Waiting from more passengers.  Crossing the border from Ranong, Thailand to Kawthoung, Myanmar.
Myanmar immigration checkpoint island.
Myanmar Immigration
The crowd of moto-taxi drivers trying to get customers in Kawthoung.
Kawthoung Taxi Drivers
The town from my hotel window.  Across the water you can see Thailand.
Went to a monastery named Pyi Taw Aye Paya.
Novice Monks
Also at Pyi Taw Aye Paya, a graphic, illustrated vision of hell.  I think the Buddhists got the other religions beat when it comes to a creatively gruesome vision of hell.  Had lots of interesting talks with people about the stark differences between Buddhism as a Philosophy as opposed to the religion (which are often contradictory).
Cute kid who was making use of the pristine, wet tiles of the temple -- running, sliding on her knees, and having a great time!  Didn't see any adults around.
Also known as "Cape Bayinnaung", Victoria point is the most southern tip of Myanmar.
Victoria Point
A cool little monument depicting a father handing a sword to his son as he explains the past / future struggles of the Myanmar people. In the past were wars with English, Japanese, etc, but today, the economic war will be fought with crude oil, gems and farming.
Father Son
Kids enjoying the rain.
Mud Football
4:00 AM I was in the Kawthoung harbor, eating breakfast and preparing to board a boat north to Myeik.  Beh Tamin (rice and tangy, dry lentils) was for breakfast.
Kawthoung Harbor
A sign in Myeik.
Myeik Towards A New Modern and Developed Nation
Just a guy watching me eat my coconut water, banana desert.
Trishaw Driver
A friendly woman who convinced me to try her "Hand Mixed" Mauldee noodle salad -- super tasty!  had bits of fried garlic, something like cilantro, pepper, salt, lime, chilies, tomatoes, and some mystery ingredients.  Afterwards, she refused to let me pay.  People in Myanmar often got a big kick out of the fact that I was vegetarian.
First of many stunning gold stupas I would see.
Theindawgyi Paya
Myeik pier, waiting for my boat north to Dawei.  These girls noticed me from really far away and clearly got a kick out of being photographed.
Girls Boat
Boats floating every direction carrying people and cargo.
Myeik Harbor
Arrived in Dawei late and the government officials were waiting with a small dossier on me.  Got a bus to one of the hotels (Dawei isn't directly on the water), and the next morning took a walk through the misty streets.
Dawei Women
Another tasty noodle (khao soi) salad!
Many nuns, dressed in pink making their way through the streets of Dawei.  Horse-drawn carts are still a common way to get around in many parts of the country.
Buddhist Nun
 You see these "Minimalist" cars all over Asia -- just an engine with a steering wheel (often no brakes).  What's funny is you often see guys just (like this one) having the time of their life as they plow through the streets!
The end of Buddhist Lent, everyone in town lights candles in their doorways.  Nice time to walk around.
Well, I was determined to get to the north over land / water... but after an exhaustive search, talks with immigration, attempted bribery, etc, I finally gave up in Dawei when it became clear that I would be arrested if I went north by any means other than airplane.  Went the remaining 600 KM by private carrier (surprisingly nice!) so the corrupt military government wouldn't get my money.
Dawei Airport
The lively streets of Yangon near Sule Pagoda.
Yagon Street
In such a closed country, there is no McDonald's, Starbucks, 7-11 or other western chains.  Didn't even see a Coke till my last day there.  But, these deprived people were doing their best to taste the American Dream.
Mac Burger
People get about a gallon a week, but the black market is always there to help you out -- for a price.  Speaking of the Black Market -- that was the only way to change money into Kyat (the local currency).  There are no ATMs / credit card machines, and you can't change travelers checks because "Official" Exchange rate is about 1 / 200th the real (aka black market) exchange rate!  (Yes that's right, the government fantasizes that the money is worth 200X more than anyone will pay!).
Petrol Rationing
The massive Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.  Covered in gold plates... I was surprised this much gold existed in the whole world!
Shwedagon Paya
Not sure exactly what this signified, but I liked it.
Another shot from the top of the temple.
Shwedagon Paya
I met Nan Diya and another monk (Tin Win) at the Shwedagon Paya.  Was surprised to find out that TinWin was studying computer graphics.  We made a plan to meet the next day.
Nan Diya
I ended up doing some impromptu web design training with Tin Win, he was so excited and learned very quickly.  Also attended an English class with both monks and spent the afternoon helping the students with conversation.  Everyone was so excited to have a native English speaker in the class!  I must have had the same conversion with 20 young men about where I was from, what I did, what they were studying, etc.  -- but it was a great experience.
Tin Win
From Yangon, went east to Kyaiktiyo (the famous Golden Rock temple).  This was taken on the road going there.
Road To Kyaiktiyo
I stayed at Kinpun, near the base of the hills on which the temple stands.  This is a girl who sold me some bananas.  You can see the playful use of thanaka face cream / makeup.  Thanaka is a normal part of the beauty routine in Myanmar, its a paste made from powdered wood (similar to sandalwood).  Sometimes men / women make designs like this, but usually it is applied in simple streaks.
Kinpun Banana
The famous "Golden Rock".  Legends abound, apparently you can take a thread, wrap it around the rock and pull it underneath -- meaning its not actually touching the earth, but floating!  I meditated by the rock in the "Men Only" meditation area just to make the ladies jealous.
Kyaiktiyo Golden Rock
A number of large, mysterious bugs were dead at the temple.  This one looked like a cartoon character to me.
Coming back from The Rock, I took the pilgrims trail - 12 miles to Kinpun.  Along the way got to see some great, tiny villages, play with kids, have a tea, etc.
Kyaiktiyo Pilgrims Trail
The view of the valley as I walked back.
Kyaiktiyo Valley
Some curious kids and their mother.
From Kyaiktiyo, I went back to Yangon, then got a very long bus ride north-west to Bagan Archaeological Zone -- the greatest concentration of in Myanmar and probably the world.
Bagan Sunset
I stayed in a town called Nyang U and spent several days riding a bike between a handful of the 2000 temples in the area.  In this shot, there was a lightning storm overhead.
Bagan Shwezigon
I don't know much about the history of these places, but had a great time climbing around, taking pics, exploring the temples, etc.
Shwe Leik Too
Shwe Leik Too Buddha
Need I say it again? There were a lot of temples.
A new re-construction of one of the royal palaces.
Shwe Gugyi
Shwe Gugyi
A nice guy who showed me some obscure temples, focusing on the more "fun" and deserted ones.  We had lunch at his house near Old Bagan.
Dhamma Yan Gyi Pahto
Workers napping after lunch.
Dhamma Yan Gyi Pahto
Not sure why a guitar was there.
Dhamma Yan Gyi Pahto
Just taking the bikes down these dirt paths between the temples.
Shwe Nan Yin Taw
Shwe Nan Yin Taw
Probably the most impressive, gold-covered temple was Ananda.
Ananda Temple
Had 4 different standing Buddhas similar to this one.  Were pretty awe inspiring.
Ananda Buddha
Tza gaw na
Tayok pyi Paya
Met this guy in Mandalay (10 hours north-east of Bagan).  We had tea.  I was trying to figure out what he was selling, seemed to be small piles of rice husks.  He said "I Merchant", then brushed away some rice so I could see the blocks of ice.  It was so hot!  A difficult business without an ice box!
Mandalay Ice Merchant
This says it all.
be kind to animals by not eating them
The Hindus were celebrating the Divali festival there in Mandalay.  Had many man-powered carnival rides.
Divali carnival
One of several men that would do these death-defying acrobatics to get the ferris wheel turning (and to stop the thing!).
Divali carnival hanging man
Slices of sugar cane on the ends of sticks, sold like a bouquet of flowers.
Sugar cane
The coolest carnival game!  You "shoot" rubber bands (just like elementary school) at posters of pop-stars in order to win small packets of laundry detergent!
Rubber Band Game
Went north-east from Mandalay to Pyin U Lwin, then got a train another 10 hours to Hsipaw.  Villagers came out to sell their wares whenever the train stopped.
Radish Train
Hsipaw was beautiful!  Took many walks around the surrounding villages / fields / hills.
Hsipaw Field
Went along the train tracks a while, just waving at people, talking with whoever happened by.  One guy was chopping up melon and gave me a slice over the fence.
Hsipaw Train tracks
Locals bathing at sunset.
Hsipaw river sunset
Had a great hike out to this waterfall!  Beautiful valley dotted with huts and banana trees.  Really nice day.
Hsipaw Nam Touk Waterfall
A field of flowers along the way.
Bee Flower
View back towards Hsipaw from the Nam Touk waterfall.
This was great -- a farmer was plowing the field nearby -- guess this random poster on a tree kept him motivated?
Farmers Motivation
Water Buffalo
Hsipaw Field
Walked to this Shan village nearby.  Most of the people up here don't speak Bamar (or don't want to for political reasons).  Shan actually call themselves Tai and speak a language almost identical to Thai.  This family was rolling cigars and invited me to just hang out.  I had picked up a few words of the local language and had a great afternoon just chillin there, eating oranges, showing them pictures, etc).
Shan Villaga
Back to Mandalay.  I liked the "Road Warrior" public buses!  Someone claimed they were left from colonial times.
Mandalay Bus 3
Did a bit of biking around town.
Mandalay Bike Lane
Stumbled upon this place while riding around.  Apparently has the worlds biggest book -- carved on 1774 marble slabs.
Sandamani Paya
A monk that was walking by as I was trying to get the next photo.  He wanted me to take a picture so I obliged, but it came out pretty nice!
Mandalay Palace Monk
Big Brother is watching.
Bureau of special investigation
I feel bad, forgot this guy's name but still wanted to include him.  Seemed that wherever I went, he just showed up.   Suspected he might be a government informer because I caught him a couple times "guessing" things that I never told him.  But I liked him and we had some interesting conversations.
Yangon guy
Uh... quite a bit different than the 1-story, crusty old Yangon Airport!
Bangkok Airport
My second Loy Kratong in Thailand (last time was in Pai 2 years earlier).  Locals light candles and put them on little floats which are released in the river for good luck.
Loy kratong