This is Kawgun Cave in Myanmar’s Kayin State. It’s famous for the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of miniature clay Buddha figurines dating from the 7th century that line its walls and ceilings. You can just about make out some of them at the top of the photo.
I had been the only visitor that afternoon and was enjoying the cool, shaded serenity of the cave when this motley crew showed up. Probably kids from a nearby village, I can’t be sure.
They were initially fixated on chasing a little pigeon round the cave, taking turns to get their hands on the bird before releasing it and restarting the pursuit all over again in a flurry of screams and flying feathers. The pigeon was an enigma in itself, clearly unnerved and traumatized by the experience, yet never trying too hard to escape.
It wasn’t long before the kids became aware of the presence of this bemused tourist. Without any warning, they soon took it upon themselves to ham it up in front of my lens like seasoned professionals. Group poses, funny faces, solo acrobatics…and then this.
I had no idea what was going on, and I still don’t. I’m only glad I have the images to prove my story, and my sanity.
NB The pigeon retained its interest and hung around throughout – see if you can spot it in the photo!