Saturday, August 23, 2014

Woodworking in Burma

We just returned from a three week trip to Burma, or Myanmar as it is called now. Because it is the rainy season, we only visited the central part around Mandalay, not the coast, nor Yangon, which are usually drowned in water around this time. Three weeks is plenty to visit Mandalay, Bagan, the Inle lake and the mountain area towards Hsipaw, so we took it easy and spend a lot of time in all these places. Burma is fantastic. It is a beauifull country, lots of great things to see, and the people are very nice, always friendly, always smiling. At the same time, it is a very poor country and that can be confrontational at times. Especially Mandalay is starting to see more and more slumps and filth and all that. Burma is also changing really fast, and I'm not sure where the change is leading to. I really hope a lot of the people will profit from this change while at the same time remaining in balance with their heritage.

I discovered some nice woodworking things during the trip which I would like to share over the next few blogs. Wood is still a major building material, together with bamboo, especially in the country side. You'll encounter plenty of wooden buildings like these stilt houses in Inle Lake.

Usually they are build in a quite crude manner, but sometimes you see some embellishment, like this one.

They use a lot of teak wood, which is abundant in this country. A famous one is the U Bein bridge, leading to a small village. It is 1.2 km long.

The wood is decaying, despite it being teak, and I think a restoration is being proposed.

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