For the last 4 years, we have been visiting Pindaya every year on our photography tour and workshop to Myanmar. I first discovered the area a little by accident, when, my tour guide at the time suggested that we do a quick stop there, on our way between Kalaw and Inle Lake.
On that day I took a photo that still, today, remains one of my favourites.
That suggestion completely blew my mind, and we have been coming back to Pindaya ever since. I even modified the tour itinerary to allow us to spend a couple of days in the area. Here is why.
Pindaya has a very good indoor market that happens every 5 days, so make sure your time you visit right. By the way, you can find all the market days in Myanmar on this website.
Pindaya market is a mixture of indoor and outdoor areas, where the light can be very interesting until late morning. You can easily spend hours wandering the narrow alleys and meeting the people.
The fields around Pindaya
Because we are always travelling to Myanmar after the rainy season (October) I have always found the area very green and lush. There are a lot of different crops growing among the rolling hills, creating patches of colours. This offers stunning landscape photo opportunities.
But as you know me already, I won’t feel satisfied with a few nice landscapes. What makes the area so excellent in my opinion is because of the human activity we can find in the fields. The Pao people are often found harvesting rice, among other crops, and this is believed one of the most photogenic rice harvest technics I have ever encountered in Asia.
What the Pao people do, after having cut the rice plant, is that they stand in a semi-circle, hitting the straws against rocks so the rice flies away. Because they often stand in a semi-circle, it makes it ideal to photograph the action and separate all elements.
While they are hitting the rice plants against the rocks, a woman or two then walk around with a broom and sweep the rice back together, while removing the excess of straw. That allows us to frame the people hitting the rice with a dynamic foreground.
The difficult part, though, is that everything is moving very fast. The women sweeping the floor are moving fast and in order to keep them as a foreground, we need to be flexible and ready to adjust the composition. This is one of the best photographic exercises I have been faced with when teaching photography.
The minority villages around Pindaya
After exploring the fields, we can witness all the people heading back to their villages. While these are quiet during the day, as most people are busy working in the fields, they get very animated later in the afternoon once people are back from work.
The people there live in traditional wooden houses and you can often meet them on the edge of the villages, doing their daily work.
Pindaya lake and local life
Walking around Pindaya lake early morning is also a great experience. Actually, walking around the lake at any time of the day is a great experience! There you can witness locals going on with their laundry, bathing or just playing in the water.
Whether you travel to Pindaya for photography or simply as a traveler, you won’t be disappointed by the beauty of this place. Make sure you spend enough time and try to get lost through the rolling hills, home to the friendly Pao people.