Golden Land
Lens Magazine|November 2020
Thanaka Color Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a mystical country centered among Southeast Asia's more common destinations, yet still remaining relatively unknown. After many years of isolation, Myanmar has only recently opened up to the outside world. The magnificent land is also known as the Golden Land.

Myanmar provides many unique photographic opportunities that are drawing photographers from across the globe. This country is fascinated with over a hundred different ethnics groups and is bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand and one of the largest in South East Asia. It is the most religious Buddhist country in terms of the proportion of monks in the population and proportion of income spent on religion.

Thanaka is a traditional powder derived from the bark of certain trees growing in Myanmar's Central regions. People grind the tree bark against a flat and wet circular smooth stone, then put the paste onto the face, mainly the cheeks, for skincare purposes. The Thanaka paste has slightly yellowish color with a little silky texture and tree bark's pleasant smell. You can see that Thanaka has been applied on many of the faces of Burmese people.

Two years ago, I had the chance to embark on a 14-day expedition along the Irrawaddy River on the RV Pandaw ll in Yangon, also called Rangoon, and ended my journey in Mandalay. An old school in the early 30s-designed ship inspired by Myanmar's incredible history, one will be drawn to the detailing and architecture of the colonial ships.

It was definitely a unique experience to be on the Irrawaddy river and to gain incredible insights. We were always on the move, experiencing a new place and its offerings each day. I loved the shore excursions into the smaller villages where we observed clay pot making and some other traditional economic activity. The people were so incredibly friendly, inclusive, and were enthusiastic about interacting with us.

The Scenery

We soaked in every part of the country, from mountains to villages and temples – the journey was spectacular and relaxing, providing me with opportunities to explore a country with a strong culture.

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