Kyaung Kha Khat Wain Monastery

20141125_0522.CR2Kyaung Kha Khat Wain monastery made me a bit uncomfortable to visit. The place was hot and full of sleeping dogs who had come out of the hot sun to sleep on the cool pathways under the shelter. The place was empty and then all of a sudden it was filled with the pilgrims and the monks. Something about seeing the monks line up for the tourists as they documented the scene was a bit like entertainment and the monks seemed a bit uncomfortable.

I would really have loved to have found out more about the workings of the school but the scene was really chaotic with the huge line of monks and all the people scrambling to both give their offerings and make their pictures. We just gave money. Hope that helps.

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The monastery is home to over 1000 monks. For sure it is hard to feed that many people in any given situation but considering the fact that the monks survive on donated food the situation is not easy. So people come from all over the world to help feed the monks. The large group assembled there the day we were there were from Singapore. I am not bitching. I mean – Thank goodness – and it is natural to want to document as that is what I was doing too… Perhaps I made people uncomfortable by photographing and not handing out food at the same time!20141125_0487.CR2 20141125_0488.CR2 20141125_0495.CR2 20141125_0498.CR220141125_0504.CR2

People are so generous – they bring food items to distribute at the morning meal and then they go into see the monks seated in a very large room to enjoy their rice – saving the foodstuffs that are more unique for a private time.20141125_0500.CR2 20141125_0512.CR220141125_0520.CR2Then it seems everyone (including us) goes to a nearby restaurant for lunch. Some plates were prepared and displayed and looked really good. I had to photograph the food in the restaurant as it was such a contrast to the simple food the monks had just enjoyed. We ordered something more simple but the prawns do look mighty good.

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Keri Pickett

Keri Pickett is an author, photographer and filmmaker telling the stories of life, family and community with intimacy, honesty and impact. Pickett is Producer, Director and Camera for the award-winning feature documentary film ‘The Fabulous Ice Age’, about the rise and fall of the great American touring ice shows and one man’s quest to save the history, available on Netflix and Amazon. Her short film, 'Steel // Spirit' premiered at MSPIFF and won certificate of excellence in India. Her award-winning books include Love in the 90s; BB and Jo, The Story of a Lifelong Love, A Granddaughter’s Portrait (Warner Books, 1995); Faeries; Visions, Voices & Pretty Dresses (Aperture, 2000); Saving Body & Soul, The Mission of Mary Jo Copeland (WaterBrook, 2004). The recipient of a Jerome and Minnesota State Arts Board grants, three McKnight Foundation Photography fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts award, and a Bush Foundation Fellow, Pickett’s work is in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.