Category Society

Yangon puts ‘girl power’ into green spaces

(Nikkei Asian Review, August 2019) Hidden behind trees near a busy road in Yangon is a novel answer to two global hot-button issues: suffocating urbanization and sexual harassment. At one end of a newly-created park, a treehouse overlooks a wooden bridge, and at the other is a netted court where local boys play chinlone (caneball), Myanmar’s unofficial […]

The children scavenging a living in Yangon’s slums

(Southeast Asia Globe, July 2019) 13-year-old Ei Ei Thein knows little of school life – she’s never been. But she could not have been more proud of the borrowed uniform she wore during a recent visit to one of the many scrap-dealers scattered through the slums circling Yangon. A pile of bottles spills beside her […]

Meet Myanmar’s Blue Shirts

(The Diplomat, June 2019) The moment Kay Khine Tun, 22, was arrested at her nursing job in Yangon Children’s Hospital, her father readied for an exhausting battle with his former employer, the Myanmar Army. “The military has no shame at all,” said Sein Mya, a 53-year-old taxi driver, as he spooned half a dozen sugars […]

Myanmar’s nascent surfers make waves

(Nikkei Asian Review, October 2018) NGWE SAUNG, Myanmar — From a beachside perch next to a group of sunburned Japanese surfers, betelnut seller Let Let Khine studies a reedy figure being swallowed by a meter-high swell. It is the first time she has seen anyone on a surfboard. The surfer, her son Myat Thura Aung, […]

Once-taboo language lives again in rural Myanmar

(Nikkei Asian Review, July 2018) LONE TON, Myanmar — A punchy cadence echoes from a one-story school building toward verdant mountains — the familiar sound of children reciting lines to learn a language. But in this part of northern Myanmar, speaking Shan-ni, the local dialect, only a decade ago was seen as taboo, and treated […]

Myanmar’s ‘Valley of the Rubies’ emerges from shadows

(Nikkei Asian Review, April 2018) MOGOK, Myanmar — When the world hears about Mogok, it usually concerns some hefty ruby unearthed in the region and auctioned for millions of dollars — the kind of discovery that has dominated news about the remote gem-mining town for decades. But with gnawing anxieties over dwindling gem deposits, locals […]

This Transgender Bodybuilder is Crushing Barriers in Vietnam

(Narratively, November 2016) Photography by Vinh Dao As a conservative country’s LGBTQ community finally finds its voice, one athlete fights for the right to compete as his true self in a hyper-masculine sport. It’s Sunday morning in Ho Chi Minh City. Blistering heat is vaporizing last night’s downpour on the streets of District 7, an upscale area southeast of the city center and popular with expats. […]

Vietnam wakes up to its human trafficking problem

(IRIN News, September 2016) Human trafficking is on the rise in Vietnam, although poor crime statistics means the government doesn’t know exactly by how much. Advocacy groups say victims are increasingly being lured on social media. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of human trafficking cases rose by at least 11.6 percent over the previous […]

Fast and Frustrated: Saigon Drift

(AsiaLIFE, March 2016) Lorcan Lovett buckles up for a drive with Vietnam’s ‘Drift King’ to learn about the trend for modified cars in the country. Photo by Vinh Dao. Dusk has obscured the Saigon River into a black, empty road as we pull away from a sparse patch of District 2’s dockland. A day spent with Vietnam’s Fast […]

Gay Tourism Soars in Vietnam

(AsiaLIFE, March 2016) Since Vietnam abolished a ban on gay marriage in 2015, there has been a rise in LGBT tourists visiting the country. But are there any more incentives on the way? By Lorcan Lovett. Photo by Vinh Dao. As a gay Hanoian, 33-year-old Nguyen Anh Tuan noticed an increase in LGBT visitors to Vietnam over […]