Previously KNOT JUST PICS. Same shit, different name.

The Chin Villages of Myanmar

From the already remote town of Mrauk U in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, an area the military government does not encourage Western tourists to travel to, we took a boat upriver to visit the remote Chin Villages where old women still bear the scars of the facial tattoos forced upon them in childhood to make them less appealing to any men invading the area. We had mixed feelings initially about venturing to these villages as we are generally not big fans of people as tourism commodities. The thought of seeing these old women paraded out for the greedy cameras of rich European tourists was not appealing to us. After a bit of digging though, and discovering that these old women deliberately “show off” their faces for tourists as a way of making money to support their extended families who live in some of the poorest areas of Myanmar, we felt moderately better about going out to see them.

The journey to these villages involves a nearly hour drive out of Mrauk U on potholed dirt roads in a suspension-less 4×4, before getting into a small boat powered by what sounds like a lawn mower motor for a further 2-3 hour trip upstream. This all sounds like part of the adventure, which it indeed is;  unless, like Andy you are struck down with a nasty virus. Andy has bad luck when it comes to getting sick on our trips, he’s had Strep throat in Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia, and really bad altitude sickness in Bolivia, so with this trip we were pretty much waiting for whatever may befall him this time.  On our trips, Andy is seldom without a camera in his hand, taking breathtaking pics of stuff I often don’t even notice, so when he didn’t pick up a camera for this entire portion of the trip, I KNEW that he wasn’t just down with man flu, but with something more serious. But to his credit, like a freaking rock-star, he still made this trip out with me up river despite the near constant urge to vomit and god knows what else.

Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-002Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-001Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-003 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-004 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-005 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-006

The only access the people who live in this region have to the “outside world” is along the mass of river systems that snake through the region. You really get a feeling of seeing a place almost frozen in time as people here continue to live on the river in the same way they have for generations.

Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-008 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-009 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-010 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-012 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-013

The first village we stopped at was at a picturesque bend in the river. It was a  place that looks like an idyllic spot to live in, and in many ways it must be, but we were also confronted by the crippling poverty and isolation of the area. Amazingly though, everyone we met was almost excessively warm, welcoming and wanted to chat to us.

Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-014 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-015 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-016 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-017 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-018 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-019

As we made our way up the steep powder soft sand to the village, we were met by an excited group of women all well over 70. They took us by the arms and led us around their village, showing us their facial tattoos and their massive bamboo plugs they have in their ears – they thought is was hilarious and laughed with their betel-stained teeth at me when I showed them my own (comparably small) plugs, and I seemed to form an instant connection with them after that. These women weave cloth as a way of bringing income to their extended families as they sell these exquisite fabrics to the people who come to see them. This makes the interactions with them a mutually beneficial exchange between tourist and woman and in our mind makes this a far more acceptable exchange. Getting to see how these incredible people live and getting a glimpse into their everyday lives was a truly incredible experience.

Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-020 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-021 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-022 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-024 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-025 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-026 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-027 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-031 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-032 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-033 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-034 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-030Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-028Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-029Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-035Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-036 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-037 Myanmar-Mrauk U-Chin Villages-038

One thought on “The Chin Villages of Myanmar”

  1. Frances Anne Stent says:

    Awesome photos and experience. Sorry Andrew wasn’t well though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Andy & Szerdi on Instagram

  • Storme and Alex. 
What a unique experience it was for me to not only stand up with one of my besties of 30 years at her wedding, but also to be able to shoot her day. 
Shooting Stormie’s wedding was such a lovely reminder for me of all the unique parts that go into a wedding and how important it is to honour all of them and shoot and be witness to the events unfolding before your eyes.

Getting to see the human I’ve known since we were still little on the playground, who I’ve known through teenage tears and adventures and through growing up and figuring out this whole adulthood thing with - seeing them happy and with the person that completes them AND getting to capture these memories for them, this was just pure damn magic and an absolute delight 💜

While I know I’m not every bride I shoots bestie, I go in with the same love and intention as I would if we had known each other since we were 5 years old ☺️
  • I’ve kind of fallen off the blogging bandwagon a bit, but with gems like this just waiting to be blogged, I should probably get my ass into gear and get on it 🙈
  • Getting ready. So right now I should be somewhere like this with a gorgeous lady getting ready to get  married in the beautiful bush. Instead I’m at home snuggled on the couch with Bowie my cat and I can hear my Stu grunting to himself behind the couch which is his bunny hidey home. And honestly I miss this so much! I miss being witness to the excitement in the lead up to a wedding, I miss the pure joy and energy of the wedding morning. I am so greatful to have a warm safe home and plenty of food while so many people don’t. But I am also ready for normal life again, if that’s even still a thing...
  • “This friend would hate me for bringing this up... but it's one of my favourite rediscoveries! This face is so common! We've been practicing make up for her wedding... and we're both still doing art (she did fine art at Rhodes). And it's made me laugh and laugh. It literally sums up our friendship, squinting and being overly honest.” @alice.kathleen sharing such a special moment from the morning of her wedding x
  • “Our beautiful little flowergirl Charlotte obviously way too busy throwing her flower petals in the air to notice her auntie Nat and Uncle Gary getting married behind her 💕” @nataleehays 💜
  • From the wonderful @franco.stein I’ve got a few but I love this one: I was showing Flo and Bron my wedding ring. Flo tried it on and it got stuck on her finger. This captures that moment: Flo was so worried about getting it off, Bron was trying to reassure her, and I just thought it was very funny.
  • Wedding morning chats ☺️
  • Keeping to my theme of moody side light here, I just adore this pic of Rosemary being helped by her sister moments before her and Deane had their first look. Their whole wedding was incredibly unique and down to earth - they got married in her parents garden surrounded by the people they love the most. It was honestly the most special thing to be witness to 💜
  • When life was simpler and all about those just married smiles ☺️
  • How’s everyone doing and handling their social media right now? I can’t quite figure out if i should just be posting like normal, offering some uplifting quote or message, or just openly be wallowing in what in the ever loving fuck March has turned out to be...
So here are some fun, happy, drunky, dancey, party moments.
  • Post ceremony moments between sisters. This right here is the good stuff weddings are made of. The moments that flutter past. These are some of our favourite to freeze for you!
  • Can’t wait to get back to shooting such picture perfect wedding settings. 
Also, who wouldn’t kill to be in the mountains and nature right now?! 😍

We Choose Adventure on Instagram

  • I’ve played guitar and bass for a while and always wanted to try sitar. Had my first lesson today in Varanasi. What an amazing instrument! So different to guitar. I was very shit and my fingers feel like they’ve been manicured with a sword, but I love this thing.
  • Following @the_szerd around temples since 2010.

Our first big overseas adventure was to Nepal, where we got engaged. The travel bug bit hard and it’s been love and magical unicorn farts ever since. Here’s to a trillion more adventures with this person ❤️
  • There’s something beautiful and timeless about a shawl or saree. The Indian woman are such a vibrant contrast to the dusty streets.
  • Up to our eyebrows with hot chai (tea) and hotter curry. #wishyouwerehere #notreally
  • Unbelievable detail carved into these old stone mansions (called “Havelis”) from the 1800s. The one took 55 years to finish! It may take us that long to finish painting our kitchen...
  • Epic views over the small desert city of Jaisalmer in North West India, not far from the Pakistan border. 
First time in this beautiful country. Managed to step in cow shit within the first 2 minutes and dog shit within the first 10. Welcome to India!
  • This weekend exceeded all expectations! 🙌 Sooo many good bands, the friendliest people, and delicious veggie food. The mud and rain even made it a proper English festival experience 🌧 This was our first @downloadfest and we WILL be back! Thank you @the_szerd for enjoying the same noisy music as me and always being my band buddy 😘
  • This summer in Europe has been epic for bands so far! Another one from our “must-see” band list. Alice in Chains 🔥 Definite highlights were this song, Them Bones, and Nutshell, which Jerry Cantrell dedicated to Layne Stayley. Totes emosch 😥 @aliceinchains
  • I played bass for a long time and this man was my bass crush 😍 #justinchancellor was worth every second of the 20 year wait to watch this man play 🙌 ... and I got his plectrum ! That’s getting framed.
  • Tool 🙌 I waited 20 years to see this band and it finally happened last night in Berlin, of all places. They were a massive influence on my own band and were actually one of the reasons @the_szerd and I started dating over 15 years ago. I even played in a Tool tribute band back in the day. Excellent times!
  • People watching from the shade.
  • Exploring the narrow streets and alleyways of Stone Town, Zanzibar. This place reminds us so much of the old part of Jeddah with the African/Arab cross culture and architecture.

These are some of the awesome blogs we've been featured on


Website designed by us and custom built by Andy. Check out his website company Andy Stent - Wordpress Website Development for more info.