Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
In Bagan, Myanmar, man applies gold foil to the inside of a lacquerware cup

Click on title to view photo in large format: Applying gold foil on laquerware at a factory in Bagan, Myanmar. The painstaking process of making lacquerware is done completely by hand, whether crafting a tiny cup or an entire dining room table with seating for 12. This factory in Bagan is one of many where visitors can watch the process from start to finish, beginning with Read More

Traditional fisherman with cone net on Inle Lake, Myanmar

Click on title to view photo in large format: Traditional fisherman on Inle Lake, Myanmar, balances on one leg at the bow of his wooden boat while rowing with a paddle tied to his other leg. The lake is so shallow for much of the year that fishermen must stand up to navigate through the thick vegetation that blooms beneath the surface. These fishermen are a dying breed, as many are using more modern fishing techniques. Despite modern techniques, however, fishermen are finding it difficult to Read More

Shop owner at the Scott Market in Yangon, Myanmar, applies traditional Thanakha paste to her face. Made by grinding branches of the Thanakha tree into a powder and then adding water, the paste is used as a protection from the sun and as an enhancement to beauty

Click on title to view photo in large format: Shop owner at the Scott Market in Yangon, Myanmar, applies traditional Thanakha paste to her face. Made by grinding branches of the Thanakha tree into a powder and then adding water, the paste is used as a protection from the sun and as an enhancement to beauty. Though men are also occasionally seen wearing Thanakha, it is more commonly used by Read More

The soles of my feet were black as tar by the time I’d made a circuit of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Fortunately, the folks at Viking River Cruises were waiting for us with wet wipes. I cleaned and massaged my aching feet without complaint, for the famous Buddhist shrine, which requires visitors to remove their shoes and socks before entering, turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip.

The gold-plated Shwedagon Pagoda, surrounded by some of the 2,000 shrines, halls, and stupas that spread across the site

The gold-plated Shwedagon Pagoda, surrounded by some of the 2,000 shrines, halls, and stupas that spread across the site

Today, Shwedagon Pagoda is the most dominant landmark in Yangon, especially since the 325-foot high spire, along with scores of temples, ordination halls, and shrines that surround it, crowns a prominent hill in the city center. Initially, however, it was a much more modest structure. Although archaeologists estimate it was originally built by the Mon people between the 8th and 10th centuries, legend insists that the Pagoda was built 2,600 years ago during the life of Gautama Buddha, in order to hold eight of his hairs. Through the centuries, the pagoda suffered periods of decline and earthquakes, followed by rebuilding. With each iteration, it grew larger, taller, and more extravagant, eventually reaching its present height. Read More

Sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda. As the sun dips, this most famous of Buddhist sites in Yangon, Myanmar, begins to glow as if illuminated from within.

Click on title to view photo in large format: Sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda. As the sun dips, this most famous of Buddhist sites in Yangon, Myanmar, begins to glow as if illuminated from within. The 325-foot high pagoda is said to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas. It sits on a base of gold bricks and is entirely covered with gold plates. Additionally, the crown is studded with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies, including Read More

Chilies and spices of all kinds are sold at the Dala market, a small village across the river from downtown Yangon, Myanmar

Click on title to view photo in large format: Chilies and spices of all kinds are sold at the Dala market, located across the river from downtown Yangon, Myanmar. The village of Dala is accessed by a pair of ferries that run continuously throughout the day, with the trip taking about 15 minutes. Upon arrival, any of the dozens of rickshaw drivers Read More