Tag Archives: Burma

Photography Book of Burma

Destination: Burma (Myanmar)

Book: Passage to Burma by Scott Stulberg (NEW October 2013)

Monday I introduced a new book that will help you improve your travel photography. Today we’re looking at a coffee-table photography book that will amply demonstrate what a knowledgeable photographer can achieve.  Passage to Burma, with words and images by Scott Stulberg, will definitely lure you to travel to Burma with its array of color and monotone photos featuring the landscape, people and unique structures you can find in Burma. Stulberg is a professional photographer who has traveled the world, but spent more time in his favorite country, Burma, than anywhere else.

Is Burma on your Bucket List?  WIN THIS BOOK!  Just subscribe to A Traveler’s Library by February 7, or tell me in a comment that you are already subscribed, and I’ll choose a person to receive the book. (Only U.S. residents, over 18, please).

In the introduction, Stulberg tackles the question of what to call this troubled country.  He explains

Burma was changed to Myanmar and Rangoon to Yangon after a huge suppression by the military of a popular uprising.  The change was recognized by the United Nations, and by countries such as France and Japan, but not by the United States and the United Kingdom.  So the use of Burma can indicate non-recognition for the military junta, and the use of Myanmar can indicate a distaste for the colonial powers of the past who called the country Burma.  For me and my friends, it will forever be Burma.

Stulberg divides the photos into five chapters–five important places in Burma.


A city founded along the Irawaddy River 1200 years ago, Stulberg calls Bagan, “a place of dreams.” The focus here is on pagadoas–understandably, since there are 2,000 of them in an area 1/6 the size of Washington D.C.

Bagan Burma monks

Monks walking to their monastery in Bagan, Burma. Photo on page 4, by Scott Stulberg. Used with permission.


Mandalay, thanks to the song “On the Road to Mandalay” is a name familiar to Westerners. I was surprised to learn that the city was built relatively recently–1857. Here the focus is on the Buddhist monks, since this is considered the spiritual center of Buddhism.

Mandalay Burma

Mandalay Burma, pg. 84, Photo by Scott Stulberg, used by permission.

Inle Lake

Stulberg’s description of Inle Lake reminded me of Tonle Sap in Cambodia, which we visited.  Both expand and contract depending on whether it is the rainy season or the dry season. Both are surrounded by tightly packed villages and floating markets.  Inle Lake howeverk, is the home of the Padaung, known for the long-neck women.  As with some tribes in Africa, girls starting at five years old wear brass rings on their necks–adding rings as they grow older. The emphasis here is on the fisherman of Inle Lake and their unusual practice of steering with one leg.

Burma Fisherman

Fisherman on Inle Lake, Burma, page 148, Passage to Burma by Scott Stulberg.


This remote place is far off the usual tourist routes and a visit is a trip back in time where oxcarts substitute for automobiles. It tkaes 7 hours to get there, and is only accessible by boat. A mixture of landscape, Buddhist and portraits represent Mrauk.

Yangon (Rangoon)

In complete contrast to Mrauk, Rangoon suggests the Burma of Somerset Maugham –a busy modern city that still has colonial accents. The religious focal point is the Great Dragon Pagoda, aka Golden Pagoda, and we are treated to photos of its glory along with busy streets and night scenes.


Do you feel that you have been on a tour of Burma?  I certainly did after going through this book.

Although the photos–and the country–are enticing, there are flaws in the book.  For one thing, the photographer writes the narrative and his presentation could have used some judicious editing.  He is clearly very enthusiastic about his subject, but the expressions tend toward the cliché and his favorite adjectives are reused a few too many times.  Likewise, the photos could have been edited down.  Many seem repetitive. Surely there were other subjects that could have been inserted in the mix and we could have seen (for example) fewer of the child monks–adorable as they are.

Finally, there were some serious problems with the binding and printing of the book I received for review.  This happens sometimes in a print run, but in a photo book it is particularly disconcerting to have streaks across a page or pages poorly bound with the stitching intruding on a full-page photo.   It could have been a fluke, so I would not assume that all the books are that way, however, I would suggest you examine any copy carefully and return it if it is not correct.

Has this article got you yearning to visit Burma? Here are eleven practical tips from CNN. And if you’re looking for adventure (what? visiting Burma is not adventure enough?) here’s a tour from Overseas Adventure Tours. (Note: I have no connection to O.A.T. Just thought it looked interesting.)

Note: The publisher provided a review copy of this book, and kindly authorized me to use the photos you see here.  Remember the photos are copyrighted, not available for copy. The photo credit:  Photos from Passage to Burma by Scott Stulberg, Photography by Scott Stulberg, used by permission of the publisher, © 2013 published by Skyhorse Publishing, hardcover

You also need to know that I am an affiliate of Amazon.com.  I put links from the book cover and title to the amazon online store so you can shop easily. Although it costs you no more to use my links, I make a few cents when you do. Thanks for the support.

5 Best Family Travel Books


Destinations: Beijing, Burma, Korea, Australia, Alaska

Books: Several

By Powell Berger


Every place we’ve ever visited has been made better by a book. Relatable teenage characters overcoming odds and introducing us to cultures other than our own open doors to exotic locales and make these new places familiar and welcoming. For us, travel planning goes something like this: pick the destination, book the flights, find the books.

For my first post on A Travelers Library, I’m excited to share the five best family travel books, the ones we immediately talk about when remembering our travels or planning the next adventure.

family travel book
Forbidden City: A Novel of Modern China by William Bell takes the reader on a personal trek through the political nightmare of Tienanmen Square, all through the eyes of Alex Bell, a Canadian high school student who travels to Beijing with his father, a journalist. What starts out as an opportunity to miss school and explore China becomes a harrowing story of a western teenager embroiled in one of the most dangerous political uprisings of modern times. Separated from his father during the demonstrations, Alex has to fend for himself while also helping young demonstrators find safety. A riveting novel based on the true stories surrounding the massacre, Forbidden City delivers a powerful history lesson while leaving the reader on the edge of her seat until the last page.

book cover: family travel to Burma
Elephant Run, by Roland Smith also delivers a great history lesson, drawing the reader into the world of rubber plantations in Burma and the Japanese occupation of that gentle land. Nick Freestone’s mom fears for her son’s safety in their London home after the night bombings, so sends him to live with his father on their rubber plantation in the remote Burmese elephant village. Before Nick even settles in, however, Japanese soldiers invade the village, occupy the plantation and take Nick’s father hostage. To save his father, Nick and the Burmese villagers who work the plantation stage a daring and dangerous counter-attack, depending on their timber elephants to save the day. While the story keeps the reader turning pages to know that the Freestones prevail, its real beauty is in the lovely story of these beautiful elephants, their mahouts, and the deep bonds that hold them together.


book cover: travel to KoreaA Year of Impossible Goodbyes, by Sook Nyul Choi is one of those books that never quite leaves you. My daughter and I still tear up occasionally when we talk about this one. Ten year old Sookan and her family endure the atrocities brought on their native North Korea during WWII by running a sock factory that supplies the Japanese army. The story unfolds in layers, painfully but with grace, unveiling the horror and cruelty of the Japanese soldiers occupying their village. The author handles the issue of comfort women with particular skill, remembering her audience of middle school children, but also not flinching from the atrocities endured by these gentle, proud people. Another page-turner, the book takes the reader through the double whammy – occupation first by the Japanese, then the subsequent horror that Russia inflicted after defeating the Japanese. The courage and determination of Sookan and her family to survive the horrors and ultimately escape to freedom is both inspiring and heart-breaking.

Walkabout: family travel book to Alaska
Walkabout, by James Vance Marshall is an Australian classic but rarely read by American audiences. Marshall tells the story of two American kids who survive a plane crash in the Outback and team up with an Aboriginal boy to save their lives. The author skillfully unfolds the history and tradition of Australia’s native people through these children’s fate. “Walkabout” is a treasured Australian tradition, where young people (usually men) leave home to explore and find themselves, walking about until they figure out their purpose on this planet. The story offers terrific insight into the plight of Australia’s aboriginal people and the issues of racism and discrimination that still exist today.

book cover: family travel to Alaska
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen takes the reader on an adventure through remote Alaska with Cole Matthews, an angry teenager whose rage leaves another young man fighting for his life. Out of options to rehabilitate Cole, the village leaders turn to Circle Justice, a native American tradition that attempts to rehabilitate hardened offenders through a community/victim/perpetrator program. Cole is sentenced to a one-year banishment to a remote Alaska island where he must fend for himself, under the watchful but stern eye of his Tlingit Indian parole officer, Garvey. Cole endures a gruesome bear attack that leaves him clinging to his life and survives on raw worms and other despicable foods, scenes set in gruesome, stomach churning detail. It is Cole’s encounter with the Spirit Bear that eventually sets him on a path to redemption, guided by his own demons, his past, and his determination to save himself. This coming-of-age story is poignant in both its harsh reality and depth of love and connection between an unlikely set of characters.

Note: To learn more about Powell and her family’s travels, and why she is a good judge of best family travel books, see this interview.

Links from the cover illustrations are affiliate links to Amazon.  Even though it costs you no more, when you shop through these links, you are supporting A Traveler’s Library. Thank you.

A New Magazine for Travelers

Indie Travel Podcast Magazine cover

Indie Travel Podcast Magazine cover

Destination: The World

Magazine: Indie Travel Podcast Magazine (Available September 1, 2009)

Don’t be put off by the title of this new travel magazine. Craig and Linda Martin, world travelers who started the award-winning Indie Travel Podcasts, a website and popular blog, are sticking to their brand name as they take the plunge into travel magazine publishing. Continue reading