MYANMAR PART 1:
Our trip to Myanmar (Burma) was one of the best experiences. Not only is the country beautiful but its rich culture and people immediately drew us in. Myanmar is not a widely discussed tourist destination mainly because it only recently reduced its restriction on foreign travelers. From 1962-2011 the country has been under military junta rule with frequent civil wars and uprisings. Although travelers were permitted everything they saw was controlled by Myanmar government. Now the country is experiencing a transition into a democratic society and for the first time people are allowed to share their experiences and thoughts about their country. Throughout our trip we had three different tour guides and it was interesting to see what they were and were not interested in sharing candidly.
During our stay we visited four towns: Yangon (former capital city), Bagan (religious center), Inle Lake (fishing and farming villages) and Ngapali (gorgeous beach). I’ll start with Yangon, our first stop.
Yangon is the largest city in Myanmar but is relatively under developed. Since the military owned (and in some cases still do) everything the economy has been crippled and it has taken its toll on the people. We spent one full day in the city shopping, visiting the gorgeous Buddhist temples and markets. The country has rich resources in jade, rubies, and gold but most of the mines are still owned by the military and change is slow for the exporting to become profitable for local people.
Picture 1: Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred temple in Myanmar houses relics from the past four Buddhas. It was constructed in the 11th century and covered in three tons of gold
Picture 2: Buddhist nuns collecting donations at the market
Picture 3: We heard over and over that Burma is not known for food. Perhaps these people had been visiting the wrong restaurants because we had the best food during our trip! Think of it as a cross between Indian and Thai (both neighboring countries). Rich curries, flavorful soups, amazing rice dishes….we couldn’t get enough
Picture 4: We planned this trip with a group of friends from Shanghai. Katie in the middle did all the planning and she did an amazing job – she has a sixth sense for travel. Kelly is to her right
Picture 5: JP, Jake and John pose with monks at the Shwedagon Pagoda
Picture 6: Reclining Buddah at Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda
Picture 7: What’s a trip without souvenirs? Jake and I splurged a bit and purchased this painting by Burmese artist Htein Lin