Myanmar: Trekking Around Kyaingtong (Day 1 Part II) [Eng]

After lunch at a pleasant but litter-strewn waterfall, we continued our short trek to an Eng (also known as An, Ann, Enn) village. We’d covered a lot of distance on motorbike, but walking to the villages was on foot.

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The Eng ladies make textiles under their houses using looms with bamboo foot pedals.

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Moving upstairs to the house, I bought some fabric from the girl in who was operating the loom. Her name is Ee-am (although not sure about the spelling) and some photos of her cutting the cloth for me are below.

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This lady also wanted to get in on the photos, so i obliged.

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This is the father in the household. The Eng people are very welcoming. I hope that doesn’t change as tourism increases.

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The Eng are also well known for the black teeth of the women, which is a sign of beauty to them. They chew a lot of betel leaf which, along with other methods, certainly helps get the effect they desire.

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The house filled up because of visitors, and family and friends, young and old, sit together.

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Walking out of the village i stopped to take more photos of another lady making fabric. It’s quite dark under the houses, so i had to blow out the background so she would be correctly exposed.

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Under another house they were sorting out some thread, which they get from the market. On the lower photograph you can see the lady has black teeth, but not from betel. I’ve read they use charcoal from a certain tree bark.

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An experienced guide is pretty much essential to visit tribes such as Eng. They are shy and there is certain etiquette to observe. You will never get the same level of interaction and enjoyment without one.

I am never entirely comfortable taking photographs when visiting hilltribes, so have developed a little set of rules to follow. I take photographs only after all the introductions and some small-talk has been made. I only take photos after asking the guide and members of the household. I try not to photograph for too long, putting the camera down every now and again. I find that some people can like having their photo taken, whilst others are shy. I don’t take photos of anyone who is looking uncomfortable with the camera, and don’t push it.

After visiting the Eng, we made our way down the hillside to deliver some printed photographs to another village. The photos had been taken by tourists on a previous trip, and my guide had printed them for the people. We found the village chief (or chairman), who was presiding at the construction of a room to house a Buddha effigy. His village were practicing both animism as well as Buddhism. The chief was in an excellent mood, perhaps due to the rice wine that he was drinking, and somehow – despite the language barrier – we got on really well. I was admiring the tattoos on his arms, sadly not shown in my photograph, and he told me a story about them through my guide. His tattoos had been made to protect him against harm. However, he found out the hard way that they were not fully working, and now sports a large scar in the centre of his chest where he had been shot. My guide told me he had been shot by slingshot, but the scar looked very big. The chief also told me his age (72) and looked at my palm to read my future. I didn’t quite understand what he had seen, but i got the feeling it was all good news. It was great to meet the chief and have a couple of drinks with him, but the day was getting long so we got back on the motorbike and drive down, past the rice fields, and back to Kyaingtung.

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Before heading off, my guide told me tomorrow would be even better, although a lot more hiking would be required. That sounded good to me 🙂

2 Comments

  1. Paul Taylor

    Great series of images, Peter, especially the portraits. And all that colour! What were you thinking about?

  2. Maxine Caron

    How vivid your photos are in illustrating how the locals live! You’ve managed to take wonderful pictures, with sensitivity regarding the wishes of the villagers. Not a mean feat! Congratulations!
    Where else are you travelling to before returning home?
    Love, Mum.
    XX
    P.S. Keep safe!

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