Old-school oil drilling

There's a village in Rakhine state where the villagers have been hand drilling for oil from the ground for generations.  The villagers told me that the British came during colonial times and found the oil but left it.  I read about similar accounts later: the oil is just not high enough quality to make a profit.  In this village the oil is running out and their tradition will disappear with it. 

Street Vendors

All across Asia, even though I grew up here and spent most of my life here, I'm always in awe at how much street vendors carry on their shoulders. Here's one in Yangon in the early morning.

The Mergui Island Life

As Myanmar sheds its military dictatorship and creaks open to the world, tourists are quickly flooding in. The opening up of our Southeast Asian neighbour means new adventures abound right next door. It won't be long before the Mergui islands become an exciting alternative to Koh Tao or Phi Phi. So when I was invited to join the soft opening of a cruise on a 85 ft (25 meters) classic double-plank teak yacht exploring the 400-kilometer stretch of islands, I didn't hesitate to accept.

During the seventeenth century, at the height of Thailand's territorial expansion, the Kingdom of Siam claimed the city of Mergui, the mainland gateway to the islands. Now called Myeik, it was a port and trading hub. Three hundred years later, Mergui town is less busy and the islands remain isolated. It is a place for travellers obsessed with being "off-the-beaten-path", "the first to set foot on" or "the only foreigner in sight."  

Here's a glimpse of the little life that exists on the islands-- mainly fisherman and sea gypsies, also called the Moken.

Central Railway Station

I love trains. So I stayed near Yangon Central Railway station this time and did a little photo essay.   A mini personal project I suppose. Yangon's Central Railway Station is the largest train station in Myanmar.  Built in the 1877 by the British, destroyed during World War II and rebuilt to its current incarnation in 1954. The trains are rickety, unreliable but there's a community of people who live at the station and their livelihoods depend on it.

Bertil Lintner, reported on Myanmar since the 80s

I met with him last month during my fellowship.  It was the first time he was able to get into the Myanmar with an official visa.  Lintner was pretty excited about his first Myanmar book launch happening that day.    

It wasn't long ago that he was on the country's blacklist for his writing.

More about that day here:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/groundtruth-burma/blacklisted-journalist-bertil-lintner-returns-burma

Bertil Lintner

Bertil Lintner

Shwemawdaw Paya, Bago

Found this brave little girl at a temple carnival in front of Shwemadawdaw Paya in Bago. She didn't even flinch when the carny men wrapped the python around her.

Bago, Myanmar.

Bago, Myanmar.

Tri-shaws in Dalah, amazing...

Tri-shaws are still a big part of life here in Yangon. Regular bicycles are fit with seats facing away from one another and an extra wheel. I've seen families of five fit on to one of these.

Tri-shaws in Dalah, across the Yangon river from Yangon.

Tri-shaws in Dalah, across the Yangon river from Yangon.