The People We Meet: The People of Mandalay
September 30, 2016
This August I embarked on a trip to Myanmar, the “land of Golden Pagodas”. I spent three weeks immersed in a monastic school in the northeastern part of Mandalay, the former royal capital of northern Myanmar. If you want to read a more in-depth essay on my impressions of Myanmar, head over to this article.
Beyond its concourse of awe-inspiring pagodas and natural beauty, what touched me the most about Myanmar were its people.With 135 different ethnic groups who practice their own traditions, my attention was quickly diverted from the sceneries and turned into faces.
They say you don’t know a place until you know its people.
Meet the people of Mandalay.
Low Tin Muang (16) resides at the monastic school in Mandalay but is originally from Shan state. His village is located right next to the Chinese border. Tin Muang’s father is in the military and once he graduates from school, he hopes to continue his father’s steps. He showed me around the city and I took this photograph of him while descending Mandalay Hill, where you can find many small pagodas that feature Burmese scripts on walls and archways.
A boy from the Chin minority clutches the arm of his best friend, a novice, a Bamar . Myanmar is an extremely ethnically diverse country, with over 130 groups that speak different languages, have different traditions and history.
Tony posing for me during our outings in the city on a Sunday afternoon with Kuthodaw Pagoda as a backdrop. This peculiar pagoda is known for containing the world largest book, of which “pages” are transcribed on stone. Each stone is guarded inside different stupas (seen in the background) that surround the central golden pagoda.
Three novices who attend the monastic school in Nanshe. Many think that monks and those who lead monastic lives are in it for life, but many seek to live it in order to attain an education free of charge, as many monasteries still retain their original tradition of providing an education to the population at no cost. Others lead monastic lives for short times, anywhere from a few days to several months or even years in order to get life education and then go back to their normal lives.
Once finished with school, two out of these three novices will lead normal lives. In the center stands Tim, who dreams of becoming a military man. Ken, to the right, plans on becoming a Buddhist monk while Tony, on the left, is still unsure of what he wants to do.
The Burmese carry umbrellas everywhere they go, as they provide a shield from the rain as well as the merciless sun rays.
This woman sells watermelons outside of the monastic school every day from 8am to 4pm
A hand reader in one of the many pagodas at Mandalay Hill’s grounds.
If you want to read a more in-depth essay on my impressions of Myanmar, head over to this article.