Poor Myanmar! once again suffering under « the heel » and the guns of the army dictatorship… When I painted there in 2013, the world was full of hope: Aung San Suu Kyi was out of house arrest, people were confident to talk about what it had been like under the generals, and their hopes for a democratic future. Bagan, a World Heritage Site, was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, from the 9th to 13th centuries, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute Myanmar. The King was an enthusiastic convert to Buddhism, imported from Sri Lanka. More than 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains, of which the remains of over 2200 survive, and provide atmospheric painting, particularly at sunrise and sunset. Shoes and hats not allowed on religious sites here either.
Inle Lake was my other magnet, with extensive villages of houses on stilts around the lake, leg-rowing fishermen, and colourful markets. In the dry season, the houses rise high above the shallow lake; in the monsoon season, the water laps their front doors. Painting from a long-tailed boat offered low-angle views of the houses, and enabled market visits.