo Trekking
3 day Hill Tribe Trek, Northern Thailand.

I made all the arrangements for the trek well in advance of leaving the UK and after much searching and research sent an email request to a Mr Chan. His response to the email was both prompt and friendly. I explained in my email that we didn’t want to visit any elephant farms or sanctuary’s believing the whole enterprise to be exploitative of these wonderful creatures. He wrote back and assured us he could arrange a tour without the need to visit an elephant place. All excellent apart from minor alarm at an email received, whilst still in Vietnam, from MR Chan days before our due arrival in Chiang Mai asking if we would not mind sharing the trek with about 4 to 6 other people. Given that i had always made clear i wanted a private trek, and was paying the extra for that, i was not best pleased. However MR Chan responded quickly saying private trek was not a problem. What id didn’t know until we met in my hotel the night before scheduled trek he would not be taking us but one of his colleagues Mr Goo would instead take us. I was on the verge of cancelling when Mr Goo turned up, he seemed a nice man with good knowledge of the hills and tribes. Little did I know this turned out to be the best possible outcome. Mr Goo, WOW, couldn’t have asked for a nicer more hospitable human being. Also helped greatly that he had spent some 20 years as a forest ranger meaning he had a great knowledge base of plants, animals and insects encountered on the trek. He also spoke 6 languages and could communicate with local tribe’s people in their native tongue.

The trek turned out to be one of the highlights of my many years of travelling. Goo also prepared all our meals and is an excellent cook!!! One day i will return to hopefully do a trek from Chiang Rai to Chaing Mai with Mr Goo, in the meantime some pictures from the recent trek.

Day 1

 

Chiang Mai market place Northern Thailand by David Keegan 2015 (69)

Chiang Mai market place Northern Thailand by David Keegan 2015 (70) Day 1 trek

Chiang Mai market place Northern Thailand by David Keegan 2015 (71) Day 1 trek

 Deep fried insects, think its grasshopper. We saw many types of bugs and insect deep fried. Eaten as a snack they are pretty much the equivalent of the Western fondness for crisps.

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Trek Shan, Karen and_(26) Day 1 Trek

Waterfall one of the first stops after the long drive from the market.

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Asia Thailand

Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai

Having stayed in Bankok on a couple of previous visits to Thailand i felt it was time to try a different city, so headed north. Given its location at the foothills of the mountains it also presented the perfect opportunity to do a bit of trekking and the chance to visit some hill tribes and do some home-stays. Good decision. Chaing Mai couldn’t be more different than the ever frenetic  and noisy city that is Bangkok. This city has an altogether more laid back atmosphere. It is somewhere i would gladly revisit, whereas for me personally i will, if at all possible, avoid Bangkok. The people here are a lot more relaxed and you don’t get the feeling they are trying to rip you off.

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Wats temples and sights by David Keegan 2015 (73)

The Silver Ubosoth

 An Ubosoth, which is basically a place of ordination for monks. Women are not allowed to enter the ordination hall. The silver work is quite simply breathtaking in its breath, scope, and skill. The Ubosoth is located within the grounds of Wat Srisupan with the original Wat dating back to the early 1500’s

Chiang Mai Northern Thailand Wats temples and sights by David Keegan 2015 (75)

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Ninh Binh Vietnam

Ninh Binh, Tam Coc, Northern Vietnam Post 4 “Round & About Ninh Binh”

Picture post from Tam Coc, Ninh Binh Province Vietnam taken  January 2015

UNESCO World heritage site Tam Coc, Limestone outcrops proper name Karst  description,  Karst: a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks including limestone, dolomite and gypsum. Characterised by sinkholes, caves, and underground drainage systems.

The last in this 4 part post this one is a series focusing on Landscapes people as they go about their daily lives in and around around Tam Coc in the Ninh Binh  province of northern Vietnam. Often described as Ha-long Bay on land, in fact most of the limestone karsts rise up out crystal clear waters of the small local lakes and a meandering  2 kilometer stretch of the Ngo Dong river. I have spent 3 nights on a Halong Bay tour in 2013 and this was a very different experience but both worthwhile for different reasons. At the time of year we visited the the air hangs in a misty eerie adding to its magical ambiance. The town of Ninh Binh itself is of no great interest with little to see ort do so recommend you do as we did and stay in a shack by the side of one of the limestone karsts overlooking a small lake, magical. Nguyen Shack run by a Canadian and his Vietnamese wife its a wonderful place to stay, click this link for their homepage  Nguyen Shack

People & Landscape Ninh Binh 

Pictuure post Ninh Binh Vietnam by David Keegan 2015 (31)

The people of Ninh Binh Vietnam a photographic essay by David Keegan 2015 (1)

The people of Ninh Binh Vietnam a photographic essay by David Keegan 2015 (4)

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Ninh Binh Vietnam

Ninh Binh, Tam Coc, Northern Vietnam Post 3 “The Tofu Maker”

Picture post from Tam Coc, Ninh Binh Province Vietnam taken  January 2015

Post  1 to3 in this series from Ninh Binh province in  Vietnam features the lives and work of some of the local people from the small garment factory, to the cottage industry tofu maker, to the block maker and the couple building a house from this local block. Unfortunately any of the limestone outcrop not listed as part of the UNESCO world heritage site is slowly being blown up, pulled down, ground to a powder and finally turned into bricks with a lifespan of only 15 years.  The Tofu maker is one of my favorite picture posts as it offers a glimpse into the process from ground bean to finished block of Tofu. This is hard and hot work carried out a t a relentless pace but offers nonetheless a good living for the family All offering a unique glimpse of some of the local industry and people behind it. Meanwhile in the garment factory conditions here are better than most and better than sweatshops around Asia but long days, sometimes 7 in a row when busy with order deadlines, are spent to earn a living.

The Tofu Maker

The Tofu maker Ninh Binh Vietnam a photgrapic essay by David Keegan 2015 (2)

The Tofu maker Ninh Binh Vietnam a photgrapic essay by David Keegan 2015 (15)

The Tofu maker Ninh Binh Vietnam a photgrapic essay by David Keegan 2015 (7)

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