Author: Guido Helbling, Avosound - Last updated November 09, 2017
The bus dropped us of at Nyaung Shwe on the shores of Inle lake. The Inle lake is part of the main route through Burma, so it is not surprising that it is swamped with tourists. We join the masses and do something very touristy: chugging across the idyllic lake in a noisy boat.
We hop onto the plane back to Mandalay where we meet up with our trusted guide Myint in the afternoon. We take another ride on the scooters through the city and visit the leaf gold forge again to do some recordings.
In the evening we get the opportunity to record the evening prayer of the monks in a monastery. But, unfortunately, the recording is ruined by the tinny, rattling PA system that transmits all the prayers.
But I do get lucky in the end and manage to record the neophytes during another practice run -- without the PA.
I was given the opportunity to ask the monks if they would mind being recorded. And I asked them about any issues they might have with the recordings in the context of their buddhist beliefs.
Using religious material is always a bit tricky. You have to be careful not to insult anyone's religion and beliefs.
Take, for example, the prayer wheels of the Tibetan buddhists. They are powered by water or wind and work (or 'pray') automatically and autonomously. But does playing back a recording of the prayer wheels count as a religious act from a buddhist's perspective?
I am currently working on an article that will go into more detail about the use of religious sound material. Does my karma suffer if I record a religious ceremony? Or does eternal damnation await those who play it back? You will have the answers soon!
Myint helps us organise the rest of the trip. We take the ferry to Bagan and spend an entertaining evening in Mandalay with Myint (aka Mr Take it Easy).
A ride on a hot air balloon will take about an hour max. We did notice, however, that some of the balloons already set down after 30 minutes (the minimum guaranteed fly time). Although we managed to stay in the air for an hour, it pays to inquire about the exact fly time before you begin your trip (it's not exactly a cheap affair, after all).
In the end, though, it is up to the pilot how long you will stay in the air. But it's a real bummer if he already peters out after 30 minutes...