Making Paper

Pindaya is well known for making decorative paper and umbrellas.

To make the paper, mulberry bark is first soaked for a day or so and then boiled for about eight hours. Then the process of pounding the fibres to a pulp begins. Mashing the boiled fibers is a long process of rhythmically pounding with two mallets.

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When the pulp is soft enough, it’s rubbed into a small bowl of water and swished to mix.

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A rectangular wooden frame with a stretched cotton base is placed into a bath of water. When the pulp in the bowl is liquid enough, it’s  poured into the water. A good swishing spreads the pulp evenly in the water across the cotton base.

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After the pulp has settled, petals and leaves are added to decorate the paper.

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After a minute or two of settling, the frame is lifted from the water bath and put into the sun to dry.

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The finished paper is then lifted from the cotton backing.

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Up next: Umbrellas

Pindaya Caves

The Pindaya Caves date back to the late 1700’s and consist of many chambers filled with approximately 8,000 Buddha statues. Visitors can walk up steep covered pathways to get to the entrance or use a more modern method (car and elevator) to get to the top.

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Steep covered pathways to entrance.

The Archer and Spider outside the caves represent the legend of a giant spider that captured seven princesses and imprisoned them in one of the caves. A prince from Inle Lake bravely battled the spider and shot it with a single deadly arrow.

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The Archer and the Spider.
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Entering the caves.

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Erich and Debra admiring Buddhas.

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Up next: Making paper and umbrellas.

Balloons Over Bagan 3

After flying over the ruins, pilots landed the balloons on a sand bar just beyond a line of trees.

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Balloons landing next to the Ayeyarwady River.

Chris informed us that our balloon was too far north and that we’d have to land on the other side of the Ayeyarwady River.

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Flying over the Ayeyarwady River.
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Chris planning our landing.

After landing on an island across the river, a crew retrieved our group and took us by boat to catch our bus.

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The crew disassembled the balloon while we enjoyed champagne and fruit on the boat.

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Erich and John.
Erich and John.

We saw a “chicken courier” loading his motorcycle when we got off the boat. Seeing this made me think briefly about becoming vegetarian.imageimageBalloon flight certificate. image

Next up: Pindaya and Kalaw.

 

 

Balloons Over Bagan 1

I’ve never had the desire to ride in a hot air balloon and originally said no to the Ballons Over Bagan option during the planning of our trip. Debra and John opted out as well. Our travel agent highly recommended it so we reconsidered and signed on…….and I’m so glad we did!

We were picked up before sunrise at our hotel and taken to the launch site in a really cool refurbished antique bus.

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John ready to roll at o-dark-thirty.

After arriving at the launch site, we were briefed on passenger safety and then watched the crews inflate the balloons.imageimageSurprisingly to me, the baskets held seventeen people (16 passengers plus the pilot). Below, our pilot (Chris) blasts the burners and we climbed aboard soon after.imageAnd we’re off……imageThe flight was very peaceful and quiet, with the exception of occasional blasts from the burners.imageimageimageUp next: Flying over the stupas and pagodas.

Bagan Lacquerware Workshop

Myanmar has been producing lacquerware for over four century’s. Bagan became the industry’s hub in the 20th century, and in the 1920’s the British founded a lacquerware school in the city to foster the craft.

The lacquerware shop we visited had items for sale on the lower level. The second floor had about 15 people working on various pieces that would eventually end up for sale downstairs.

The first 2 photos below are panoramas of the 2nd floor. Workers can be seen engaged in various stages of lacquerware production.imageimage

The process of making lacquerware includes weaving of bamboo (like in the photo below), molding and drying of lacquer putty, engraving, and polishing. A small bowl can take a few months to complete while a large object with elaborate designs can take up to a year to finish.

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Lacquerware goes up in price based on the finer the detail and the more colors and layers of lacquer applied to the piece (15 coats is the norm for a quality item).

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Erich did some serious negotiating for the goods I wanted. He was so proud of himself that he had me take a picture of him and the salesgirl.

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Next up: Balloons over Bagan.

Dhala part 3

During our trishaw ride in Dhala we made stops to visit a few local businesses. The spring roll wrapper shop had two young men making the wrappers and two women doing the packaging.

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Our next stop was at a candle factory.

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This boy and cat were resting near the factory entrance.

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On our way back to the ferry, our guide (Lily) noticed a wedding celebration taking place and arranged for us to check it out. We met the newlyweds and were then invited inside. He is 28 and she is 16.

Just married.
Just married.

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Erich liked the drink we were offered. It was made with milk so I spared myself the digestive agony and did not partake.

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Dhala part 2

Boarded the ferry and ready to take on the day!

Debra, Erich, Paige, and John ready to take on the day.
Debra, Erich, Paige, and John.
Boy selling cracker type food to feed the seagulls.
Boy selling crackers to feed the seagulls.

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As the ferry filled up, people cruised back and forth hawking their goods.

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Approaching the dock.
Approaching the dock.

Watching the passengers exit was entertaining. People were offloading a variety of items. In the second photo below notice the guy with a cart of chickens.

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imageUpon reaching Dhala we traveled by local trishaw (hybrid tricycle and rickshaw) through town. Dhala is very different from Yangon and has many trees, local neighborhoods, and quiet side streets.

Photo with our trishaw drivers.
Photo with our trishaw drivers.
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Riding past some cows next to the path.

John talked his driver into trading places.

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More on the next post: Dahla part 3

Dhala part 1

On our last day in Yangon we took the ferry across the Yangon River to Dhala. Before leaving the hotel to catch the ferry, our guide Lily applied thanaka paste to our faces. The paste is made by grinding the bark of the thanaka tree on a flat, smooth stone with water. The milky yellow liquid dries quickly once it’s applied. Thanaka is valued as a sunscreen and as a beauty product. In rural areas men and women apply it on their arms, legs and faces to prevent sunburn and sun damage. Urban female office workers who spend less time in the sun wear thanaka for its beauty and cosmetic purposes.

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Lily grinding thanaka to make the paste

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Wet thanaka selfie.

We walked past a street market on our way to the ferry.image

Quail eggs.
Quail eggs.
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No clue what this is.
Ferry waiting area.
Ferry waiting area.

I was in awe of this boy reading to other children in the ferry waiting area. They were engaged in the story and not running around. I kept thinking I’d never see this in the U.S.A.

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imageThe ferry arrived and the passengers were  ready to depart.

More on the next post: Dhala 2.

Yangon

Our Yangon hotel, The Belmond Governor’s Residence dates back to the 1920’s and at one time was the home to the president of Myanmar’s southern states.

The Myanmar hotels and customer service exceeded my expectations. The people we interacted with throughout the country were friendly and quite mellow. Buddhism in action!

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Pool.
The Pool.
Dining area overlooks the pool.
Dining area overlooks the pool.

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Breakfast offerings:

Egg station.
Egg station.
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Variety of meats and cheeses.

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Juices.
Juices in the bar.

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