Dustin Main

@dustinmain

Canadian adventure traveler since 2009. Entrepreneur, photographer, ice cream aficionado. Current projects in Burma/Myanmar www.dateanadventurer.com
- My Sister’s Keeper - "Ein Cho Khin’s personal aspirations take a backseat to helping her sister live a better life" Twin sisters Ein Cho Khin and Ein Cho Zin (22) are nearly inseparable, often sitting or standing together, hand in hand Their lives are linked by more than just their shared birthday; Ein Cho Zin was born deaf.  In the city of Mawlamyine, there were no services to support her, and the nearest is 8 hours away in Yangon.  Unable to attend a specialized school to help her learn to read, she relies on her sister for nearly all communication and never leaves the house without her.  While they haven't learned sign language, they have been able to create their own system of gestures and signs to communicate with one another The impact of this on Ein Cho Khin's life is hard to deny.  While she had entertained the idea of university in the past, an illness when she was in Grade 10 left her unable to continue her classes.  Although still young, when it comes to marriage, it's something she's no longer interested in. Holding her sister’s hand, she says, “We will stay together for life" When asked what she would say to Ein Cho Zin if she could hear, she replied that she would ask, "Are you happy?" ***** This image and story are part of the documentary photography project "This Myanmar Life" ***** Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Fishy market negotiations in Sittwe. Myanmar ThisMyanmarLife Up Close Street Photography
Wandering the Flatiron district as the sun starts to creep down in the sky.
Zombie bride meets a little doggy @ Yxefringe
Lines of my life
Street performance from an obviously dryer day at Yxefringe
Catching fire with @undeadnewlyweds at Yxefringe
Josh @joshuabarad repping Courage Wds2015 Pdxart
Last trip to the lake for the year, and one last dip in the lake As I usually spend my summers in Canada, I try to get out and camp at least a couple of times during the season. This year, I only had a pair of trips, and this last one was pushing it. Some beautiful sunny afternoons were had, but also some chilly nights. Brrr Exploresask Waskesiu
Spent the morning yesterday walking the High Line urban park in NYC. Brilliant idea and great way to reuse a structure instead of demolishing it. Art + nature in an otherwise concrete place Bonus tip: arrive before 8am for better light and to miss the tourist crowds.
Heading back to Jordan for the first time in a couple of years in just a few weeks. Honestly, I've barely touched (or even had a chance to look at) my images from that trip. Piles of amazing stories and images though. Gotta get around to sharing...
1st night in Cappadocia. Riding high in a balloon tomorrow morning :)
Legends all over the world are embracing Doitinadress this month and doing badass stuff in a schoolgirl dress in support of @onegirlorg and their projects helping girls and women in West Africa We Do It in a Dress so a girl in Africa can go to school This photo was taken during our backpacking trek last year in the beautiful Canadian Rockies.
Two days into an Iran journey, and all can say at the moment is that it's almost certainly nothing like you would expect Tehran is massive, numbering in the 14 million range. Traffic is wall to wall, and the street photography is off the hook More to come (as the crappy internet allows) Tehran
My hot air balloon flight @ Cappadocia lasted more than two hours today, dipping in and out of valleys and canyons along the way. We kissed balloons and picked apples off of trees, proving yet again that yet each and every balloon flight is a unique experience Cappadocia is one of the world's hot air balloon hotspots, and up to 150 balloons rise to the sky nearly every morning, even in winter when temperatures can dip to -25c. The numbers used to be higher even, but the government has recently limited the number to 100 at one time, and 150 max per day A ride in a hot air balloon is no budget affair, with flights typically running $200 for 45min, to $300 for 90min. Still, there are few better ways to see massive sites like Cappadocia, and the birds eye view can often be worth the splurge.
Short but sweet stay in Istanbul. I don't tend to shop much when abroad, but that doesn't stop me from checking things out Mannequins and reflections are a pair of favorites that often catch my eye. Red doesn't hurt either.
Early 6am rise in Isfahan yesterday to wander around the Nagish-e-Jahan Square. Built in the 17th century and flanked by 2 mosques, a palace, and a bazaar, it's no surprise that's it is a central meeting place for people here Shortly after sunrise, I had the place mostly to myself. A group of ~40 men were doing their daily workout at one end of the fountain, while pairs of women wandered and chatted. I shared tea with a few of the men, and had a lovely conversation with architectural student @_zahra_karimi before I had to run off. The square was one of my favorite places I've experienced so far in Iran . It's has a different feel at each time of the day. Quiet in the morning, while shopping and laughter take over in the afternoon, and wonderfully lit in the evenings. A great place for an evening stroll or for the local kids to ride their bikes In this photo is the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque whose ceiling was one of my favorite to photograph from the inside Everydayisfahan
A staff of volunteers cook up food for the less fortunate at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran The occasion was the annual Ashura holiday. It's a day, or actually a series of days, of mourning. Iran Iran4real Everydayiran
It was a massive public holiday when we arrived in Iran a couple of days ago. Black flags flying everywhere around the country The holiday is seen as a day of mourning for Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad about 1000 years ago. It's seen as a sacrifice for the Muslim people (Shi'a), and caries on for several days. Down by Tabiat Bridge, there was a live reenactment in the amphitheater of the events, and behind an area where families, friends, and couples were lighting candles. This young man was taking a photo of the tattoo on his wrist with the help of his friend. Despite censorship that prevents access to Facebook, Twitter, and many other websites, many citizens actively circumvent these blocks and access social media to share just like many millions of others around the world.
Leave my Mom alone for a few minutes to go to photograph a mosque, and when I come back she always has a few new friends. In Kashan she was teaching English to a man, and here in Isfahan she was chatting up two translator students named Somaye and Zahra while sharing some tea Iran probably isn't what you think it is... Everydayisfahan Everydayiran Iran4real
One of the most beautiful mosques in all of Iran , and who am I to argue? I just love the shapes, lines, and curves, so there is no doubt you'll be seeing more from me soon. At Nagish-e-Jahan in Isfahan
Tea time in Tehran Iran
Wanting the streets of the village of Abyaneh in Iran The village was quiet but for a few older women in the dusty red "streets" sitting outside wearing a white headscarf. Bought some delicious dried apple from one of the ladies that would have been out of this world had there been a dash of cinnamon as well Next time, BYO cinnamon Iran Iran4real
Afternoon in Persepolis 2500 year old ruins of a majestic city. Two hours just can't do it justice How do you visualize a site that existed more that two millennia in the past? I tried my best to help my Mom understand, with the help of my brother Vahid. Turns out that his passion and presentation abilities match mine perfectly Iran Iran4real Everydayshiraz @philljane
Bathroom at an Iranian roadside reststop It was a long drive from near Yazd toward Persepolis , and we pulled over mid way at a roadside rest stop area. Instead of picnic tables, there are elevated rectangular blocks of concrete covered in rock. It's BYO Persian carpet for your picnic I met a trio of trucker men having breakfast of bread, butter and a thick lemon "jam." Even with their limited English and my non-existent farsi, we still managed to hang out, communicate and eat together I later found them in the washroom. One of the guys was the mechanic and had taken the intercooler out of the truck,and they were rinsing and cleaning it out with what looked like dish detergent My favorite thing about these washrooms is that they often have a massive tub of hand soap raised above the many sinks. From there comes a single plastic tube which passes by the many sinks, each with its own little dispenser unit coming out from the single tube. Talk about efficiency. Fill that giant container full over several liters of soap once, and you won't have to worry about running out for months and months Iran Everydayiran
Islamic art in the Yazd water museum You might think a water museum would be a watered down affair, but the way the Persians fed water from Wells under the mountains and into the cities was (and is) quite the achievement Hundred of wells were dug, and underground tunnels that run for dozens or kilometers were dug by hand. The workers wore white clothes, so they would be easier to spot in these small tunnels, and so if (or when...) they died due to a tunnel collapsing, they would all ready be dressed for their funeral Everydayiran Islamicart Architecture Iran Iran4real
Evening in Shīrāz Iran trip with my Mom is winding down Tonigbt we headed up to the hotel overlooking the city. Unfortunately I'm too exhausted to talk about it right now. That's why there is tomorrow Iran4real Everydayshiraz Everydayiran Yoiran
Cars flooded and getting carried down the street in downtown Amman during a flash flood Jordan
Lovely light in the Nasir-ol Molk mosque in Shīrāz It's a famous spot for photos because of the line of stained glass windows whose light falls inside the mosque. We shared the hall with just a couple of people. Come while there are still so few tourists... Iran4real Iran Everydayiran Everydayshiraz Islamicart Mosque
Back to Bagan It's been awhile (8 months), but I'm back in Myanmar / Burma Much has changed in this country in the past few years, but the quality of the Bagan sunset is something that is always pretty predictable. The way the golden light passes through the dusty and smokey air, and hits the green crops and the red-brick pagodas is always magical For the past four years, I've been making 2-4 trips a year to the country, and I may finally be wrapping up this four year project I've been working on In the meantime, I'll just enjoy a few more of these before I get back to work ThisMyanmarLife
Everyday Iran
Flash flooding in Amman Woke up this morning to heavy rain in Amman It doesn't rain all that much in Jordan . In fact it's facing one of the world's toughest challenges when it comes to freshwater But when it does, water rushes down into the valleys from above, and if you're in downtown Amman for example, your business could be flooded past your ankles
Cassettes of Amman Found these tapes while wandering around town in Amman, Jordan . Would have bought one if I had any ability to play it whatsoever :)
Back up Balloon It was a bit of a surprise. When I visited Wadi Rum two years ago, I went on my first ever hot air balloon ride. It felt incredible to float up in the sky above the mountains and the desert. And the photos I took from that journey helped inspire my Mom to come to Jordan as well But shortly afterward, the local club cancelled their flights. Since then, I had been watching online to see if something had changed, hoping I'd be able to surprise my Mom with a flight. And the night before, my contact in Wadi Rum, in his very thick Bedouin accent said that the balloon ride was arranged for the following morning. If he wouldn't have repeated it 8-10 more times, she probably wouldn't have caught it (it was that tricky to decipher) So the next morning, we were up at 4:30 AM, early enough to catch the amazing view of the stars before sunrise, and of course, the balloon ride over the Mars-like terrain of Wadi Rum But you can't fly up there forever, and someone needs to pack that giant balloon back in the bag...
More Islamicart in Iran . Couldn't get enough of shooting the shapes and the angles. Design here is perfect for math nerds
Day on the Olive Farm It's olive season here in Jordan , so I took my Mom up to the northern part of the country to pick them and see how the olive oil is made There are millions of olive trees in Jordan, out numbering people several times over. And people come from all over to get the oil from them We stayed with a lovely family in Orjun before heading to the Olive plantation to pick the olives. It's messy work, as you could imagine, as the olives are typically picked one by one. The goal is to not damage the leaves that will help bear the fruit next season Tarps of bags sewn together are put down under the tree, and the olives are picked and dropped onto them below. Then they are picked up from the tarps, separated from the leaves and any sticks, and tossed into a pail, like 11 year old Hebeah was doing here
Bagan by Sunrise Sunrise is still the best time to see Bagan. No tour buses, no chatty tourists, no horse carts dropping poo in front of you, no touts slinging their wares It's the way Bagan is meant to be seen. Quietly, like you would a walk in the forest. And while the daytime can busy and hot, and the sunsets can be shoulder-to-shoulder (if you pick the wrong location...), the cool air of the early sunrise will always keep the masses at bay Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Tea sipping in a Bedouin tent When you're not stomping on the rocks and in the sand of the desert, you're probably sipping the sweet tea in the cool protection in a Bedouin tent The tea, which is essentially sugar water with a hint of tea, is a staple around here. Toss the kettle on the fire (literally), heat up that water, drown an insane amount of sugar in it, then pop in some tea leaves for a short while. It's warm and sweet and yum Even if what you happen to be escaping is the heat of the sun anyways...
Another Day at Tazaungdaing (2 of 4) My second day at Myanmar's 2nd biggest festival, and there were many more people here tonight. In some areas, people were packed like sardines, or in other words, like a shared Myanmar taxi Some close calls with one balloon launching it's payload of explosives right after launch, and another dropping colorful lit candles attached to parachutes directly into a packed crowd But I still have both of my eyes and 10 fingers Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Taunggyi
Attaching the Payload (1 of 4) After the fire balloons are inflated by huge torches at the Tazaungdaing festival grounds, the 'fuel' is inserted and attached to the bottom of the large paper balloon. This waxy substance helps keep the flame alive so the hot air can lift the balloon higher and higher As the fuel burns though, it begins to leak down and fall to the ground. A stick with a bucket is propped up to catch the leakage so it doesn't fall on (and ignite) the cargo of fireworks being attached below This balloon was about 27ft high (8m) Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
One Last Bagan Sunrise I was up @ 4:30am this morning, and snuck out to catch one last sunrise here in Bagan It was a cloudy morning, but the clouds broke for long enough to let in some of that magically light this place is known for. The crops and trees glowed with the golden light of the sunrise as the balloons took off for their flight Nice work Mother Nature Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Sunrise
Books for Sale A woman sits amongst a pile of books along the path to the festival grounds in Taunggyi for Tazaungdaing . The star of the show here is the fire balloon competition, but otherwise it shares many of the same traits of other festivals around the world. Ferris wheels, photo booths, carnival games, street food... albeit with their own Burmese slant I'll take you to visit them all over the next few days Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Led by a Bedouin I first met Saleh a couple of years ago on my first trip to the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan Over the course of those 4 days, I scaled sandstone cliffs and drove down desert paths in a truck stripped of all interiors. I watched a camel race with one of the princes of the UAE, and ate food cooked under the sand. I slept in desert camps, and under the bright stars of the night sky But times have changed in Jordan. What was a time of very low tourism in 2013, has plummeted even further You see, Jordan is a pretty stable country. The people like the king, and all religions are present and respected. They are sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of the Middle East. But their neighbors don't get along quite as well You have the Iraq to the east. Israel and Palestine to the west. And Syria and the whole ISIS thing going on in the north So yeah, even though Jordan is safe and rock solid, people are cancelling trips in droves, and you can kind of understand why So when I came back to see Saleh earlier this month, he wasn't guiding much anymore. He's gone into camel racing, something he told me two years ago was barely worth even doing because the costs were higher than the payouts But with the current racing season over, and his camel has a few months to rest, Saleh can find time to wander the desert again (his camel got 5th place btw)
Take Your Chances at Tazaungdaing If thousands of explosives firing down from 27ft balloons made of paper us not your thing, maybe I could interest you in one of a handful of rides at the yearly festival in Taunggyi instead? The list isn't too long Of course there is the tiny rollercoaster which I imagine is about 200ft, or the human-powered ferris wheel. But the most spiffy of all the rides is this one that the locals call in "The Pirate Ship" Speakers blast music at ear-piercing volume to attract riders, with bright and colorful lights attracting other onlookers to at least come near for a selfie. When it does fill up, it rocks back and forth, high enough to be a ride, and with just the right creaking sounds to make you fear for your life But if you have a health issue, you'll have to move on... People with a heart attack are not allowed Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Tazaungdaing
Fire From the Sky (3 of 4) As the fire balloon lifts off, the fuse on the explosive cargo beneath is lit. When all goes according to plan, the fireworks will begin shooting outwards, and later down, once the balloon has reached several hundred feet in the air But not this time Seconds after launch, hundreds of fireworks begin to rain down on the crowd below. Everyone in the field ducks and runs for the limited cover available including myself, avoiding the little bits of fire on the ground along the way. I hear a loud whistle as one whizzes by my head. I've never been in a war zone, but the temporary chaos here makes me think this might be how people feel when you don't know what's going on and you're just trying to get to safety And in a few seconds, the worst of it is over, and people look back up to the sky as the balloon continues to fly away Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Tazaungdaing Taunggyi
The Aftermath of the Launch (4 of 4) The fire brigade, complete with metal shields for protection from the firestorm raining from above, prepare to put out the fires on the ground Last year, there were several deaths at the festival, in large degree due to the cool and damp weather which prevented the balloons from taking off as planned. This year, there are barricades up to keep most from the main area where the fire balloons are launched clear. Still, outside of the fenced area, people are packed tight and often drunk, increasing the chances of injury or worse if a balloon launch goes awry Taunggyi Tazaungdaing Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Flame On After being doused in fuel, the torches that will heat the air inside the fire balloon are lit For each competing fire balloon at the Tazaungdaing festival in Taunggyi , there is a separate crew and tools. That includes the torches that will be used, ones that had been paraded through town the day of the launch When all goes according to plan, the team works like a (relatively) well oiled machine. And that's important, because when a guy is waving around a giant stick with fire on the end, you're going to want to make sure he has a path to get where he wants to go Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
The New Glowing Faces of Myanmar Of all the visible changes in this country in the past few years, there are few that are as in-your-face as the rapid adoption of mobile phones. The country is one of the fastest in terms of growth in this regard on the entire planet Only 18 months ago, these guys would be chatting around the fire. When foreign investment brought competition into the mobile network space, the price of a SIM card plummeted from $125USD only a couple of years ago, to $1.25 now So whether wandering the streets late at night seeing guys hanging out on the corner, or keeping warm between fire balloon launches at Tazaungdaing festival in Taunggyi , it's not street lights lighting up their faces (there aren't many)... It's their phone Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Fire balloon up up and away! Tomorrow is the full moon, and the last day of the Tazaungdaing festival in Taunggyi . It's been getting noticeably cooler in the evenings as the week has gone by, and people are warming themselves with fires on the ground while they watch the balloons take off into the sky Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Shan
Novice Gaze I'm not one for asking people to pose or stand still for me and for this young novice monk, I didn't need to worry about that at all Its customary for Buddhist boys to become a novice Monk  a couple of times in their life. Once, typically around age 7-10, and again around 20 years old. For a couple of days or a week, they'll stay in the monastery and live like a monk, learning more about Buddhism The event to get them there is called a novication ceremony, which is often a very public affair involving parades through village streets and food for everyone. This day, I was invited back in January by a family I met in a nearby village to see their son's novication ceremony on the full moon So I guess I'll be back here in 7 weeks or so... Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Indein
Fire Balloon Blast Off On the final launch of my Tazaungdaing experience this year, I decided to head up the hill to get a wider look at the experience. That happened to have been a good plan On the final night of the Festival , the grounds are packed to the brim. That leaves little wiggle room to run if things don't go the way they are supposed to The balloon was ready to go, and the cargo of explosives attached. Even at my distance, I saw a bright light flash. While it was still on the ground, the fireworks (numbering in the thousands) began to launch The team let the balloon lift off immediately, as it launched fireworks down into the crowd and out the sides. People ran in all directions, ducking their heads for cover As the fire balloon continued to rise and drift, it continued to drop fireworks down into the crowd, a couple of them narrowly missing me. We stomped them out as they landed and poured water on the pesky ones Taunggyi Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Fireworks Fireballoon
Candles vs Fireworks at Tazaungdaing There are two types of fire balloons launched at night during the annual Tazaungdaing festival in Taunggyi . The first packs a payload of thousands of fireworks for an impressive and dangerous display in the sky. The other carries hundreds of candles instead Under these balloons is attached a thin skeleton of bamboo with dozens or hundreds of lit candles attached. If the lantern can lift off, it carries this away, as the candles shift to keep them upright Less dangerous, but still hardly in the safe category Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
In The Name of Sleep It was a long stretch of days at the Tazaungdaing fire balloon festival. As the days went by (and long nights), I wasn't the only one in need of catching up on the zZz's Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Taunggyi
Patterns of Life My last night in Iran on a whirlwind journey. Traveling much quicker through the country than I typically do, I was just trying my best to absorb as much as I could That meant gravitating to the beautiful architecture, the bustling street scenes, and the intricate decorations of the mosques It wasn't until the days and the weeks after that I had a chance to review what my eye and my camera had captured together. One thing is certain, there is no shortage of beauty in the world At Shah-e Cheragh Shīrāz Shiraztagram Iran Everydayshiraz Islamicart Islamicarchitechture
The Chiang Mai of the Now It feels likes it has been too long since I've been back in this city that seems like my second (or third) home Over the past 5 years, I've seen things change quite quickly here. From the increased traffic, to the burgeoning art scene. The latter was the reason I came back here in early December The yearly NAP (Nimmen Art Promenade) festival brings more modern crafts to the forefront with music and food sprinkled in as well Hand made leather camera straps? Check. Locally sourced fabric iPad case made by a design student? Check. Vocal jazz standards and covers of YMCA? Check Chiangmai NAP2015
Harvesting the Floating Gardens of Inle Lake Coming down the little waterways in a canoe, between rows of tomatoes grown on the lake, it's easy to wonder how it all works The vegetables that are grown here are actually grown *on* the lake. Blocks of sod are cut from huge chunks, and floated on the lake in rows. At first, they will be attached to the floor of the shallow lake with a long bamboo stick stuck through it Eventually, it can be solid enough to walk on Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Inlelake
Sunrise Over the Patty 4:45am wakeup. Chit Htwe picked me up and we took off. The sun rises in a little over an hour, and it's an hour drive to the southern end of Inle Lake 20 minutes later, I saw the haze from the hot springs cloud the road. It's cold, and Htwe wants to stop for a quick shower. I decline. I'm already feeling a cold grabbing hold of me, and while the warmth of the water is enticing, the cold of the air afterwards is not We wait for breakfast at a stall, as the clock ticks away. The sky is lightening up, and turning pink. 45min behind schedule, we jump in the car. Htwe is speeding down the road. It's a new Road, but that doesn't mean that it's a good one in Myanmar. Over one hill, the car gets some lift, and bottoms out. That's the end of the speeding right there We're near the equator, and that means that the sun rises and sets very quickly. The light changes minute by minute. Every second counts He pulls over before we get to our destination. There is a monastery up the hill, and we begin to run up the uneven steps. It's not that long before my lungs are very upset with me. I slow to a crawl When I get near the top, and look over the rice patties surrounding the lake, it's worth it. At least that's what I think to myself as I wait for my racing heart to slow down I caught the Golden sun Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Inlelake
In the Hills of Abyaneh On the way to the small village of Abyaneh , we passed by one of Iran's infamous nuclear facilities. It was one of the few times on the trip where we couldn't take a photo in fact The village up in the hills is made of homes colored red from the soil. Few people live here now, numbering only in the hundreds, though property here in the cool mountains is being picked up by wealthy city dwellers in increasing numbers Our time here was limited, but a hike up on the other side of the valley gave us a great view back onto the city. The green trees, red buildings and blue sky gave a beautiful contrast of colors Only a few weeks later, the ground and the city were covered in barf... (their word for snow) Iran4real Traveliran Yoiran Iran
Indein Sunrise Empty. That's what Indein, the pagoda complex dating back to the 12th century at the southern end of Inle Lake, and a popular spot on the boat circuit is like in the early morning shortly after sunrise Not only is it devoid of tourists, but the red, white and gold of the pagodas glow against the lush green forests that surround it in the early morning light I've been here many times now, and this is the best time to be here for sure. Don't miss it Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Inlelake Indein
The Other Golden Land Much of my time in the past few years has been spent in Myanmar (Burma), a country commonly referred to as "The Golden Land" for their seemingly infinite number of golden buddhas and stupas that dot the landscape My time in Iran a few months ago reminded me of Myanmar in many ways. From the controversial government holding the reins, to the culture and people partly closed off from the rest of the world for decades Many things are changing in Iran these days, much like the ones I've been following in Myanmar over the past 4 years But some days you're just standing on top of a rooftop in Kashan , Iran at sunset, and reminded of another golden land Islamicarchitechture Iran4real Everydaykashan
Evening in Yazd The wonderfully lit Amir Chakhmaq Mosque & Square is the center of attention in Yazd, Iran. On one evening that I was there, the government had set up a series of tents. A pair had a series of propaganda posters about the governments of the west, particularly the USA. Another had a series of posters about how the internet and television will ruin your life / marriage. The latter was staffed by younger students (16 years old or so). It's an interesting contrast in the country. Many people I met considered it natural and normal to circumvent the restrictions on Internet communication put in place by the government. The government's line is still quite hard, but who knows how long it will stand before facebook, twitter, and many other social networks are allowed The following day, this same square was filled with carpets, as folks served tea and prayed as some soldiers who died in the Iran-Iraq war decades ago were returned home Iran Iran4real Yoiran Yazd
My Mom is a Travel Badass A few years ago, my Mom wouldn't take a flight by herself. She was terrified of getting stuck in an airport and not know where to go (among other things). When she took her first flight solo that involved a sleep in an airport hotel, she barely slept, fearing she would miss her flight But that has since changed. In the past few years, my Mom has visited a host of countries on several continents. From Thailand to Vietnam, Myanmar, Turkey and Jordan. Not your usual vacation destinations to say the least So it's should be no surprise that when I pitched her a trip to the middle east earlier this year (with the main attraction being Iran), not only did she jump at the chance (admittedly after about 3 min of convincing), she's since become an ambassador for others afraid to travel. When people told her not to go to Iran because she would get her head cut off or because of ISIS, she fired back with facts of how amazing (and educated) the Iranian people are, and the kind nature they were known for The world is not the scary place you see on the news. It's generally filled with 99% of humans who would give you the shirt off of their back if you needed it So thank you Mom, for being a badass and amazing travel partner. Here's to more adventures to come Photo from Kashan, Iran
Islamic Art Everywhere Iran , as it turns out, has no shortage of Islamic art around. It seems like every building, every mosque, every street was made with a eye for detail Its no wonder I met so many architectural students during my time there. Hard not to be inspired I for one loved the shapes and patterns that adorned the walls and ceilings From Shah Cheragh, Shīrāz Everydayiran Everydayshiraz Shiraztagram Yoiran Islamicart Islamicarchitechture
Full Moon Hop Full moon day in Myanmar means a few things, and chief among them just happens to be that it's a reason for celebration. The lunar cycle is important in the Buddhist calendar, and it typically brings the community together That's the case here in Khaung Daing, a small village on the skirts of Inle Lake. Early in the morning, the families dress their best and head down to the monastery to give an offering Its a semi-formal affair, as things typically are when the kids break loose and just into the rays of the rising sun Burma ThisMyanmarLife Inlelake Inle
Persian's Knew How To Build a Home The Tabātabāei House in Kashan is a historical home, dating back to the late 1880's, and covers 5000 Sq meters. The family had some serious cash As is the norm there, tall walls surround the property (for privacy), and there are several courtyards inside. But that's only a start. A series of tunnels run underground to help cooler air circulate throughout during the viciously hot summers. It's pretty incredible, and not the only ingenious use of forced air that the Iranians used to keep cool in the desert heat Once again, the architecture and design details are tops The Persians know what's up... Iran4real Iran Everydaykashan
Return On the Water Inle Lake is pretty massive, and it's hard to cover ground by bike, especially since much of what makes it so magical is on the water itself So at the end of an exhausting day, it's always nice to toss the bike into a boat and skip those butt-busting roads and catch the sunset from the lake at the same time If that's not a win-win, I don't know what is Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Finishing What I Started More that 4 years ago, I made my first trip to Myanmar. Since then, I've returned more than a dozen times to document the stories and the change as this country opens its doors to the world This place has a way of getting under my skin. I love it, and I hate it. It feeds my being, and it kills me. You could say that our relationship is complicated So as I wrap my project in preparation for the gallery showings and book later this year, I've returned to Maing Thauk one last time. I don't know if it actually will be, or if I'll be back in the fall once again. It's like an itch you probably shouldn't scratch, but its beginning to take over your mind and your entire world But for now, I know there is just one path forward, and I'll just have to see where it takes me Burma ThisMyanmarLife Myanmar Inlelake
Cuddle Up For Burmese Winter We were up and out at 5am to make sunrise on the other side of the lake. It's black out besides the stars in the sky, and the moon dipping behind the mountains My driver Htwe pulls us over as we head round the corner into a fog. He's heading in for a quick dip into the hot springs, a decent way to beat the wintery chill of the early morning here in the mountains of Shan State. I pass as I'm feeling a little ill these days, and instead head into the little tea shop area. Near my feet is a hot water well, with steam rising up and out Three heads pop up as I bring my camera in for a shot. Cats are piled on top of each other and around the well, conserving what heat they have, and savoring what they can get from the warm cement No room for me down there though Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Inlelake Inle
Market Day I followed La Min and her family through the local market in Kaung Daing shortly after sunrise with a question on my mind: What's in your basket? We weaved through the rows of ethnic farmers and sellers who had come from the villages surrounding for this special, once-every-five-day market. This isn't the sort of place you stand around in, it's a bustling venue and people come here on a mission, not to browse With some items, she had a usual seller to see, but when it came to fish, La Min was shopping around. The first seller wanted 4000 kyat ($3.25) for a single fish from the lake that would only be enough for a single meal for the family. She decided on a pair of cheaper "farm" fish that would make 2 meals, and for nearly half the price. "Not as sweet, though," she added. 2x fish (farm bred): 2300 kyat ($1.60) 1x Bag of chicken: 3500 kyat ($2.50) 6x eggplant: 300 kyat ($0.25) 1x bundle spring onion & parsley 400 kyat ($0.30) 2x 1 liter cooking oil 2400k ($1.75) 1x bag of chillies 400 kyat ($0.30) 1x bag of peanuts 400 kyat ($0.30) 1x bundle of roselle leaves 200 kyat ($0.15) 1x bag of fish paste 200 kyat ($0.15) For less than $7.50, she has enough food for 3 days worth of meals for her family. Meat is a high value item here, and vegetables are a massive bargain given that they are grown nearby And for the kids, two Dvds for 300 kyat ($0.25) each on the way back home Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Yet Another Bagan Sunset It's hard to get bored with a sunset around here. Thousands of temples dot the landscape, spreading out in every direction you turn But after the sun goes down and people rush down there high spot on the temple preparing to race back to their guesthouse and get some dinner into their belly, what you want to do is stay Stay for the shifting colors in the sky as they continue to turn after the sun has dipped over the horizon. Stay for the lights that shine on the biggest and most important temples, making them glow Just make sure you don't forget your headlamp. Those stairs coming down from the temple can be sketchy! Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Ananda Bagan
Crossing the River As the sun begins to set over the Chindwin River, many workers head down the eastern banks to find a boat to take them home across the river Monywa is a bustling little city, and a transport hub for sending goods up and down the Chindwin. Like Yangon, the city has become expensive, and many choose to live in a village across the river at a fraction of the price, and with peace and quiet that the city can no longer offer So around 4:30pm, folks are scrambling down the steep, dusty banks to make the boat. For 200 kyat (~$0.15), you can pile on the boat and head across when it's full Just another Burmese commute... Burma ThisMyanmarLife Myanmar Monywa
Waiting for the Ink to Dry Relishing the chance to vote in a (relatively) legit election, 'Ricky' has kept a reminder of that day nearly 3 months ago close at hand On election day, citizens would dip their finger in ink after casting their ballot, a measure to prevent voting multiple times. But a ballot cast is hardly proof of forthcoming progress, and the people of Myanmar know that as well as anyone For years, they have had their hopes of positive change dashed over and over again. Election after election, protest after protest, just to have the same old... Or worse. For the better part of 50 years, they've been relying on hope for something better in the future So given the track record in the country, 'Ricky' was only ready to believe it when he sees it. He's kept that inky reminder on his fingernail since mid November, promising only to remove it when Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Su Kyi and her NLD party took over the government after winning the elections here in a landslide in mid Nov 2015 Today was that day. The new government convened for the first time, and a new hope is alive in the country And tonight, Ricky should have a clean nail Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Tea Time It's customary that when you're invited into a home in Myanmar , that you'll have some tea How that tea is prepared is another story. Perhaps there is an electric kettle involved, or just one plopped down on the fire like this one here in a home in Pin Tin Gone, rural Shan State For atmosphere, the smoke might build in the home, making for some spectacular lighting. Probably less spectacular for your lungs though Burma ThisMyanmarLife Shan
A Dying Art At 60 years old, U Kyaw Soe is holding onto something that is quickly disappearing. Along with his body which is 80% covered in tattoos, this tattered book is one of the ways he keeps the art and history that has come his way For the past 50 years, he has been tattooing in the traditional Shan and Intha way thanks to the knowledge passed down by his father and brother. However it's not just any ordinary tattoo. The art is steeped in superstition and astrology, as is much of Myanmar folklore. It is said that if you choose to have the tattoo "come alive, " it can protect you from swords piercing your flesh, bullets, and physical damage from hits. The mantras that are matched to the tattoo are part of what gives it the power. They can be about love, luck, or protecting the body But it's not necessarily all good. For each tattoo has its own consequences. It may make you more powerful and strong, but at the same time it may repel others from you. It may make you lucky in business, but leave romance a perpetual problem. These negative traits could perhaps be assisted by another tattoo, but it's always a balance that can never be totally made in your favor Now at 60, and with no one to pass down the craft and knowledge of the traditional Intha and Shan tattoo, this tattoo master may indeed be holding onto something on the verge of disappearing Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Bamboo Birth Certificate The people of Myanmar often look to the stars for help, which makes some sense when you consider that they haven't had full control of their own lives for so many decades under military regimes. But even before that, and up until today, astrologers play an important roll for the people Right from birth, meeting with an astrologer is critical for many families. They mark the exact time of the birth, the lunar cycle, location and more, and can use this to create the "Zeda." The Zeda is a piece of bamboo, etched with all of the important astrological information for the newborn, and is kept and used in the future as a reference for making decisions in life. It's tied together with string, and bamboo pieces are placed in the middle to give it some strength That new tattoo you want, when the best times to marry are, and even advice on your name can be gleaned from its complex lettering and images And that durability come in handy in a case like this. This Zeda for Saya Chay is 87 years as is he. He has the 4 for his children as well, but the newest generation, his grandchildren, don't. Another fading tradition Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Shan
Going to Market Goods here in Myanmar don't necessarily all come from China. Many everyday items are still made in the towns and villages in this country of 55 million Take these baskets for example. They are weaved on the other side of the Chindwin River, and brought across by boat to be sold at the market in Monywa They're nothing special, typically used as a garbage bin that is put out on the side of the road every few days. With these, the money stays in the community, and they're not made of plastic. On the other hand, that also means they don't last all that long But they're cheap, and that counts for a lot when there isn't a whole not of money going around as it is And for this man, who is carrying 2 rings of 10 baskets each on his head like the world's largest hat, it means that there will always be more and more to carry to the market Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Monywa Everydaymyanmar
Back to Bagan It's kind of funny. It took a couple of years and 8 visits to Myanmar before I finally decided to visit the temples of Bagan . I thought there would be too many tourists, that it would be too hot, that it wouldn't be worth it And that first trip a little over two years ago turned into the first of many. In fact I've probably spent 2 months here over the past couple of years And who could blame me? The sunrises and sunsets are fantastic. The space is massive, making everyday a new adventure, and the environment even changes with the seasons I was last here two and a half months ago. Then, the rainy season was just ending, and the plains were bright and green. Now, it hasn't rained in months, and the air has a haze due to dust and smoke For photography, not necessarily better or worse... But different And plenty more where this came from Burma ThisMyanmarLife
A Picture of Iran If you're from the west, you probably have a picture in your mind about Iran and Iranians. Its probably a picture formed in our minds from the news over the course of years or decades Maybe this picture is one that might form in your mind when picturing the country. One showing a wall with anti-American propaganda, with a women in traditional Islamic attire like an Iranian chador This Iran exists. The picture doesn't lie. I was there and clicked the shutter But what you might not know is that this picture isn't the whole story. It doesn't tell you about the nature of the people I met, or the stories I heard in the streets and city squares Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing photos and stories from my recent journey to Iran. Stay tuned Iran4real Iran Persia
Drugs Tearing Villages Apart Rural Shan State is mostly made of villages in the mountains, with transportation provided by ox cart and motorbikes It's typically a pretty simple sort of life, but in some areas, drugs have begun creeping in and scarring communities For Daw Sein, who just celebrated her 92nd birthday, it's making an impact. Her grandson and one of his friends have recently become addicted, and it's already making an impact on the village The village chief is attempting to deal with it internally, as there are no hospitals nearby, and they don't want to involve the police. The military is another issue. In these parts, the government and the local ethnic groups have been fighting, in part for the lucrative drug trade in the area Daw Sein and her family are scared. The drug addiction has made her grandson's behavior unpredictable and erratic. It's all totally new to them. They don't know about drugs. She just wants her family back Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Shan
Under the Blade I went out looking for an abandoned amusement park in Yangon , and ended up at novice ceremony instead The event holds great significance for the Buddhist families in Myanmar. Its a social and cultural event, sort of a "coming of age" sort of thing It's customary for the novice monks to have their heads shaved before they head to the monastery for a few days or a week And in typical fashion, the music was loud, the families were smiling, and the hair was falling Smiles all around, but except the kids under the blade Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Self Portrait There is so much magic in Bagan , and I feel like I've been keeping much of it to myself these past few years So I plan to change that. In Oct / Nov 2016, I'll be running a pair of super small 'untours' to Myanmar , covering some of the best the country has to offer. If you've seen my photos from the country, you'll know what's coming your way So if you'd like to be kept in the loop, check the URL in my profile and sign up for updates on my website. Full details to follow in April. I imagine the spots will go fast... Burma ThisMyanmarLife Feel The Journey
The Dry Zone The plains of Bagan weren't always this dry It's February now, and the summer season is about to begin. It hasn't really rained anything substantial here since November, so you can understand why it has gotten so dry and hazy in the past few months But what I mean is that Bagan used to have more trees. Trees to keep the unbearable summer heat that reaches 48°c at bay. Trees to hold water in the soil and prevent erosion. And like a lot of successful societies, they cut the trees for firewood and to build... Until there were almost none Something similar happened in Petra (Jordan). If you visit now, you'll be hard pressed to find more than the odd tree, but at one time, there was quite the forest there. The success of the society killed the trees, which in turn helped lead to the society falling apart In Bagan now, there is a greenification program taking place, reintroducing trees that have been lost over the years. It's a slow process, but an important one. Trees are certainly more than just shade, but if you have ever been in the heat of Bagan, it's a good enough reason to start Bagan Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Piano Day Today is the 2nd annual Piano Day, created by the talented Nils Frahm I actually got into piano through electronic music of all things. Hearing Craig Armstrong's keys on tracks by Massive Attack in the 90's. Later, as I got into Scandinavia jazz, piano took on a different sound and meaning. More recently, it's been the soundscapes modern classical sounds from Olafur Arnalds, Lambert, Chilly Gonzales, Nils Frahm and many others inspiring me One thing I've missed while traveling these past 6 years is standing still long enough to take some lessons. Hopefully I can put some time in this summer and learn to play some of my favorites Seeinanewway Pianoday
The Search When I say everyday is an adventure here, I'm not stretching the truth For more than 4 years, I've been search out stories here in Myanmar. Some seem to fall into my lap with little or no effort... Like being at the right place at the right time. And others, not so much In this case, all I had to go on was a short conversation I had with a women in the back of a jam-packed pickup truck a year earlier. This brief experience left an impression on me though. The short notes in my journal said that she seemed like an exceptionally strong 50 year old women who was never married, but was taking care of her deceased sister's two girls That ride in the pickup on a hot and dusty day was all about survival. There were 29 of us packed like sardines in the back of the truck, and that doesn't include the same amount likely piled on the roof above us. Travel doesn't get much more uncomfortable. I snapped a picture of her at the time, but didn't think much of it until a few days later. It tells the story of a hard life So a year on, I'm retracing the route with a laminated photo in hand, driving from village to village along that road, seeing if anyone can identify the women from the photo. Her eyes are closed, and face covered in a cloth in hopes of filtering out the dusty air. When it comes to recognizing someone from a photo, this is not making it easier by a long shot Slowly the pieces of the puzzle start coming together after a series of dead ends and we get some sense of direction. An uncertain women thinks she lives far down the road, 20 miles away, so we head that way. At the next village, they think she lives down a road away from the river, so we head there As often happens, the neighborhood comes out to see what all the fuss is about. The photo is passed around, and my meager supply of information about her is repeated This place too was a dead end, as it turns out she's not from around this village. So I hop back on the motorbike and carry on... Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Bagan's Twilight Glow After the sun dips below the horizon, some of the major temples of Bagan are lit up for the night Find yourself at the right place after dark, and you'll have a wonderful view of a temple like Htilominlo Bagan Burma Myanmar ThisMyanmarLife
Head Down in Work I'm back in Canada after 5 months away, just trying to stay warm while sorting out the mass of projects in front of me. Some days, it's daunting The work I love to do is in the field... hearing stories, capturing photos, and leading people to incredible experiences. On the other hand, the work I'm doing here is in some ways the opposite of that. It's computers, e-mails, websites. It's sorting photos, the masses of information I've gathered and organizing sales and galleries to pay for it all. Not nearly as exciting (for me at least), yet it's still an important part of the process. In fact, one can't exist without the other So while my head is too often fixated on the glowing rectangle in front of me these days, I try to keep in mind that it won't be too long before I get back into thick of things, where my heart is pounding around every corner and the smiles pour out of my face Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Bagan
Tattoo Starter Kit Ko Chin Chin has been an artist for quite some time, beginning with painting canvas, and somewhere along the line painting skin But as an aspiring tattoo artist, he couldn't afford a professional kit to do his work. So being the resourceful man his is, he made his own tattoo device Fashioned out of a pen, a piece of plastic pipe, a small motor, and an ordinary needle like you would use to repair a hole in your jeans, he made his very own motorized tattoo gun He demonstrated it for me, giving the wires to his son to press to the leads of a small battery. Immediately it came alive, the motor rotating and pulling and pushing the plastic pen insert up and down rapidly. The needle attached to the end was quickly moving up and down, stabbing the air. As he hovered it over a piece of paper and dragged it along, it cut right through He had a box with more than a dozen of these that he made by hand. He wouldn't sell them to anyone else, not wanting to give away the secret Many years have passed since he has used these on a person, and he's since moved to a newer professional kit. But the path he took showed how much he wanted to practice his art even if he didn't have the tools to do it from the start Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Tattoo
Life of a Young Monk In Myanmar, nearly all boys will become novice monks once or twice as they are growing up. This usually involves a large ceremony in the village / town, having their heads shaved, then living in the monastery for a few days or a week learning about the teachings of buddhism Rarely do they stick around though As a child, Po Htein visited the monastery near the famous Ananda Temple in Old Bagan several times. At 11 years old, he decided to stay here, leaving behind his friends and family in his village more than 3 hours away. Now at 17, he sometimes wonders how much longer he'll stay His day begins early at 4am, when he and the other monks walk around collecting alms from the homes around. At 6am, they head to the village of New Bagan and continue collecting there until 10am with an hr break in between. Nearly 4 hours is spent collecting alms every morning However, after that is finished, much of his day is free to do as he likes. Only from 1pm - 2pm, when an older monk teaches, and from 6pm - 7pm when they all gather to pray and chant is mandatory. With the early wake-up the next day just around the corner, he's in bed by 8pm His life is a playful one though. While he had two sisters at home growing up, what he enjoys most about being here is spending time with the other younger monks. They're like his little brothers, and he's the eldest of the bunch now As adulthood looms closer, he says he wants to be a farmer back in his village, growing onions on the family land. Maybe after living here for one more year, he'll decide. Or maybe not Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Bagan
Sci-fi Iranian Mall The bazaar in Kashan looks more like a desert complex from a sci-fi film than a bustling market with history going back nearly a thousand years, at least from the outside In fact the view from the roof, if you can get your way up, is incredible. While the vendors below are selling carpets and drinking chai down below, you can be crawling over the earthen roof above. And in case you forget that you're essentially on top of a working 'mall,' just peek down the little holes to see all the action inside Just be careful where you step Everydaykashan Kashan Iran
Led to Iran Iranian / Canadian relations have been on the rocks, and that made it an expensive challenge to travel to Iran My Canadian passport is almost like a VIP entry ticket to the globe. One that allows me to show up to many countries unannounced (without a visa), where I'm welcomed with a smile solely because of the citizenship I was born in to, and the passport in my hand Iran isn't one of those countries. In fact, it's one of the few places that has set up some hurdles for someone like me (Canadian) to travel to. Those hurdles included a costly visa, and a requirement to be on a guided tour to visit the country That last part had been a bit of a deal breaker. Typically, I travel independently. It's a way that lets me spend as much (or as little) time in a location as I like, and a freedom to go where I please But while I appreciate the privilege I have with this passport, it's hard for me to blame Iran. The political situation between some countries in the West and Iran leaves travelers like myself in the middle. And while I didn't like the fact that I was required to be on a tour (even if it was led by the fantastic @yomadic), I know that it was still much easier for me to visit Iran than for Iranians to visit Canada Kashan Iran4real Everydaykashan
Don't Tell Me I Didn't Warn You That was one of the things people told me before my trip to Iran Now, when it comes to my travels, I've been to many places that people would claim to be dangerous. Most of my friends know what I do and that I know what I'm doing when it comes to dropping into random places around the globe to do what I love But when it came to the fact that I was taking my Mom along, some even went so far as to say what I was doing was reckless. Iran, in their minds, was an evil place, and I was taking a risk bringing her along on this adventure Of course, that's crazy. We had a great time in Iran, where the worst thing that happened is that I overpaid for postage stamps So we wandered the streets at nights, and the empty bazaars before they opened. We drank tea with folks we didn't share a common language with, and talked about the changing role of Iranian women with the women themselves Dangerous is texting and driving. Dangerous is walking into the middle of a street without looking both ways. Dangerous is letting headlines dictate your opinions Photo taken in Isfahan , Iran
Making the Most of It In photography we talk about the "Golden Hour" a lot. It's this special time of the day, just following sunrise and just before sunset when the light comes through the atmosphere at an angle, softer and warmer (more orange/yellow) than the harsh, cold (blue tint) of the height of the day We love this time because this light makes for amazing views, and of course, our photography Less spoken about is the "Blue Hour" or twilight... That time before the sun peeks over the horizon in the morning, or after it drops for the night in the evening To make one of these times in Bagan , you'll need to get up bright and early, braving darkness as you navigate the dusty paths. As you can see though, it's worth the effort Plus, you can just nap after lunch anyways If you'd like more tips on planning your Bagan experience, check the URL in my profile. Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Belly dancing at the Saskatoon Fringe Festival. Yxe Fringe
10000 Monks - Chiang Mai Lensbaby  Seeinanewway Feel The Journey
Sunset in Bagan. Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Motorbike journeys on dusty-red roads. Me, My Camera And I Mirror Open Edit
A Burmese women covers her mouth with a piece of cloth to filter out the fumes and dust during a hot 2.5hr (40km) journey in the back of a pickup truck in rural Myanmar. At 52 years old, she's rare in that she has never been married, and instead has dedicated her life to taking care of her sister's children after she passed away. The Human Condition Burma ThisMyanmarLife