The plane has just landed in Yangon. In two days time 6 people are going to join me on a photography tour to Myanmar. It is exciting. I love the country and have planned the trip with a trusted local agent. We’ve been working on it for almost a year but I’m still a little nervous. The driver who picks me up speaks English and tells me how busy he is with so many visitors. It is time to visit Myanmar as things are changing.
I check in to the chosen hotel where I will be staying for 4 nights. It isn’t the original one I had wanted to stay in but it’s fine. I breathe a sigh of relief as I am shown up to a ‘quiet’ room on the 4th floor. Tomorrow I am going to visit a couple of other hotels for the next Myanmar trip. It is mid afternoon and I waste no time in going to see the agent I use to organise my Myanmar Photography Tours.
Win greets me with a wide smile, sees my anxious face and tells me everything will be fine! He has even added small things to make our trip even better. Informs me of an upgraded hotel in Bagan and a new guide in Mandalay. ‘You will get even better photographs than the last time’ he assures me. On the way back to the hotel I can’t stop taking pictures, they’re snaps really of people drinking tea on the sidewalks, the hustle and bustle of downtown Yangon, such a photogenic city.
The next day I visit a couple of hotels, one is 5 star and I wonder if I could go more upmarket on the next trip and choose it, a haven of peace between the Shwedagon Pagoda and downtown. Win will have to negotiate the price!
The traffic back to my hotel is pretty dense. On arrival I receive a message. Two of my photography tour students have just arrived, a day ahead of time. I call their room and they come down. A charming Australian couple who are so excited and pleased to see me. It is their first trip to the area and they just flew in from Thailand.
It’s lunchtime and I take them to the Rangoon Tea House, which is an attractive restaurant on the 2nd floor of an ordinary looking building, albeit for westerners. They love the place and take out their cameras immediately! The Rangoon Tea House is a good place to try local dishes as spice wise, they do at least cater to the western palate. The place is pretty full and noisy but it’s after 2.00 so there was no wait. We discuss Myanmar, the trip, photography and cameras.
We take a walk where I know there is a monastery in the hope that we will see some young monks then go back to the hotel before we set off to see the sunset. I have two good sunset shots set up for the following two nights at the Irawaddy river and the Shwedagon Pagoda, so tonight we’ll go to Kandawgyi Lake. Just as we are about to leave a hot tired looking woman checks in and gives her name to the reception. She’s one of us! I recognise the name, say hi and never get to Kandawgyi Lake! I send the Australian couple off with a map and wish them good luck.
The next day the three remaining other people arrive and the photography tour officially begins. 12 days of extraordinary photography, laughter and companionship in this stunning, memorable land that I never tire of.