Past Travels
Travel Pictures


Rangoon (Yangon)

Until March 2006 capital of Burma, the new capital Naypyidaw is about 320 km away in the centre of the country. Seems like the regime wants to keep distance to the people. Naypyidaw is an artificial town with approximately 100.000 habitants, lots of them are government workers who were forced to leave Rangoon. Rangoon has about 5 million habitants and many important religious sites. Outstanding is the famous Shwedagon Pagoda.

View of Sule Pagoda


The famous Shwedagon Pagoda

Smaller pagodas on the Shwedagon compound


Mandalay also has many temples worth visiting, especially Mahamuni Pagoda. Inside, the Buddha statue has been covered with tons of layers of gold leaves which were brought by local people. Another interesting spot are the pagodas below and on Mandalay hill. Mandalay is also home of  the Moustache Brothers, a political comedy group striving for democracy. They are not allowed to perform in public and local people are not allowed to visit their home performance. Two of the members, Par Par Lay and Lu Maw were arrested during the protests against the regime in September/October 2007 but have been released since then. Par Par Lay and the third “brother” Lu Zaw were arrested on 4 January 1996 after they had visited Aung San Suu Kyi at her home in Rangoon during celebrations of Burma’s independence day, making jokes about the regime. The next seven years they spent in prison.

The Moustache Brothers

Together with Aung San Suu Kyi

Par Par Lay

One of many temples in Mandalay

The entrance to Mandalay Hill

View from Mandalay Hill

Mandalay harbour area

Ubein, Mingun, Sagaing

Ubein bridge is a 1.2 km and 200 years old teak wood bridge leading through swamp land. It is close to Mandalay and can easily be reached by bike. The atmosphere is very nice and quiet

A boat from Mandalay harbour travels along the opposite shore, passing fishing villages. After 11 km Mingun Pagoda appears, which was built from 1790 until 1819 but only one third had been finished by then. When King Bodawpaya died it was decided not to go on. An earthquake in 1838 demolished the pagoda which would have raised to 150 meters, had it been finished.

Close to Mandalay, Sagaing was the capital of an independent Shan kingdom in the 14th century. Nowadays Sagaing and Sagaing hill is covered with dozens of monasteries. When I went there I hired a rikshaw at the road junction and asked the driver to take me to the guesthouse of my choice. When he told me that an abbot was one of his friends and that he would certainly welcome me as his guest, I decided to go to the monastery with him. The abbot and his two novices were very delighted to receive a foreign visitor. I was invited to stay for the night and since they were so overwhelmingly friendly, I accepted. The evening we spent together and I tought them some English, which was especially fun for the novices because now the abbot was no longer teacher but a student as themselves.

The next day my rikshaw driver picked me up early in the morning in order to avoid paying entrance fees at the pagodas. The fact is this: the money goes exclusively to the government. Instead of paying them, it is encouraged to save the money and put it into the donation boxes inside the pagoda. 

He told me his story: the government had forced him out of his home because they intended to build a bridge. He was given a piece of barren land and some money to build a new house. The money he got however, was by far not enough to buy wood for a little house for himself and his family. He had to spend all his savings in addition, and his dream to buy a small car and become a taxi driver was further away than ever.

Ubein countryside

Ubein Bridge

fishing village in a sandstorm

Mingun Pagoda

The giant Mingun Bell

Inside a Sagaing temple

Early morning in Sagaing

With my rikshaw driver

My rikshaw driver with his friends from a monastery

A pagoda in Sagaing

Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin)

A hill station for the English during colonial times, the town has still many attractive old houses and a botanical garden.

Botanical Garden in Maymyo

In the streets of Maymyo

Monastery festival

The kitchen crew

Sugar cane juice

The common horse taxi


English colonial style house

Collecting money for school or temple


There is a train running from Maymyo to Lashio, on the way it crosses Gokteik viaduct. Built in the 19th century, it was once the world’s second highest railway bridge. It seems to be a strategically important site, because it is strictly forbidden to take photos of it, and military posts have been installed alongside the viaduct.

In Hsipaw there is a palace of a former Shan prince. The last sao pha was arrested in 1962 when the military took over power, and he was never seen again. In her book, the Austrian born American author Inge Sargent has written down her life with her former husband and describes what happened during those days, and how autocratic and beastly the military behaved. The title of this heart-touching book is “Twilight over Burma: My life as a Shan Princess”.

On the way to Hsipaw

Gokteik Viaduct, strictly no photo!

Crossing the gorge

Market in Hsipaw

The Shan prince palace

View down on Hsipaw valley


Pindaya Cave houses thousands of  Buddha images and is an important pilgrimage site. Surprising is that in the middle of nowhere, there is an elevator building which takes people up to the cave entrance. You will hardly find anything like this in Rangoon or Mandalay.

"Bus" to Pindaya

Pindaya Caves - the elevator building

Thousands of buddha figures in the cave

Inle Lake

It is a great place to hang around for a couple of days, to take a boat for a lake trip, passing monasteries, temples, floating vegetable gardens, and see the boatmen using their legs to move the paddle back and forward. Another day a boat could be taken to drive through the canals or rent a bicycle and cycle along the lakeshore.

My boat driver

Pagodas along the canals

Buffaloes swimming

The typical feet rowing

Rice fields at the lake's shore

Swimming vegetable gardens

Seaweed harvest

Shoemaker uses old tyres as raw material

Mount Popa

Said to be an extinct volcano since 250000 years, it rises about 737 meters above the flat surrounding region. Mount Popa houses the 37 Nats,  spirits with magical power. Each one has a different function and they can be seen standing in a shrine. It’s Burma’s Olymp.


A vast area of forty square kilometres with  pagodas of all sizes which in parts have been rebuilt. It saw its best times from 11th to 13th century. The village which once was in the centre of the archaeological part was taken down in 1990 before the elections. People had to leave within one week and were resettled five kilometres away.

Sunrise on Irrawaddy river

Self made film developing laboratory

Restored Ananda temple

Inside the temple


The Shwemawdaw Pagoda is the highest in Burma rising 114 meters. Additionally, there is lying Shwethalyaung Buddha, 55 meters in length and 9 meters high.

Burma's largest pagoda, Shwemawdaw

Shwethalyaung Buddha

Family business

Showing Burmese beauty

Hindu festival

People of Indian origin

Fixed with needles through his skin

Preparing for the walk through the glow

In trance


From the pilgrim village it is a 13 kilometers walk during which 1000 meters of altitude are gained. Beside Shwedagon in Rangoon and Mahamuni in Manfdalay, it is one of the most important Buddhist sites in Burma. It is rewarding to start in the middle of the night and arrive after a three to four hours walk to see the sunrise. It is unknown how the rock made it to be there, of course there are myths and legends. One thing is for sure: it is held in its position by one of Buddha’s hairs.

Village shops selling dried fruits and sweets

Fruit stand

After sunrise

On the golden rock compound

The golden rock

Pilgrims huts

Moulmein (Mawlamyaing)

This tropical and quiet town is the fourth biggest town in Burma, with 300,000 habitants. On a hill stretch behind town there is a line of monasteries and pagodas which invite to walk from one to the other and look down on the town and the sea. Not far away in Yadana Taung, there is the 160 meters long Reclining Buddha. It is the world’s largest Buddha image. At the time I was there in 2002, construction was stopped because there were problems with statics. Inside the Buddha, on several floors, there are rooms with daemons showing what happens to sinful people. Other rooms show good examples of people.

Arriving by boat

Palm forest just next to town

Reclining Buddha

Reclining local

Being invited

Out of town

Candy manufacture

Going by horse cart

Giant Buddha near Moulmein

Daemons inside show how sin is penalized


A boat trip from Moulmein to Hpa-an runs through picturesque scenery and I can highly recommend it.

Peaceful villages

Beautiful scenery


Rangoon          Mandalay          Maymyo          Hsipaw          Inle Lake          Bago          Kyaiktiyo

 Stand: 19.07.09