We visited several villages along the way, one by bicycle rickshaw, another by bull-drawn taxi, and the others by foot or boat.
Access to clean water is often a challenge to these villagers, especially during the dry season. Often there is a central water supply in the village – a lake, cistern, or well, and residents must haul it daily to their homes. Below you see villagers using a lake where access is limited to 2 hours each day. We were told that if a lake had lily pads, then the water was drinkable.
At this village, villagers load up water from a central well.
Traditional buildings – homes, barns, etc., are made of bamboo. They are built about 4 feet above ground to prevent snakes getting inside. Metal roofs are beginning to replace thatch because it is better in keeping the rain out during monsoon season.
The bright yellow fields in the distance are blooming sesame plants and poinsettias are in the foreground.
This woman is chopping food for the cattle, that is if the goats don’t eat it all first!
Everywhere that we went, the villagers were very welcoming and didn’t mind at all if we photographed them. In fact, some seemed even eager for us to snap their picture.
In one village we came upon a wedding. Marriages are finalized when parents announce to the village that their sons and daughters are married. There are no formal ceremonies. Then the families put on a day-long celebration and prepare a meal for the entire village. In this case, there were 800 residents in the village! The meal was served in shifts.
The bride and groom greet visitors while sitting in a decorated booth. The custom is for each guest to tie string around the bride and grooms wrists to wish them good fortune as they are joined. We were immediately invited to join the celebration!
We were invited into the groom’s parent’s home for tea and nibbles (potato chips.)
The house was decorated!
Here are some of the other guests. Their clothing is typical of the Pa-O ethnic tribe. They are sitting in front of a house constructed of concrete blocks, which is a material that is gradually replacing bamboo.
After tea, the parents invited us to share in the wedding feast. Four pigs had been slaughtered for the celebration.
We felt very honored to have been treated so warmly by these villagers. We referred to these authentic cultural experiences as the “real deal.” And we had many of them because our guide looked for opportunities to share with us the Burmese way of life.