Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The place where two giant Buddha statues, the Bamiyan Buddhas, stood for over 1,500 years before being obliterated by the Islamist group known as the Taliban in 2001. I managed to get there in 2009, and explored the area for historically significant sites.
The valley is quite fertile with many small farms. On our long walks between the Buddha statue niches and our yurts, it was quite common to cut across these farms. I encountered this young boy who had been looking after some sheep. He was quite a happy lad and enjoyed having his photo taken.
It had been a long journey travelling by car from Yangon to Hpa An. At our destination, having unpacked, we explored the immediate vicinity of Hpa An and found a great place just as the sun was setting. Children were playing in the river, and an occasional boat would pass, but it was quiet and peaceful. A great end to the day.
The Yangon Circular Railway in Myanmar provides a wonderful opportunity to see people travelling across the city. Whilst standing on the platform at a train station, I noticed this young boy looking out from the train that had just pulled in.
In southern Iraq, just a few miles from the Iranian border. It was another hot day, and I was standing outside the structure called Ezra’s Tomb. Nearby, three kids were peeking through a doorway, their faces in obvious delight at the interest being shown to them by my camera. But the countless horrors of people killing other people will touch their lives in countless ways, and I wonder if they still smile. But I have hope.
It needed a small truck to get here but, up here in the hills of Kayah State (Myanmar), there was plenty to like as we experienced a wonderfully foliaged landscape interspaced with small villages. In what seemed to be the most substantial local village, we were warmly welcomed by the Padaung, and we had the chance to explore the area by foot. Outside the village, we came across some children who were clearly enjoying each other’s company! Afterwards, we decided to forgo the truck and return to base by hiking down through the hills, which added magnificently to the experience.