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Entries in Myanmar (139)


Daw Khin Tin

The woman on the left with the big smile and the wonderful hat is Daw Khin Tin, the owner of the Khin Soe Trading Company in Myitkyina and the major exporter of rattan from the Hukaung Valley. She is also a devout Buddhist (note mala dangling from her right hand) and feels that her current business success is a result of deeds in past lives. She recently donated two million kyat  to a local monastery so that they could rebuild their pagoda. In response, the monks let her use several acres of land around the monastery as a rattan storage and drying area.

in 2005 when this picture was taken, Daw Khin Tin was moving about 40,000 rattan canes/month out of Hukaung during the dry season. The material is carried (see Rattan Truck) back to Myitkyina where it is washed and treated with diesel and then trucked to China. We were camped right down the road from her rattan landing, and I had a wonderful chat with Daw Khin Tin one afternoon (thx, Saw Lwin). She told me all about the rattan trade in the Hukaung Valley, complained about the bridges (see Checking the Bridge), and gave me a pack of Chinese rice crispy treats. I gave her a "Hukaung Valley Rattan Survey 2005" t-shirt. There were lots of smiles all around. Image below shows Daw Khin Tin, U Tun Shuang (see Group Photo), me, Andrew (see A Palm, Two Botanist With Cameras) and the rice crispy treat (cradled in my right hand).


Myanmar TV 3

So here I am on January 15, 2005, standing out in a field next to a pagoda in Shimbweyeng, Myanmar (see Pressing Palms), holding a leaf of Calamus palustris and talking to a reporter from MRTV-3 about "the rattan situation" in Kachin State. While the cameras roll. You couldn't make this stuff up. The interviewer, whose name I forget, was the daughter of the Burmese diplomat to the U.S. and grew up in Washington. Her English was very good. As were her questions, e.g. "how many species of rattan are endemic to the Hukaung Valley"?

[NOTE: The camera crew was actually in Shimbweyeng to film the Naga festival (see Naga Festival), but apparently Andrew and I were just too quirky a story to pass up: Scientists from New York Study Spiny Palms in Hukaung Tiger Reserve].



Morning game of dominoes in the Central Market of Tanai in northern Myanmar (see Shopping For Supplies and Shopping for Rope in Tanai). So much that I like in this photo. The player's concentration and the way they hold the tiles (or "bones"). The spectators all clustered around the table (crate) watching the action - and opining on things, I'm sure. I mean, look at the expression on the gentlemen in the beige jacket. And then there's the fellow, back left, in the blue jacket that seems more interested in the new guy taking all of the pictures. [NOTE: Love the longyi, wool cap, winter coat, and sandal look].


Pressing Palms

Andrew Henderson and I together with  U Tin Maung Ohn (white shirt, sitting cross-legged on a newspaper; see U Tin Maung Ohn and the Monkey), U Kyaw Lwin (dark blue shirt, sitting on the ground), and several local field assistant in the courtyard of the Shimbweyeng Guesthouse in northern Myanmar cutting up and pressing the day's collection of palm specimens. [NOTE: Warm enough for palms, but I have on a flannel shirt and several of the guys are wearing jackets. Perfect weather for botanizing]. 


Standing Around (w/Elephants)

Don't know who took this photo, because both U Tun Shaung (see Group Photo) and I are in it. At some point during the 2005 Hukuang Valley Rattan Survey (see Hukaung Valley Rattan Survey), most of the science team is standing out on the Ledo Road with the portage elephants trying to figure something out. From L - R: Loi Mai and Aung Bu (see A Bridge Too Far), me, U Tun Shuang, Gung Aung (mahout), Dr. Andrew Henderson (see A Palm, Two Botanists With Cameras), U Myint Maung (Warden of Hukaung Tiger Reserve), and U Kyaw Lwin. [NOTE: We are all wearing our green "Hukaung Valley Rattan Survey" baseball caps as we try to resolve whatever the problem is]. 


Another Sunset

I keep finding new images from the Hukaung Valley expedition. This one is a beautiful sunset over the Tanai River after finishing up the fieldwork. Goes nicely with this and this. Oh, and this, too. See Myanmar 2005 for more details about the trip. [NOTE: Photo by the incomparable Tun Shuang (thx)].


Hukaung Vista

N26°59'; E 96°11'

Hukaung Valley Wildlife Reserve (see Hukaung Valley Rattan Survey; Mandalay Express) somewhere between 21 mile camp and Namyun in Kachin State, Myanmar. I remember thinking when I took this picture in 2006 that this was one of the most beautiful pieces of forest that I had ever seen. Still think so. Hope things clear up in Kachin before too long (see Cease Fire? Maybe Not) so that I can get back in and finish my work there. 


Looks Like She Won

After almost two decades under house arrest (see Aung San Suu Kyi and Clinton and Suu Kyi), the leader of Myanmar's democracy movement and Nobel-laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has apparently won a seat in Parliament, i.e. the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. Although this ruling council is still overwhelmingly under the control of the military, Suu Kyi's election is a meaningful and exciting step in the right direction for this country. [NOTE: I certainly would never have predicted that things would be moving so fast in Myanmar. She was still under house arrest when I was last there. Photo by Nyein Chan Naing/European Pressphoto Agency].


Cease Fire? Maybe Not.

Seems like a bit of the good news from Myanmar reported a few weeks ago (see More Good News From Myanmar) may have been premature. Government announces that it has signed a cease-fire agreement with the Karen National Union guerillas. Three weeks later, the Karen rebels say "We never signed a cease fire. We still need to discuss the conditions". Sigh. Disappointing, but not surprising. [NOTE: Image, by Francis Wade, from the Democratic Voice of Burma, shows a Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) soldier with a rocket launcher. Buddhist army? Interesting concept. Camouflage fatigues and saffron kerchief].



Split rattan mat and the beautiful carved wood and rattan tumpline used to carry it. Photographed near a Kachin encampment along the Ledo Road in the Hukaung Valley of Myanmar (see Kachin Portrait).