Sandbar lookout, near Bhamo

Sandbar lookout, near Bhamo

Myitkyina

Myitkyina

Solar eclipse, Myitkyina

Solar eclipse, Myitkyina

Marlboro men, between Sinbo and Bhamo

Marlboro men, between Sinbo and Bhamo

Bhamo

Bhamo

Annett and Mario, Shwegu

Annett and Mario, Shwegu

Between Bhamo and Katha

Between Bhamo and Katha

Adam, Pakokku

Adam, Pakokku

Between Bhamo and Katha

Between Bhamo and Katha

Elephant work camp, Katha

Elephant work camp, Katha

Sehtatgyi Paya, Pyay

Sehtatgyi Paya, Pyay

Magwe

Magwe

Myanmar

Ayeyarwady River

January 2010 • Got off the tourist loop (Yangon-Bagan-Mandalay-Inle Lake) and flew to Myitkyina, the northernmost town where foreigners are allowed to go without a special permit. Followed the Ayeyarwady River all the way back to Yangon, traveling by local and express boats, train, minivans, and full-size buses. Rarely ever saw other foreigners, so the reception from locals was rock-star caliber. Sometimes the attention was endearing (like the guy in Monywa), and sometimes it was oppressive (like the girl in Pakokku). A lot of people want to learn or practice English, which is usually taught inaccurately by a Myanmar national rather than by a native speaker. And because the people are so starved for contact with the outside world, social boundaries aren't quite as rigid as they are in the Western world.

Sandbar lookout, near Bhamo

Sandbar lookout, near Bhamo

Myitkyina

Myitkyina

Solar eclipse, Myitkyina

Solar eclipse, Myitkyina

Marlboro men, between Sinbo and Bhamo

Marlboro men, between Sinbo and Bhamo

Bhamo

Bhamo

Annett and Mario, Shwegu

Annett and Mario, Shwegu

Between Bhamo and Katha

Between Bhamo and Katha

Adam, Pakokku

Adam, Pakokku

Between Bhamo and Katha

Between Bhamo and Katha

Elephant work camp, Katha

Elephant work camp, Katha

Sehtatgyi Paya, Pyay

Sehtatgyi Paya, Pyay

Magwe

Sehtatgyi Paya, Pyay