My Myanmar

How much do we hear about Myanmar these days? Or Italy, or anywhere else for that matter, other than the dominant news from the USA?  Since the demise of Berlusconi, we rarely hear about Italy, unless there’s an earthquake. National disasters, terrorist activities, real or imagined, and narcissistic world leaders with toxic tendencies tend to dominate our mainstream media. We are adrift in a polluted sea of fake news.

Buddhist temple, Myanmar
Buddhist temple under a stormy sky, Myanmar

Against all odds, in 2015, a peaceful election was held in Myanmar, enabling a remarkable transition from a military led dictatorship to an emerging democracy. There is still a long way to go, not that any one cares much, when the eyes of the world are so focussed on the golden-haired beast. I’d rather contemplate these golden temples.

My Myanmar, a thousand golden pagodas
My Myanmar, a thousand golden pagodas
More moody temples, Myanmar
More moody temples, Myanmar

For those who take part in the Wordpress weekly photo challenges, the prompts now occur on Wednesday. This week’s challenge is Against All Odds.

The Road to Indigo

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Fabric speaks to me. I collect it, stash it, feel it. Antique European linens, worn Irish cloth, functional and timeless, faded Ikat from Java, Sumatra and Flores, woven wall hangings from Myanmar, mid-century Japanese Kimono sprinkled with shibori, or little fabric offcuts featuring sacred cranes, plush velvet Italian betrothal bedspreads, alive with colour and kitsch cherubin, or hand worked pillow cases and curtains from the antique market in Arezzo in Italy, embroidered table cloths, ancient filet crochet edging with worked in stories, words or historical events, crocheted jug covers featuring Dolly-Varden shells and beaded weights, Indian silk saris and long dupatta scarves, visiting every floor of a Sari shop in India: fabric hunting is a central part of my journey. It is often the history of women’s work, or a window into a culture, or one that is about to become obsolete, that appeals so much.

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Hand dyed indigo fabric is a recent addition to my textile addiction. I discovered some wonderful indigo fabrics at the Chatuchak ( Cha-Cha) Market in Bangkok in 2013. The following year, I toured an indigo factory in Dali, on the banks of Erhai Lake, Yunnan, China. And this year, I found another small producer of hand died indigo clothing on the banks of the Mekong River, in Chiang Khan, Thailand, as well as some lovely long lengths of deep indigo died linen in the back streets of the Warorot market, in Chiang Mai.

My next step is to learn this ancient art and dye my own cloth. I envisage drifts of indigo muslin, irregular in colour, floating in the summer breeze.Thanks Ailsa for this week’s travel theme, Fabric, at Where’s My Backpack. If I dug out all the representatives of my fabric collection, this post might fill a book.

Intricate. Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

The intricacy of design throughout the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar is breathtaking. A little stain glass panel caught my eye amidst the vast labyrinth of this glorious golden building.1-1-myanmar 455

In response to The Daily Post prompt, Intricate.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/intricate/”>Intricate</a&gt;

 

Orange is the colour of Myanmar

Orange has long been associated with Buddhism throughout Asia, where saffron robes adorn young Buddhist monks, orange flags and sashes decorate temples and golden pagodas turn orange in the setting sun.

These Buddha were hiding inside one of the dark interiors of a temple in Bagan, Myanmar.

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Travel Theme: Industry in Myanmar

Pre- industrial  forms of industry  continue in rural areas of Myanmar. Step back in time and watch these oxen tread the same path, day in day out, as they turn these ancient cogs to extract peanut oil from the nuts.

Working Bullock in small peanut oil industry, Myanmar
A bullock works to extract peanut oil  Myanmar

At this point, you may be feeling some pity for the poor oxen. No need. These oxen are very well fed and are rewarded for their work.

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Notice the eye of the beast. He knows that his twenty minute shift is nearly up. He watches the build up of peanut butter, a waste product and one that he will shortly enjoy. A break and a rest, a peanut butter snack, and it’s back to work.

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The photos below show the young men scraping away the peanut butter. The photo that is missing, but the one you can imagine, is the now still beast, his long tongue swinging and salivating in anticipation.

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Below is the other shift worker, resting and waiting for his turn.  Peanuts are a major crop grown in Myanmar and peanut oil, freshly pressed in this manner, would be a prized oil indeed.

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Sunday Stills. Yellow

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School holiday time and my house and kitchen have been turned upside down by the invading tribe of wild things. The ten year old wants to work outside all day as he is saving for a motorbike,( but its raining), the seven year old goes through ten costume changes a day and the five year old tries to keep up with her, the three year old likes to play outside in the rain. My table is covered with art materials, there are balls and blankets in the lounge room, chaos has descended.

Here is my escape into the world of yellow as part of the Sunday Stills challenge: Yellow

Marigolds above and sunflowers below in the gardens of Chenonceau, France.Image

A yellow painted vegetable stall in West Java, IndonesiaImage

A doorway in Bagan, Myanmar

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A fruit platter on board a houseboat in the backwaters of Alleppey, Kerala, India

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Travel Theme: Statues

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I am always drawn to Buddhist temples when travelling in Asia.The busy temples along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok, or the quiet Lanna style temples in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The colourful temples, with attached monastery schools for young boys, in Luang Prabang, Laos and the small Buddhist temples dotted throughout the Islamic towns of Java. I attempt to visit them all .

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These Statues of Buddha are a few from my Buddha files. They were all taken in Myanmar ( Burma), where the Buddhist Pagodas outdo all others in scale and opulence.

Ailsa’s ‘Where’s My Backpack‘ hosts a weekly travel themed blog every Friday. Check out some of the others.

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Travel Theme: Pink

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Trawling through my digital shoebox, I tried to ignore subjects and focus on the colour pink.  It’s an interesting exercise to sub- categorise by colour and one I would highly recommend.  After exporting my pink images to their own file, Mr Tranquillo was consulted about pinkness. He saw red where I saw pink – the maroon of  the monks’ robes. He saw brown where I saw pink-  the terracotta temples of Bagan, Myanmar (Burma). The eye sees colour in so many different ways. Tints, hues and complexions of pink fade into beige,mauve and orange. Here are my pink offerings for Ailsa’s Where’s My Back Pack weekly theme.  Taken in Myanmar ( Burma), a country that is usually associated with gold.

A pink terracotta building in Bagan, Myanmar. Built between 11th and 13th centuries,  2,200 brick temples like this one remain. It takes days to tour this area.

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Temples of Bagan at sunset.Image

The pink lit rooves of the monasteries surrounding the Shwesandaw Pagoda in Paya. Paya, around nine hours by car from Yangon, is a small town on the Ayeyarwady river.Image

A pink umbrella on a rainy day at the golden Schwedagon Pagoda, Yangon.

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Young monks leaving the temple grounds.

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