Myanmar, previously known as Burma, remains one of my most memorable destinations. While the majority of the countries in Southeast Asia have grown politically and economically over the last 50 years, this country has remained impoverished at the hands of a military dictatorship.

Despite the heavy hand of the government, two areas in Myanmar stand out as important UNESCO sites. The Shwedagon in Yangoon is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in all of Burma. Built approximately 2,600 years ago, the stupa was damaged in a series of earthquakes in 1768. It has since been rebuilt and is considered a holy site that all Burmese, no matter how poor, aspire to visit once in their lifetime.

Bagan became a central base of power in approximately A.D. 850 under King Anawratha. This area contains over 2,000 pagodas and temples covering an area of 16 square miles in Central Myanmar. It was in Bagan, as sunset was approaching, that I came across a photographer from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, who was snapping away at the incredible structures and landscapes in this area. My discussion with him helped stimulate my interest in becoming a global photographer.