Of all the mornings in my intense three week trip, this had to be the worst one I had woken up to.
A hard night’s sleep compounded by some dodgy food from the night before meant I was not in the best frame of mind for any filming.

I was shooting a documentary about a man’s search for buried WWII spitfires by Rangoon airport in Burma for Room 608, a production company from New York.

Important to the story, were the smells, sounds and colour of this truly wonderful country and so we rocked up at a buddhist monastery on the outskirts of Yangon. It was humid and sticky and as we set about wondering what and how to film when out of nowhere around two hundred monks started filing into the temple and before I knew it were soon in prayers.

Wearily I began filming..

After the service, the head monk offered the crew a breakfast. I quickly gulped it down and excused myself to go and have a look around and found myself at the back of the monastery in the living quarters.

Young monks had just returned from their early morning street “begging” if that is the right term for it. They wander the streets in single file with large bowls accepting money, food or what is freely donated to them.

The young monks were lazying in their dorms. Busy reading holy scriptures, some playing, others folding their sleeping mats, or  washing their garments.

It was like I didn’t exist as they all went about their business. With one hand on my C300 and the other on my Canon 5D taking pictures, it didn’t take long before the beauty of what I was capturing seemed to charge my adrenalin and wake me up from my slumber.

It had been a while since I had been this excited about filming in such an incredible setting. The monks soon opened up and thrived on the attention they were getting from me asking them to pose behind their cloaks. Seeing their pictures in the camera they glowed like excited children.

The soft colours and and the beautiful light evoked a Caravaggio painting; it inspired another angle, another shot, another pose.I was so busy taking photos and I only had a short amount of time to take them in, that I left not having learnt any of their stories. A real shame.

Having travelled quite extensively around the planet, people always ask me what my favourite country is and it is a question I have always found quite hard to answer.

With the increasing¬†homogenisation¬†on our planet, the rise of tourism and the monetizing from a country’s cultural identity, there are very few places I would want to visit again but what I can say for certain is I really hope to return back to Burma again and explore the rest of its incredible landscape and have the fortune to capture the beauty of the people before they too succumb to lure of a Starbucks coffee.

 

 

 

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