Mawlamyine, or Moulmein, is to our minds one of the most photogenic towns in Burma. The town’s fantastic location boasts ancient temples overlooking dramatic limestone crags to the east and the picturesque islands and seascapes of the Salween Estuary to the west, and the locals lack the shyness you so often see among those living in remote villages, but they’re not blase like the Inle traders can be. Getting your camera out in a Mawlamyine market is almost guaranteed to have the residents posing, collapsing in heaps of giggles, calling their mates over or crowding around your LCD screen. Here are a few of our favourite people shots from the Mon State capital.
The above might not have been one of the prettiest streets in Mawlamyine but it was certainly one of the friendliest. We reckon almost half the inhabitants invited us in for tea.
Yellow thanaka paste mixed with turmeric seems to be a local specialty. Note the wide brimmed, rainy season hat made from bamboo on nearby Bilu Island.
Tuk tuks are still something of a luxury in Mawlamyine, so a lot of market deliveries are still made the hard way. There’s no bubble wrap either and the packaging — presumably for fruit or veg — is merely leaves.
Flowers are abundant at street markets; they’re popular as hair accessories among Burmese girls and women, and are offered at shrines and temples.
We were invited in for lunch by this super friendly Mawlamyine family. Son and mum with grandmother on the right and her mother behind, whom we were assured was 103 years old.
This young Muslim mother got so excited at actually seeing a tourist up close but also that said tourist actually wanted to photograph her! We will definitely remember to take her a print on our next trip to Mawlamyine.
Just one of the wonderful characters we came across in the Mawlamyine morning market. A good idea for more discreet people photography is to find a spot in a strategically placed tea shop and just watch everything pass you by.
A wonderful smile, stunning eyes and rather more subtle thanaka application from this betel nut vendor in the market. As a busy port, and indeed at one stage British administrative capital of Lower Burma, Mawlamyine has, even by Burmese standards, a particularly rich ethnic mix.
Mawlamyine is a fascinating town, with so many photo opportunities for keen photographers.
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 6th February, 2015.