I was strolling around a village near Inle Lake, Shan State, Burma, when this young girl, her face plastered with thannaka, baby brother strapped to her back, came out of her house, smiled and handed me some flowers. It was a lovely and unexpected gesture. I continued and more children came to me, one at a time, and handed me flowers. I thought ‘this would not happen to strangers in suburban Sydney’, or anywhere else for that matter. It was one of the most heartwarming experiences of my travels. Taken in 1984, Nikon FM2, Kodachrome film.


flower, girl, travel, children, burma, myanmar, film, asia, inle, shan state

I am an Australian expat living in the hills of Mae Hong Son province Thailand (please visit cavelodge.com). I photograph almost everything, above and below ground.

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  • MrJoop
    MrJoopabout 5 years ago

    Great memory. The little arm, coming from behind, I did not notice at first. Luckily, I’d read your explanation.

  • woof
    woofabout 5 years ago

    great story !!! what’s the thannaka for?

  • The Burmese make it from the bark of a tree, and it is used as a traditional make up and for protection from the sun

    – John Spies

  • woof
    woofabout 5 years ago

    thanks for the info!!!

  • Christeen Thornton
    Christeen Thor...about 5 years ago

    fantastic image John!

  • Thanks for the nice comment

    – John Spies

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