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8 Good Reasons to do a Photography Tour in South-East Asia

Nowadays, photography tours are available all around the globe from Iceland to Antarctica, from New York to Paris. Because they are focused on photography, they are getting more and  popular among enthusiastic photographers but also beginners  as they combine discovery and learning.

A photography tour is an unique opportunity  to discover a new place in depth, explore locations out of the beaten path, capture beautiful pictures and learn more about your camera.

Photography tours are available in many  destinations in South-East Asia such as Siem Reap, gateway of the temples of Angkor (Cambodia), Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi  (Vietnam), Yangon (Myanmar), Bali (Indonesia), Chiang Mai (Thailand).

For this post,  we came up with  8 good reasons to why you should consider taking part in  a photography tour during your  next holidays in South-East Asia

1.Improve your photography skills

Even seasoned  sport or wedding photographers are likely to improve their photography skills in a photo tour. As South East Asia locations are diverse, many opportunities will arise and some of them outside your comfort zone: it can be either capturing paddy field landscapes, ancient temples or  busy food markets in the morning light.

vietnam photography tour

Rice harvest at sunset in Hoi An Vietnam

 

local market cambodia photography

Local market in the morning in Siem Reap Cambodia

 

2. Enjoy people photography

When living  in South-East Asia we often take for granted that people photography is  easy to do. In the West, due to privacy issues it is almost impossible except  during big public events. In  Asia,  people  play the game and even sometime  ask you to take pictures of them:)

 

vietnam photography tour

Cute elderly couple in Hoi An Vietnam

 

smiling and smoking Cambodian man

Worker taking a break in a knife workshop in Siem Reap Cambodia

 

market siem reap

Two Cambodian women selling betel leaves in a local market in Siem Reap Cambodia

 

3- Discover  a country with a different angle

During  a photo tour , you will be guided by a photographer who is always looking for new places and has been living in the area for many months or many years. This considerable asset  will allow  you to have access to some locations out of the beaten path which often are not available during  a “normal” tour. Often,  the photographer has develop some relations with locals, speak some of the language and this will be valuable in people photography. You might have access also to remote locations with tribes or be the witness some local Buddhist ceremonies.

 

siem reap photography tour kids running countryside

Kids plating in paddy fieds in Siem Reap Cambodia

 

 

 

Buddhist ceremony in a local monastery

 

tatoo women myanmar photography tour

Face-tattooed women in a remote village of Myanmar

 

4- Test the limits of your photography equipment

Sometime, at the end of a tour, it happens that some  guests decide to upgrade their camera system or buy new lenses.   If you have a old camera system or a entry level camera, you will test the limit of your equipment: shooting a low lights with moving subjects during  some festivals or in markets with dimmed lights. You might no get also the nice bokeh you were expecting in your portraits.   Common purchases are wide angle lenses to do architecture shots or a portrait lense.

 

angkor wat circumambulation

Khmer family going around the main tower of Angkor Wat temple

 

angkor wat photography tours night

Angkor Wat under thousand of stars

 

5- Meet like-minded people

 

If you take part in a photography tour  with a small group of people especially for few days,  it is likely that you will a blast together, keep in touch and maybe even do another trip together in the future. For many people,  a photo tour remains the highlight of their trip in Asia.

 

 

countryside sunrise photographers

 

 

6- For beginners,  a  quick way to improve your photography

 

Many people start learning  photography by taking theoretical courses in a classroom with little or no practice. During a photography tour, a lot of  the time is spent on hands-on practice and because of on many different situations encountered during the  day (sunrise/sunset, low light, portraits,architecture shots), you are most likely to make long lasting improvement on your photography. You will look after very differently at the triangle of exposure:)

 

silk farm puok cambodia

Silk farm in Siem Reap Cambodia

 

sun star bamboo forest

Bamboo forest with shining sun in Siem Reap Cambodia

 

 

7- Get to the best locations  with the best light

 

Photography is all about light and when exploring a  new place, knowing  the best photographic  spots with the best light  is very difficult even after some prior  extensive research online.  Depending on the destination (cities, archeological parks, national parks), it can take months to know the best shooting locations and the best angles. Even if seasons are not marked so much in South-East Asia, there is an impact  photography.  In Angkor Wat temple for example, the path of the sun is drastically different between June and December making  shots very different depending on the season.

During the monsoon,   your photography leader will  guide you around the locations  to get those nice reflection shots.

 

Panoramic view of Bayon temple in Angkor Thom Cambodia with water reflection. Bayon temple was built late 12th century by Jayavarman VII.

 

angkor wat sunrise reflection

 

devata carvings in Angkor Wat

Beautiful devatas carvings in the temple of Angkor Wat Siem Reap Cambodia at sunrise

 

 

8- Go back home with great pictures

Because you have being in the right locations  with the best  light, and had guidance during your shots, you will be sure  to go  back home with  the best pictures of your holidays. Why not make a coffee table book of your best pictures to show your friends and plan together your next photographic adventures?

 

photo book Cambodia photography tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Fun Facts to Know About Angkor Wat Temple

Angkor Wat temple, architectural masterpiece of the Khmer Empire, situated near Siem Reap in North-western Cambodia is one of the most visited temple in the world (more than 2 million visitors in 2016). Here are 10 fun facts below about Angkor Wat temple.

 

1. The central tower of Angkor Wat is aligned with sunrise twice a year in March and September during the winter and spring equinox.

angkor wat sunrise spring equinox photography tours

Angkor Wat sunrise Spring equinox (March 2016)

2. The artificial moat surrounding the temple provides stability to the structure by keeping constant the humidity of the sandy ground below.

3. Contrary to the other Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is facing West.

monks angkor wat temple

4. Angkor Wat counts about 1700 delicate carvings of topless celestial dancers called Devatas.

apsara angkor wat

5. The first pictures of Angkor Wat were taken in 1866 by John Thomson.

6. Angkor Wat was during the 12th century the largest city on Earth with an estimated population of nearly 1,000,000.

7. Angkor Wat has four entrances but only the west and the east are accessible.

angkor wat temple towers

8. Angkor Wat was built as heaven on earth with its fives towers representing Mont Meru and its moat the ocean.

angkor wat temple towers

9. Since 2013, you can visit the entire temple complex of Angkor Wat from your smartphone using Google Street View.

google map angkor wat temple

10. Angkor Wat central sanctuary is made of an iron core (coming from laterite, a porous stone containing iron oxide).

laterite angkor

Dragon Monks of Cambodia

cambodia buddhism

While leading  a photography tour with one of my guest in the Cambodian countryside,  we  unexpectedly stumbled upon a unusual Buddhist ceremony at a local pagoda: many families were there busy preparing offering and several young Cambodian boys with shaved heads were wearing colorful dresses and make-up. One of them was actually crying.

We learned later that this 2-day ceremony was  inspired by the Dragon Monk Legend:  a long time ago, a dragon (Neak in Khmer language) who took the form of a man   was ordained monk by Buddha. While taking a nap, the monk changed back to dragon and the trick was discovered. The legend lived until this day as the ceremony of the dragon is taking place when a Cambodian man wants to become a monk either for few years or longer.

We were lucky to be the only outsiders taken pictures of this ceremony  of the 9 monks  to be ordained. Future monks had  their head and eyebrows shaved and were dressed up with the with a colorful sampot (an ancient long traditional saron)  and a lace top along with some jewellery. They also applied lipstick to make themselves more beautiful, something which can be seen  in the temples of Angkor done by locals on some Buddha and Devata statues.

At one point of the ceremony, beautiful horses were  brought in and  monks rode  them to take part of a procession going back to the city few miles away. Some women carried colorful boxes containing the robe of the monks  that they will be wearing the  next day.

When back from the city, a large crowd did a circumambulation (3 times) before entering the pagoda where the monks were been ordained by higher monks.

 

If you are visiting Siem Reap and want to document this  special Buddhist ceremony please get in touch with us.

cambodia monks Buddha

Dragon monks praying Buddha

monk pagoda cambodia

Dragon monk in a colorful pagoda

 

A soon to be ordained monk adjusting his colorful sampot

 

Khmer family dressing session in pagoda

 

Dragon monk wearing a pink sampot

dragon monk cambodia

Young dragon monk wearing a lace top outfit

 

dragon monk cambodia

Dragon monk posing  with his offerings

 

cambodia monk sampot

Dragon monk dressed with  a sampot in the monastery

 

monk kneeling praying

The nine to be ordained monks kneeling and praying

 

Elderly Cambodian women at the Dragon ceremony

 

Elderly Cambodian woman in front of a colorful pagoda mural

 

colorful box monk robe cambodia

Colorful box containing the robe of a future monk

 

Procession going from the pagoda to the city on foot

 

buddhist monk processing cambod

Dragon monk riding a colorful horse on his way to the city

 

buddhist monk processing cambodia

Dragon monk riding a colorful horse on his way to the city

 

cambodian monk photography tour

Monk waiting by the pagoda’s entrance

 

Young Cambodian kid with colorful paint on his face

 

Crowd gathered in front of the pagoda for the final ceremony

6 Top Reasons to Use Your Smartphone for Travel Photography

smartphone photography tips

Smartphone cameras have come a long way with a dramatic increase in picture quality the past few years, so much that it made point and shoot cameras almost obsolete and that smartphone photography is a now a category of its own. The latest smartphone cameras have high megapixels sensor (20+ megapixels) and new features as dual lenses to reproduce the bokeh effect.

Huawei P10 Plus, the last flagship model of the brand features a main camera with 20 MP Monochrome and a 12 MP RGB, F1.8 sensors. IPhone 7 Plus has two 12 MP sensors with 28/56 mm equivalent focal length (F1.8/2.8 aperture).

We will not discuss in this post the quality of smartphones but rather their use in travel photography.

1. Take snapshots

The most obvious of course: sometime when we travel especially we do not have always carry our camera but most of he time we carry a smartphone in our pocket. I wish I had taken the shot below with my Canon though:)

yangon photography walk rangoon burma

Group of young nuns carrying alms bowl in the streets of Yangon Myanmar (Huawei P9 Lite)

 

yangon street photography

Smoking Burmese cigar in the streets of Yangon ( (Huawei P9 Lite)

 

Your camera phone will be useful to document your trip (for example take a picture of a train ticket or a street sign) and will save you space on your memory cards.

 

2 – Keep a low profile

In travel photography especially when taking portraits or life scenes, the approach is quite critical to get the best shots as possible. I have found that sometime a smartphone can help “breaking the ice”: after the subject being more relaxed, they can be less intimated by your big camera.

 

yangoon street photography

Young Burmese boy wearing thanaka in the streets of Yangon (Huawei P9 Lite)

 

rangoon street photography

Young Burmese boy wearing thanaka in the streets of Yangon (Canon 750D).

Some places like museums forbid the use of a camera in their premises, so if you want to document your visit, a smartphone camera is very handy. Do not forget to deactivate the flash and shoot in manual mode (set the ISO) when you shoot indoors.

 

3- Geotag your pictures

You might not have a GPS chip in your camera so taking few pictures on location with your smartphone will help you later to document your trip and come back later on location especially in areas where Google Maps do not have data.

 

4- Look at different angles, take difficult shots

Before getting out your camera from your bag, it is sometime useful to look at composition with your smartphone to find new angles. It is useful to know at this stage what is the 35 mm equivalent of your smartphone camera: Huawei P9 lite is equivalent to a 27 mm so it will make sense to use a full frame with a 24 mm lens for example.

 

As they are relatively small and light smarphone can be placed in places where a camera cannot fit. An example bel0w of a staircase in yangon where my DSLR could not go through the grid.

old staircase yangon myanmar

A old staircase in Yangon captured with by Huawei P9 Lite

 

 

5 – Promote your work on social media

Nowadays even in some remote locations in South-East Asia you will be surprised to get a 3G/4G signal, the data package are as well very affordable and you can have a number and several GB of data for less than USD 10. On top of that with powerful editing application such as Snapseed with which you can edit and even make promotional material. This alone justify to take your smartphone when you are on a photo expedition.

If did not bring your laptop during your trip and that your camera has Wi-Fi &NFC functions you can upload low resolution pictures to your smartphone, edit them with Snapseed and share them online.

 

 

6 – Take panoramic pictures

 

When shooting panoramic pictures, I tend to use most of the time my smartphone camera instead of my Canon 5DMKII as it lacks a panorama mode . It is best to take panoramic shots with the camera positioned vertically rather to horizontal to have a ratio close to 16:9. If you manage to include a person in your shot like o the picture below it is even better.

Taking a quick panoramic shot is also a way to check if its is worth taking it with a DSLR and go through the tedious task of stitching pictures.

 

Maha Bandoola Garden Yangon

Panoramic shot of Maha Bandoola Garden in Yangon city center (Huawei P9 Lite)

 

panorama angkor thom cambodia

Panoramic view of one of the gate of Angkor Thom in Cambodia (Huawei P9 Lite)

The lost Temples of Mrauk-U in Myanmar

burma photography tour

Mrauk-U is a relatively unknown and probably the most underrated archeological site in South-East Asia. It is located in the state of Rakhine in western Myanmar (Burma). Rakhine state is a narrow strip of land bordered by the Bay of Bengal on the west and by Bangladesh on the north.

The landscape around Mrauk-U is quite unique as the city sits on a valley with numerous mounds and interconnected creeks, moats, canals and artificial lakes.

Founded in 1430 A.D, Mrauk-U became after Launggret the center of the powerful Arakan Empire for more than 300 years until 1785 and an important cultural and commercial hub.

Mrauk-U, named the “Golden City” by early Europeans (Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch) traders and missionaries was an important center of trade for elephants, rice and other commodities. It is also known as the fortress city due to its 30 kilometers of fortifications built around it.  Little Bagan is another name because of  Mrauk-U.

Mrauk-U archaeological site is centered on the old palace and divided in four main groups: western, eastern, southern and northern, the latter being the most important. You can buy a 5000 Kyats pass (less than USD 4) valid for a a week at the Shittaung Pagoda.

Among the  famous temples are Koe-Thaung (also called the little Borobudur), Shittaung (the temple of the 80,000 Buddhas), Andaw Thein (it contains a tooth relic of the Buddha coming from Sri Lanka), Koe-Thaung (the temple of the 90,000 Buddhas). A story carried by locals says it was once 1552 temples in Mrauk-U so many are left to be discovered.

The temples of Mrauk-u are not as impressive as the ones in Bagan, but their beauty lies within: you can stroll in their  labyrinths for hours and see thousands of Buddhas and beautifully preserved carvings. You can have also many temples by yourself and with some tenacity found some  which are not on the map. As locals are living within the ruins, you will have many opportunities to interact with them and take beautiful portraits.

In his last visit to Mrauk-U in december 2016, Kofi Annan (who sits on the advisory commission on Rakhine state) strongly advocated for Mrauk-U’ UNESCO World Heritage Status.

There is no direct flight from Yangon at the moment and the construction of the new airport is being halted due the lack of funding. The most scenic way to get to Mrauk-U is to take a 4 to 5 hours ferry  on the Kaladan river from the city of Sittwe. Local buses are also available and the roads are pretty decent. With only 4,000 visitors in the temples of Mrauk-U in 2016, you are sure to have most of the temples for yourself.

If you enjoyed exploring the other archeological sites in South-East Asia (Angkor, Bagan, Borodudur,Sukhothai, Ayutthaya) it is time to go to Mrauk-U before it gets its fame back. Temples are best explored by bicycle or by foot especially the ones in the Northern group, but to move between all of them  it is recommended to hire  a private transport.

The temples of Mrauk-U are one of the highlights of our next 12-day photography expedition in Myanmar in October 2017, do not miss it!

 

 

kaladan river mrauk u

On the way to Mrauk-U on the Kaladan river

 

mrauku temples sunset

Sunset with some of the temples of Mrauk-U

 

mrauk u temples photography

Beautiful hilly landscape of Mrauk U

 

mrauku temple rakhine state

One of the many beautiful temples of Mrauk-U

 

seated buddha mrauk u

Enigmatic Buddha in the temples of Mrauk U

 

mrauku temple buddha

Buddha statues inside Andaw Thein temple

 

mrauku temple carving

Stone carving in Shittaung Pagoda

 

shittaung temple photography tour

Beautiful carved wall inside Shittaung temple

 

koe thaung temple mrauku

The amazing interior of Koe-Thaung temple

 

burmese girls thanaka

Young burmese girls in the temples of Mrauk-U with Thanaka

 

silhouette woman mrauku temples

Local woman going back home at the sunset

The enigmatic temple of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay

preah khan kompong svay photography

Preah Khan of Kompong Svay (not be mistaken with Preah Khan temple  in Angkor), also called Prasat Bakan by the locals,  is a remote archeological site located 100 km from Siem Reap as the crow flies  in Preah Vihear province at the eastern end  on the ancient royal road from Angkor.

Preah Khan  is the single biggest temple complex built during the Khmer Empire occupying an impressive footprint of about 22 kilometers square, 11 times larger than Angkor Wat and 2 times larger  than the city of Angkor Thom. Because of its remote location  (more than 200 km one way  from Siem Reap including about 70 km of unpaved road) it  receives  less than 10 visitors daily.

The layout of the temple is unique compared  to the other sites  in Angkor as it is oriented northeast. It has been proposed that the temple is aligned with the raising sun during thee summer solstice.

A  large baray of 3 km long  lies on the east with a temple called Preah Thkol in the middle similar to the West Mebon in Angkor.  It was built between the 10th and 13th centuries in  different stages during the reigns of Kings Suryavarman I, II and Jayavarman VII. The influence of  Jayarvaman VII  is clearly visible in  Prasat Preah Stun which has with a four-faced tower similar to the Bayon temple (see picture below).

 

Rediscovery

The rediscovery of Preah Khan is credited to French explorer and artist  Louis Delaporte who lead a expedition  there in 1873. At the end of their visit they took many statues which are now at the Guimet museum in Paris : among them, a naga  garuda and an elephant statue from  Preah Damrei (see picture below).

Because of its remote location and lack of security,  the site was badly sacked during the 1980’s and 1990’s and even more recently in 2003. Even so, some  beautiful pieces like doors and lintels are still there. The causeway crossing the moat (mostly dry like in Beng Mealea) has many garuda carvings on both sides.

Exploring the site can be quite difficult because of the dense vegetation there and the absence of clear paths.

 

Recent  archeological missions

The Cambodian Archaeological Lidar Initiative (CALI)  known for his groundbreaking discovery of the first Khmer empire city, Mahendravarpata, in Phnom Kulen and  in 2014 did a survey of  Preah Khan in 2015 and confirmed the previous layout  of the temple. They confirmed that Preah Khan was an important iron smelting center at the height of the Khmer Empire. 90 structures were identified within the four enclosures of the temple.

Another project called The Two Buddhist Towers  lead by a multidisciplinary team of researchers (UCLA, University of Illinois, University College London, EFEO,…) aims to study the transition from Mahāyāna to Theravāda Buddhism at Preah Khan did some excavations in 2015 and 2016. Three Chinese coins dating from the 10th and 11th  century were found confirming the importance of his  site during the Khmer Empire.

LIDAR preah khan kompong svay

LIDAR image of  Preah Khan of Kompong Svay

 

Main entrance of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay

 

preah khan kompong svay photo tour

Buddha niche at Preah Khan Kompong Svay

 

Atmospheric entrance in Preah Kompong Svay

 

Garudas below the main bridge of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay

 

luis delaporte preah khan kompong svay

The same garuda bridge by Louis Delaporte in 1873

 

Remain of a lion statue

 

preah khan kompong svay photography tour

Laterite towers in Preah Khan Kompong Svay

 

 

preah khan kompong svay photography tour

Beautiful door at the main temple of Preah Khan Kompong Svay

 

preah khan kompong svay photography tour

Temple ruin in preah khan kompong svay second enclosure

 

 

preah khan kompong svay photography tour

Temple ruin in preah khan kompong svay second enclosure

 

preah khan kompong svay photography tour

One of the two elephant statues remaining statue at Preah Damrei. Louis Delaporte took one back to France in 1873.

 

 

preah khan kompong svay photography tour

Bayon like temple in Preah Khan Kompong Svay

 

preah khan kompong svay photography tour

Beautiful Naga with Garuda at Preah Damrei

 

Tree growing on one of the temples of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay

 

preah khan kompong svay photography tour

Devata at Preah Damrei

 

preah khan kompong svay photography

Preah Stun , a surprising Bayon look alike temple in the jungle

 

 

 

Preah Khan of Kompong Svay is best visited during the dry season when the unpaved road is in fairly good condition.  It is a 1-day trip  from Siem Reap  that can be combined with a visit to Koh Ker or Beng Mealea. A 2-day trip with a visit to Preah Vihear can also be arranged. If you like to do a private photography tour of this enigmatic and beautiful  temple, please contact me.

Fine Art Gallery Cambodia Myanmar Vietnam India

fine art gallery asia

A selection of our best pictures from  Cambodia, Myanmar, India and Vietnam are now available as Fine Art Prints via the e-commerce platform Fine Art America.

You can choose from a large selection of papers: matte, glossy, metallic and the pictures will be send to you in a tube roll. You can as well order wooden framed prints with a large selection of finishing.

 

Order now your Fine Art Print at Angkor Photography Tours Fine Art Gallery

 

 

siem reap photo gallery Cambodia

Cambodia photo gallery

 

Myanmar fine art gallery

 

hoi photo gallery

World Heritage Historic Houses of Hoi An Central Vietnam

hoi an old city houses

Hoi An is a charming and picturesque little city  located near the coastline in Central Vietnam. Once a major trading port between the 16th and 18th centuries, it managed to retain to this day some of his architectural heritage. The old city spreads on  30 hectares and  is listed on the UNESCO Word Heritage since 1999.

Although many of the 1000 old  houses in Hoi An  are now converted to tailor, souvenir, coffee shops and restaurants due the booming of both international and national tourism (more than 2 million tourist in 2016), an handful of preserved houses are open to the public. To  visit them, you need to buy a 120 000 VND ticket (about USD 5),   valid for only 5 world heritage sites. This post lists all  heritage houses you can visit with one pass.

I would recommend  to start your visit around 8 am to avoid  group tours that can spoil your experience and make it difficult to take pictures. The advantage also is to be able to use a tripod as the interior of some houses is really dark. Except for the ancient house, each site is  only few  minutes apart by walk.

 

Tan Ky house (101 Nguyen Thai Hoc St)

Named after  its builder Tan Ky, this house  is the  most popular heritage house in Hoi An, also the first one to be listed on the national heritage of Vietnam in 1985. Built in the late 18th century, its  architecture is   a combination of   Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese styles. Two entrances are available,  one facing the river but unfortunately the first  floor is not open to the general public. It is not the best house to take interior pictures as often crowded with groups.

A short five  minutes introduction is given but some members of the founding family  before you can wander around. On one wall, water levels due to floods are recorded, the last one being  in December 2016 which lasted for 4 days.

Tan ky old house hoi an photography tours

Interior of Tan Ky old house in Hoi An

 

tan ky old house hoi an

Old bed displayed in Tan Ky old house

 

Phung Hung House (4 Nguyen Thi min Khai St)

Not far from the famous Japanese covered bridge,  Phung Hung is a two-stories private house built in 1780 with a combination of  Japanese (four-sided roof), Chinese and Vietnamese styles. A  balcony with a nice vintage on the street below and on the room below is accessible. A small tour with few explanations is given to you when you enter the premises. It  is one the best house to  take interior pictures because it is quite large and bright. A shop selling embroideries is located on the second floor.

 

Phung Hung old house Hoi An

Interior of Phung Hung old house in Hoi An

 

Phung-Hung heritage house house Hoi An photowalk

Interior of Phung Hung old house in Hoi An

 

Phung-Hung heritage house house Hoi An

Interior of Phung Hung old house in Hoi An

 

 Quan Thang  house (77 Tran Phu St)

Built by a Chinese merchant in the late 17th century, Quan Thang  is a one-story shop-house with some interesting architectural details especially the teak walls. No explanations about the house was given by family during the visit. The back of the house is private so photographic opportunities are quite  limited.

 

Quan Thang Hoi An photowalk

Interior of Quan Thang old house

 

Ho Chi Minh portrait

Portrait of Ho Chi Minh in Quan Thang house

 

quan thang house ancestor portrait

Portrait of an ancestor at Quan Thang house altar

 

Duc An old house (129 Tran Phu St)

Duc An is  an heritage house built in 1850 with some timber carvings. The house was a bookstore at the end of the 19th century and Chinese   medicine dispensary  during the 20th century. Unfortunately a souvenir shop is now located on the back of the house thus restricting photography. There was no guide during the visit.

 

 

Duc An old house Hoi An

Interior of Duc An old house

 

Duc An Hoi An photography tour

Interior of Duc An heritage house in Hoi An

 

Duc An medicine dispensary

Old medicine dispensary in Duc An old house

 

Tran Family Chapel (21 Le Loi St)

Tran chapel is a beautiful house built   in 1804 by  Tran Tu Nhac  with purpose  to worship his ancestors. Architecture reflects Japanese (five  columns), Chinese (turtle roof) and Vietnamese (bow and arrow)  styles. The house has three entrances, a beautiful waiting room leading to the atmospheric ancestors’altar with stone tablets. A shop is located  at the back with some interesting Yin Yang coins and few Piastres from the Indochina period. The guided visit was one of the best of all the houses.

 

tran chapel family hoi an photography

Waiting room in the Tran Chapel family

 

tran chapel family hoi an photography

Waiting room in the Tran Chapel family

 

Tran Tu Nhac, the founder of the Tran Chapel

 

Ancestors of the Tran family

 

floor tiles heritage house hoi an

Beautiful floor tiles in Tran Chapel family

 

than chapel Hoi An photowalk

Detail of a drape in Tran Chapel Hoi An

 

yin yang coins Hoin An

Yin Yang coins in Tran Chapel Hoi An

 

 

 

Ancient House (104 Thai Phien St)

One of my favorite heritage house situated in the northern part  of the old town. Built  250 years ago  on one floor with 4 rooms  it has an unique  Vietnamese architecture. A cluster of beautiful red lanterns are hanging in the entrance room and carved pillars are well preserved.  Hosts are  quite friendly and invite you for tea and biscuits to reply to questions you might have. Entrance is free so if  if you do not want to buy anything from the shop,  a donation box is available. Ancient House receives only few visitors daily so  you are likely to be alone during your visit.

 

ancient house hoi an

Ancient house interior Hoi An

 

ancient house hoi an red lanterns

Red lanterns in ancient house Hoi An

 

carved pillar ancient house hoi an

Beautiful carved pillar in Ancient House

 

red lanterns ancient house

Red lanterns in Hoi An Ancient House

 

ancient house hoi an photowalk

Glass window detail in ancient house Hoi An

 

 

Diep Dong Nguyen house (82 Nguyen Thai Hoc St)

This old house built late 19th century has been converted to a museum displaying ceramics  and furniture. Of particular interest is the wooden facade of the house with no windows. You do not need the old town ticket to visit the premises.

 

Diep Dong Nguyen house Hoi An

The beautiful wooden facade of Diep Dong Nguyen house

 

Diep Dong Nguyen house Hoi An photowalk

Porcelain displayed at Diep Dong Nguyen house

 

Diep Dong Nguyen house Hoi An photo walk

Resident of the house burning incenses for prayer

Old Colonial Architecture in Yangon Myanmar

yangon heritage houses photography tour

Yangon is the city with the highest density of colonial buildings in South East Asia. Known as Rangoon,  it was the capital of Burma between 1824 and 1948 and one of the province of  the British India Empire. It witnessed a rich architectural development during this period  following  different styles: Art Deco, Edwardian, Victorian and British-Burmese.

Many buildings were built for Scottish companies like Burmah oil, Brothers & Co, A. Scott&Co, Messrs Bulloch Brothers & Co to name a few which operated successful businesses in oil,  import/export of  commodities,  shipbuildings, etc…

Natural disasters (the earthquake of 1930, cyclone Nargis in 2008) and the bombings of Word War II inflicted severe damages to the city and many buildings were lost forever.

The isolation of the country for 50 years after the military coup of 1962 did not help. With all these events, it is actually surprising that so many colonial buildings are still standing today. In 2005, many  government offices were moved to the new capital Naypyidaw, about 350 km north of Yangon and definitely closed.

Nowadays,  many large colonial buildings are occupying  downtown,  along Merchand and Strand roads, and  also on Pansodan street. Some of them have been renovated like  Aya bank headquarters, City Hall  or the Strand Hotel, a famous five stars built in 1901.

This photo essay is focusing on the beautiful and neglected  colonial buildings which will either disappear or being restored in the coming years.

Because of safety concerns some places such as  the Pegu Club are not open  to the general  public anymore. Some others, like the secretariat building,  are under  renovation.
Entering a neglected colonial building in Yangon is like taking a time machine and one cannot help wondering  how it was back then when these places were home of powerful trading houses, banks or offices.

Nowadays, small business offices are sometime occupying premises and  bring some life to these places. Some private buildings have interiors in fairly  good condition and can be accessed after of course seeking the authorization from the owner.

The state of disrepair of some buildings is  such that trees start growing on the walls and entire structures have collapsed.

You can spend hours wandering  in the streets of Yangon looking for unlocked buildings. It is not uncommon while exploring these locations that a friendly local gives you a bit of history about the places, they understand their potential to attract tourists interested in colonial architecture.

Founded in 2012, the Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT), has for goal  to identify and preserve  colonial architecture  in Yangon. YHT installed blue plaques on buildings with historical significance to raise awareness among the public, the first one was installed in 2014 at the City Hall.

 

In 2017, Yangon is at a crossroad and time will tell if authorities in charge manage to save this unique architectural heritage in South-East Asia.

 

 

Old staircase yangon photowalk

Defunct elevator in dilapidated colonial building

 

Defunct elevator in fairly good condition

 

Neglected colonial building from 1905 and its gatekeeper.

 

Apartments building in Yangon downtown

 

Relics of yangoon

Dilapidated colonial building in downtown Yangon

 

Relics of yangoon

Beautiful wooden  staircase in a private building

 

Relics of yangon

Neglected staiway in a colonial building

 

Tenants walking down a beautiful rusty stairway

 

Dark staircase in an abandoned colonial building

 

staircase yangon photo walk

Crumbling staircase in an old building

 

Beautiful wooden stairway in private building

 

Some families are still living in their colonial homes

 

Pickerings elevator rangoon

Amazingly, Pickerings company still exist today and is still manufacturing elevators

 

Beautiful metal staircase with rich pattern

 

Details of ceiling at the Inland Water Office

 

yangon photo walk old building

Beautiful old colonial building interior

 

Heritage photowalk yangon

Metal fence outside a colonial building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Vietnam Hoi An Photography Tour

Join me and Etienne Bossot for a 3-day photography tour and workshop around Hoi An Vietnam on 28,29,30th April 2017. This is a fantastic opportunity to discover Central Vietnam, improve your photography skills and come back home with great pictures. During these three days, we will focus on landscape and people photography with three sunrises scheduled. Besides Hoi An, other locations include Lango Co bay and Tam Giang lagoon.
A night photography session in the colorful city of Hoi An is also part of this 3-day workshop with some sessions to review your pictures.

This workshop, limited to 10 people, is priced at the competitive rate of 385 US dollars with the following included: accommodation / transportation / all meals/ tips to the locals.

To get to Hoi An, the fastest way is to fly to Da Nang airport which has as direct flights from Siem Reap, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Please send an e-mail to info(at)picsofasia(dot)com for any inquiries and bookings.

To get a better idea of the photographic opportunities during this tour, please have a look at the pictures taken by Etienne Bossot in the slideshow below:



Photography Holidays

If you do a photo tour with us in Angkor, you are entitled to a 10 % discount for a photo tour in Hoi An in Central Vietnam. Just mention the reference “sent by Angkor!” during your online booking at Hoi An photo tours

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Angkor Photography Tours - Siem Reap - Cambodia

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laurent.dambies@angkorphotographytours.com

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