Burma (officially Myanmar) is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary countries of South East Asia.
The cultural isolation caused by a 60 year military regime makes the country a surreal place stuck in the past century. Recent political transition to a (partially open) democracy is now boosting tourism and foreign investments with Yangon quickly growing into a modern Asian capital city.
I have traveled from the remote north of the country through to the quiet and remote Indawgi Lake and made my way south to Mandalay and Bagan, only to head west to the magical and remote Mrauk-oo, in the Rakhine State.
Yangon is a quickly expanding Asian Capital. According to the Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT), as much as 35% of downtown Yangon was destroyed between 1990 and 2011 to make way for new development projects. That's about 1,800 buildings. (source: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31146066 )
A passenger on the train from Myitkyina in the Kachin State heading towards Mandalay
A train journey from Myitkyina to Mandalay. The railway network dates back to the early 1900's.
Indawgyi Lake is one of the largest inland lakes in South East Asia. It only receives a few dozen travellers per year, most of them birdwatchers.
While there are 13 villages built along the banks of Indawgyi lake, only one guest house currently exists for tourists.
Fishermen on the Indawgyi Lake. Contrary to the crowded Inle Lake, Indawgyi is not spoiled by hordes of tourists. With the impact of recent tourism this is bound to change in the near future.
Monks cutting a big palm tree into manageable firewood, as seen in a monastery in Nyanungbin, Indawgyi Lake.
Novice monks pose in Nyanungbin monastery.
The head monk plays a pop music video on his device in a remote Nyanungbin monastery. Mobile phones have only been made available to Burmese citizens in the past few years. Previously, a SIM card cost a whopping 2000 USD.
Cataracts cloud the eyes of this Burmese man, photographed at the Shwe Myitzu floating Pagoda, Indawgyi Lake.
Water buffalos bath in the mud on the bank of the Indawgyi Lake.
The Irrawaddy River near Katha.
A farmer walks his cows to water on the Irrawaddy River near Katha.
Loading cargo during a 19 hour boat ride on the Irrawaddy, from Katha to Mandalay.
Fishermen on the Irrawaddy River, the county's largest river and most important waterway.
A man-powered merry go round in Mandalay: the operator spins the carousel by hand.
Street food vendor in a night market in Mandalay downtown.
A sunset in Bagan, the valley of temples. Almost 2000 of the 10,000 Buddhist temples that were built in the valley between the 11th and 13th century are still standing. This makes Bagan one of the main tourist attractions in South East Asia.
The road to Mrauk U in Rhakine state: a 22 hour road trip from Bagan.
Portrait taken in a remote Chin village in Burma. Banned in the 1960s by the Burmese Government, the practice of tattooing girls' faces aimed to disguise their beauty and protect them from abductions by the king. Another theory states that the tattoos simply mark the belonging to a specific tribe.
Portrait taken in remote Chin village in Burma. Banned in the 1960s by the Burmese Government, the practice of tattooing girls' faces aimed to disguise their beauty and protect them from abductions by the king. Another theory states that the tattoos simply mark the belonging to a specific tribe.
Portrait taken in remote Chin village in Burma. Banned in the 1960s by the Burmese Government, the practice of tattooing girls' faces aimed to disguise their beauty and protect them from abductions by the king. Another theory states that the tattooes simply mark the belonging to a specific tribe.
A local Chin village school. The change of colour on the wall marks the level of water during the devastating 2015 floods.
A view of Mrauk U temples at sunset. Characterised by a distinctive architecture, Mrauk U temples are attracting increasing numbers of international travellers as well a local visitors from the nearby town of Sittwe.
A woman collects water for the house in Mraek-U, Rakhine state in Myanmar. Water must be collected twice a day at both dawn and dusk, to be used for drinking, cooking and tea.
After a scorching day in Mrauk U, I stumbled across this lovely scene. A father and son washing/cooling their horse after a hard days work.
Kids playing soccer in front of a temple in Mrauk U.
A Buddha statue sits in the shade of a big tree.
A Burmese girl wearing Thanakha; a paste made of ground bark, used by many Burmese females for both sun protection and makeup.
A novice monk collecting alms at the entrance of a temple in Mrauk U
Workers restoring Koe Thaung, the largest temple in Mrauk U, Myanmar. The name means "Temple of 90,000 Buddha Images". The temple was built between 1554 and 1556 by King Dikkha. It is most likely that Mrauk U will be developed as a tourist destination in the next few years.
Mrauk U, a kid playing on the pier.
A tailor at the Market in Mrauk U.
Tailors at work, Mrauk U market.
A monk is seen enjoying his daily meal in a temple in Mrauk U.
A temple at night in Mrauk U.
An albino nun poses for a photo.
Daily life in Mrauk U.
A rickshaw driver poses for a portrait during a break.
A monk in a temple in Mrauk U.
Bamboo trade. Bamboo sticks are tied together in a makeshift raft and sailed downstream for selling at the market.
Long distance buses are used across Burma for both passengers and cargo.