Yunnan photographer records golden Myanmar during trips
At the end of 2019, Chinese photographer Ai Xiao shot a video coupled with the Myanmar language at the Yangon International Airport right before his return trip from Myanmar.
Ai Xiao comes from the border town of Ruili in west Yunnan’s Dehong prefecture. Travelling to Myanmar many times, he has set foot on the Myanmar cities of Naypyidaw, Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Taunggyi and Dawei. Seeing the beautiful sites, diverse culture, and special buildings, Ai Xiao can’t stop taking photos. And the beautiful photos also record his traveling experiences in Myanmar.
Located near the China-Myanmar border, Ruili is a bustling town with frequent entries and exits. Growing up in the border area, Ai Xiao has heard the word Myanmar daily since childhood. Many Myanmar people also lived Ruili, and by making friends with them Yan has got familiar with the Myanmar customs. But during his trips to Myanmar, Ai Xiao saw the scenery he had never seen before. The country showed him its exotic and mysterious aspects.
In November 2014, Ai Xiao had an interview trip to the Myanmar localities of Bagan, Taunggyi and others. Sitting on the plane from Taunggyi to Bagan, he captured a field with its parts covered by red earth, yellow crop, and green vegetables. Such an idyllic scene was what he had never seen before, reminding him of the cushions in his childhood. His mother used to sew cushions with cloth bits or pieces.
"This field is beautiful, and I will never forget it! If I hadn’t taken the plane, I wouldn't have seen its beauty." Three years later, Ai Xiao went on a vacation, carrying his camera again to Myanmar. Having searched it all the way, he finally found the field in Kalaw. "If hadn’t visited in person, I couldn't have seen the real beauty of the country," said Ai.
In his ensuing trips to Myanmar, Ai Xiao used the lens to record Myanmar's sights, customs and buildings, so that more Chinese people can know about Myanmar, a country of golden pagodas. Seeing his pictures of the Bagan sunset and the U Bein Bridge sunrise, many said they want to travel to Myanmar for the charming golden pagodas. "This is exactly what makes my photos meaningful." Ai said Myanmar is a place worth repeated visits. “While admiring its landscapes and cultural sights, we can learn more about the friendly neighbor country.”
The magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the pagodas in Bagan, the century-old U Bein Bridge, the dazzling Mergui Archipelago... Among the typical Myanmar sights, Ai Xiao most loves the sunrise and sunset at the U Bein Bridge. He often snapshots pedestrians over the bridge: local women with baskets on their heads, tourists who are taking pictures, and lovers cuddling each other.
"At morn or dusk, the sky over the U Bein Bridge is especially charming. It will be dyed red by the sunset. As long as a picture is taken in the backlight, it can show the bridge's shadow." Because of its unique beauty, Ai Xiao fell in love with this bridge and he also shares his travelling experiences. “At times, we may not encounter the red sky. If we want to create glow-like scene, we can adjust the color temperature to around 9,500.”
Ai Xiao's love for Myanmar is seen in the photos and videos he took: An old man reading a newspaper roadside, a young man playing his cell phone on a bus, a kid playing on the beach... All pictures show Myanmar in a real, vivid, natural and beautiful manner.
"I hope photographers from China and Myanmar could help enhance mutual understanding in the two countries." In the future, Ai Xiao hopes something like a China-Myanmar Photographers’ Fund will be established, so that supporting photographic projects will be available. He said Myanmar folks like sharing pictures on social networks. If more Myanmar photographers post the photos taken in China on the Internet, a real China can be seen by more Myanmar people. "Trips to Myanmar renewed my understanding to the country, where I’d like to visit again and again." Ai Xiao is expecting his next trip to Myanmar.
Reporting By Zhang Yinglin; trans-editing by Wang Shixue