Through Myanmar

One of Asia’s most mysterious gems finally opens border to visitors looking for pagodas hidden for a long time, of vivid landscapes and laying under its charm.

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For over half a century, Myanmar has kept its doors closed to frantic tour of Southeast Asia. But in 2012, the borders open to international travelers, revealing a rich and exotic world. Myanmar was one of the most anticipated destinations on my backpacking in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar is a feast for the senses. Panoramas breathtaking, ancient temples, spicy fragrance of incense and fight, good food and quiet rhythms that await the intrepid traveler. I have almost recovered all the excitement and essence of my trip to India two years ago!

Glittering temples

The most emblematic of all the temple is Golden Schwedagon pagoda on the top of Singuttara Hill overlooking the city of Yangon. No trip to Myanmar is complete without visiting this pagoda, dating back over 2000 years. It is the most sacred Buddhist temple in the country.

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Another popular sight is Sule Pagoda located on a roundabout in the heart of downtown Yangon. Its arteries lead to other heritage sites and temples glittering like Botahtoung Pagoda.

Further north on the central plains of Bagan, there are ancient Buddhist temples dating from the 9th century.

 

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Meanwhile, the Golden Rock, perched on the summit of Mount Kyaikitiyo attracts faithful pilgrims who come from everywhere. Gold leaf covered, this huge rock has supposedly been naturally hanging on the edge of the cliff for a century and would be kept in balance with a Buddha’s hair! haha.

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Amazing pagodas in Myanmar are not only great expressions of faith but also massive showcases and powerful kingdom of Myanmar.

Colonial relics

Yangon is also home to a myriad of art deco buildings that reflect its colonial past. The British left the country in 1948 but many of these buildings remain. Among the classical structures to see, there is the High Court, the Ministry, the Stand Hotel, City Hotel and the Port Authority Building.

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With the greatest number of intact colonial structures, Yangon is an attractive city for lovers of architecture and history.

Refreshing and dramatic

Still untouched by mass tourism, the Burmese misty mountains, pristine lakes, rivers and murmuring waterfalls offer an idyllic getaway. The adrenaline junkies will find their haven with the trek from Kalaw and Hispaw in the north.

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I traveled with a friend and we walked on obsolete railroad tracks, through the green hills of Shan, slept in villages with wooden houses on stilts … It was a scenic journey overlooking fields rice, chili, great vineyards and waterfalls.

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Inle Lake is the main tourist attraction in Shan State of Myanmar. There are the people of Intha (who lives on the water and fishing), an autonomous community that coexists with the native tribe Padoung and beautiful women with long necks.

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Inle Lake is a maze of floating vegetable gardens where the teak monasteries, silk weavings of stalls, workshop labor money, manufacturing executives and cigar factories.

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The main attraction is the lake to see the people rowed using a leg, delicate balance on the stern of a long canoe, and collect the fish using their conical basket.

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Distinctive beauty

Fortunately, away from the influence of Western dress patterns, Myanmar remains intangible tradition with wearing the longyi, the skirt “sarong” for men and “htamein” for women . It is even worn to the office, at school and even at night! Although very common throughout Southeast Asia, it is most commonly worn in Myanmar and for a wide range of occasions.

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The traditional beautification treatments are still very popular. You will see the women and children (and sometimes men) walking their faces painted with the thanaka, a yellowish white powder. It is a kind of natural sunscreen made from thanaka of tree bark.

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Delicious food

Nobody dies more hunger in Myanmar, almost! You can find food stalls everywhere, pork barbecue, noodle soup, fruit, fried snacks, etc. The culinary landscape of Myanmar is as diverse as its people … a fusion of Asian influences.

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The people are very friendly hosts. It’s common to be offered a snack while visiting their homes, and to be invited to share their meal. Knowing that the Burmese have formal prohibition to host foreign to sleep, they make up with their kitchens!

Tourist-friendly nation

Myanmar already has over the old world charm. Today, towers are everywhere, alongside the buildings of national heritage. However, Myanmar has yet to large shopping malls, international fast food chains or high-speed Internet … but the country still has modern conveniences. There is no housing shortage, particularly in tourist destinations most important known as Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.

In addition to its range of attractions, the real charm of Myanmar today lies in its people – joyful and sincere. Despite the language barrier, people are very patient with foreigners. It often ends with good laughs. Getting your message is not really a stressful challenge, but it is always a good way to learn some local words.

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Travelling to Myanmar is as easy as flying in airplanes among the many national airports or jump into one of its comfortable tourist bus. You can also choose to travel by train or by boat along the famous Ayeyarwady river.

In terms of public transport, you’ll struggle to find a more honest and courteous taxi driver that Burmese. Even if they drive without taximeter, no worries! You will have a real and reasonable price. The absence of aggressive salers to discover the country without being constantly harassed to buy tourist trinkets or be followed by pushy souvenir hawkers. Make sure you have allowed enough weight available in your luggage back! The colorful umbrellas and hand painting from Bagan are among the most popular souvenirs, complex patterned wallpaper, textiles hand-woven and stone sculptures are everywhere, especially in Mandalay.

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With their warm and friendly smiles, the people of this country with the perfect colors lend themselves to incredible photos. They are usually quite willing but always remember to ask politely first and make conversation, you’ll learn so much!

I can honestly say that there is never a boring moment on our journey. Every day something new to discover – whether a new pagoda, a delicious dish, a laugh, a word of the language …! Here it is easy to make friends with other travelers, treading the same paths and share a common happiness, discover the many facets of this gems which is Myanmar!

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