If you visit Inle Lake, in northern Myanmar, on your way from the airport in Heho to the village of Nyaung Shwe where you will likely board a longboat and head south for the villages and resorts on the Lake, you will pass a monastery. Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery. It is not large – you might even pass it without noticing. But if you stop, you will be rewarded with a 19th century monastery built entirely of teak, painted red, that today remains in full operation as school and home for young novice monks and their teachers. Photographers are drawn to it for its unique oval windows – and the incredible light found inside – and for the white stucco temple next to it with its red interior and thousands of niches, each holding a small Buddha. Add to this, young novice monks, cloaked in reds and oranges, and it is almost overwhelming.
The images here were taken in February 2011 and February 2012. On each visit, we were lucky to find the novices at their schoolwork – but oh so willing to be our models (even if, sometimes, it was impossible to get them to smile).
The rustic kitchen below, photographed in 2011, has been replaced by a modern white kitchen – not nearly as photogenic.
These last images were set up for us by Karl Grobl and his local guide, Mr MM – they get all the credit for such a beautiful setting and light.
Thanks for bearing with me through all the images – clearly, I had a hard time selecting my favorites for this post!
All the best,