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April 2016

Asia Myanmar

The Fishermen of Inle Lake, Burma

Fishermen of Inle Lake (post 4 of 7)

Inle, or Intha, is the second largest lake in Myanmar It is listed in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, being added to the list in 2015.  The lake is also home to over twenty species of snails and nine species of fish that are unique to the lake, not being found anywhere else in the world.  Local fishermen are known for practicing a distinctive rowing style which involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. This unique style evolved as the lake is being covered by reeds and floating plants made it difficult to see above them while sitting. Standing provides the rower with a view beyond the reeds.  It is also now one of the major tourist draws on the Lake.  A number of fishermen have taken to exploiting this by hanging around the entrance to the lake posing for dollars rather than actually fishing. This has given the fishermen and the lakes a bad name with some and is in danger of destroying the authenticity of the lakes in general. Travel further into the lakes and you can witness fishermen fishing in this traditional style for real and without the request for dollars. Yopu will also witness another popular techniques requring the fishermen to work in teams. This involves one hitting/slapping the water  the water and therby driving the fish into nets held by the others. Whatever the technique there is a grace and poise to these mens movements as they go about their fishing. All of my featured pictures in this blog post were taken without payment, and are of fishermen genuinely going about their business of fishing. The best time of the year to visit is during September and October

 

The Fishermen of Inle Lake, Burma by David Keegan 2015 (1)

The Fishermen of Inle Lake, Burma by David Keegan 2015 (2)

The Fishermen of Inle Lake, Burma by David Keegan 2015 (3)

The Fishermen of Inle Lake, Burma by David Keegan 2015 (4)

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Asia Myanmar

Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake, Burma

Leaving Rangoon for Nyaung Shwe

Leaving Yangon on an overnight bus we begin the long and arduous journey to Inle Lake. We travel on the VIP express bus (JJ Express) which has a seat configuration of what is known as 2+1, basically means 3 seats to a line, so much bigger seats and a lot more comfortable than a standard bus. I bought tickets for this in advance from ticket agent in Rangoon and all went without hitch. They were very communicative and professional in their dealings. You can find them at this linkhttp://myanmarbusticket.com/   The bus station itself is a good hour’s taxi ride outside the center of Rangoon but can take a lot longer depending on time of day and traffic. If you need a driver in Rangoon then I can heartily recommend a chap called San a wonderful chap with a winning smile great local knowledge and very reliable. I only have his email address but I found him very responsive via email:  rememberme116@gmail.com

The bus station, a noisy, crowded, chaotic and hectic place in itself. As for the bus journey I would love to be able to say this is a great way to travel, and it might well be if it wasn’t for the bus operator’s insistence on having the air con turned to artic cold conditions. I seriously mean it’s so cold even the provided blanket will struggle to keep you warm, moral of the story if you intend to catch the bus bring warm clothes. But hey it’s a lot cheaper than the overpriced internal flights, and given the travel is overnight means you are not wasting a day on travel. Our destination for discovering Inle Lake will be Nyaung Shwe where we will stay for our 5 day stay in Inle. We stayed in Princess Garden Hotel which cannot be booked online,  but you can book directly via email. princessgardenhotel@gmail.com

To read more about this place check out the reviews on trip advisor

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g303662-d1896917-Reviews-Princess_Garden_Hotel-Nyaungshwe_Shan_State.html#REVIEWS

The only other downside of the bus is arriving in Nyaung Shwe at 5 am in the morning meaning a 6 hour wait before we could check in as all the chalets were fully booked

 

Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake (post 3 of 7).

Pictures post 1 (3) Nyaung Shwe, Burma By David Keegan

Bustling main street

Pictures post 1 (1) Nyaung Shwe, Burma By David Keegan

If you are taking a boat trip on the lake (of course you are, otherwise why are you here) you will most likely board at one of these jetty’s but this is also a working lake as the picture shows so you will most likely share it with locals as they go about their daily business.

 

The Market

The market moves to a different location every week, being held in Nyaung Shwe once a month. If you are fortunate enough to be in town for market day its well worth a visit and is the perfect opportunity to mingle with the locals as they do their shopping.

Pictures post 1 (2) Nyaung Shwe, Burma By David Keegan

Pictures post 1 (5) Nyaung Shwe, Burma By David Keegan

The Tea Seller

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Asia Myanmar

Inle Lake Burma, The Floating Gardens.

Floating Gardens, Inle Lake (post 2 of 7).

Inle Lake Burma The Floating Gardens (1) By David Keegan

Father and son with boat full of weeds collected from the bottom of the lake which will be used to form part of their floating garden. These gardens are not only spectacular they are truly amazing in their ingenuity. No visit to Inle lake would be complete without a trip to see the floating gardens. Most hotels and guest houses can arrange, or help to find, a suitable boat trip. Top tip go as early as possible in the morning to avoid the midday crowds!

Inle Lake Burma The Floating Gardens (2) By David Keegan

Inle Lake Burma The Floating Gardens (3) By David Keegan

Inle Lake Burma The Floating Gardens (4) By David Keegan

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Asia Myanmar

Life on the Lakes, Inle Lake, Myanmar in Pictures and a few words.

The people and place Inle Lake Myanmar (Part 1 of 7)

Inle Lake shimmering in the early morning sunlight like some precious ghostly jewel. It is a place like no other with its crystal clear and icy calm waters, it fishermen, along with its many lake side towns, pagodas and stupas. I have read some really inane comments on Trip Advisor, some suggesting that Inle is nothing special and is just like many other lakes around the world, the other that the one legged fishermen don’t really fish that way anymore and its now a tourist gimmick. Well they are both wrong. This is not Disneyland, or a circus, its magical place that was closed to the outside world for many many years. Yes there are those who will perform for the tourist dollar, but the fishermen of Inle still fish in the traditional manner, you just have to venture onto the lake proper early in the morning to see them and not just stop at the mouth of the lake. Life is very much lived on and around the lake with its floating gardens, fishermen and the continuous too and fro of boats carrying an array of cargo and people .This is one on the most magical and unique landscapes on earth so  if you are going to travel half way around the globe to see it use a bit of common sense, do some research to get the most from your trip. Chances are you will only ever visit this place once in a lifetime so give it the attention, time and respect it deserves and you will be richly rewarded. I would put it at the top of my top five places i have visited in the world, in fact it is most out of this world, glowing as it does in another worldly silvery light. Enjoy and go soon as i cannot imagine it will stay as untainted by the outside world for much longer now that Myanmar is opening up to the outside world. How long before the big hotels spoil the whole place?

Inle Lake Burma Life along the lakes by David Keegan 2015 (3)

Inle Lake Burma Life along the lakes by David Keegan 2015 (4)

Inle Lake Burma Life along the lakes by David Keegan 2015 (6)

Inle Lake Burma Life along the lakes by David Keegan 2015 (7)

Inle Lake Burma Life along the lakes by David Keegan 2015 (8)

Inle Lake Burma Life along the lakes by David Keegan 2015 (9)

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UK

Manchester City Center Old Town, Whitworth Street Conservation Area.

Manchester Whitworth Street and Manchester Canal in Pictures

On a rare sunny day a different Manchester appears as it shakes off its cliched gloom and reveals itself in warm shadows that make it feel somehow different, basking in tones of a more continental glow.

This area of Manchester is now known as the Whitworth Street Conservation Area. Below are a few pictures captured along Whitworth Street and the towpath by the canal.

The Old Town Manchester City by David Keegan (1)

The Old Town Manchester City by David Keegan (2)

This section of Whitworth Street was apparently designed to create what is known in architectural terms as the Canyon effect and i think this picture very clearly demonstrates that.

The Old Town Manchester City by David Keegan (3)

There was a time when the erection of a new building was something to be marked in time as a moment of pride. I fear most of the current round of development in Manchester City Center will leave little other than a sour taste in the years to come. Most may well end up demolished as it is not only of poor aesthetic consideration, but equally of poor construction.

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France

Postcard from Paris

A Picture Postcard diary from Paris

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A view of the sweeping staircase The Louvre Museum Paris

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A view of the older part of the Louvre photographed through the glass panel of the Pyramid

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Reflections in a mirror this was a construct for a Dior fashion show

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National Trust UK in Pictures

Biddulph Grange Gardens National Trust UK

Picture diary of a visit to National Trust Biddulph Grange Gardens Staffordshire

I have visited Biddulph gardens a couple of times now over the past year and it remains one of my favorite and inspiring gardens in the UK. One can only wonder at the the adventurous and daring ingenuity of James Bateman in imagining the construct of this complex arrangement of rooms and expressions in landscape, all the more so give that the gardens are not merely confined to those contained, but venture far beyond into imagined Himalayan walkways, a boating lake, caves, tunnels, bridges and rivers. Playful, yet serious in execution, surely the most ambitious and accomplished of its kind anywhere in the world.

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National Trust UK in Pictures

Little Moreton Hall, National Trust UK,

Picture diary of a visit to  National Trust Little Moreton Hall.

Visit to another National Trust property on what turned out to be a spectacular, and quintessential English summers day. A fascinating moated  wobbly Tudor building that twists, shakes, and undulates with age, but somehow stays up. No garden here, apart from a very small Knot garden to the rear of the house, but still definitely worth a visit for all those interested in architecture. Personally i love the geometric nature of the lead work in the windows. I also love the exposed peg joints in the timber work. Also some beautifully naive and simple carving figures and detail to external courtyard area timber frame, pictures below. A truly remarkable historic building.
There is also a very good restaurant in the building where we had a good set lunch for a reasonable price.
National Trust UK in Pictures

Bodnant National Trust Gardens Wales in Pictures

The National Trust Garden Bodnant in Wales

Quite possible my favorite National Trust gardens  in the UK. Below is a small picture diary essay.

Founded in 1874 then gardens were developed by five generations of one family, it was gifted to the care of the National Trust in 1949. The garden spans 80 acres of hillside and includes formal Italianate Terraces, informal Shrub Borders stocked with plants from around the world. For anyone with any passion for gardens and plants this is at the very least a bucket-list must see!!

View to the former stable along the River Hiraethlyn in the Dell.

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Iris

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Emergent foliage Rhododendron

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