I've just spent an EPIC eight days exploring the wilds of Myanmar's Naga Self-Administered Zone, and have returned coated in dust and bursting with stories. What people! What landscape! What an adventure!
I've met shamans, hunters, monks, priests, rebel commanders and village chiefs - listening to their stories over the gurgle of opium pipes in huts high in the mountains. Life isn't easy up there, and none of the villages I stayed in had the things we take for granted: electricity, mobile signal, shops, healthcare, a proper road. In one village, the children's bellies were distended from malnutrition and the chief told us they'd experienced severe food shortages for the last five years. But the people were still welcoming - if not very shy of outsiders - and quick to return a smile.
I'll be posting more images over the coming weeks, but for now here's a wonderful Kasan Naga I met. An impish old lady with betel-blackened teeth and a neck hung with beads, she erupted into laughter after every sentence. Her life can't be easy and, despite her age, she was off to work in the fields for the day, yet she still found humour in everything. What a lesson, and what a reminder to be thankful for all we have in life - because my goodness we have it easy.
Big thanks to @maximilianhorsley of Arakan Travel for his advice on how to travel this little-explored region.