Country formerly known as BurmaLand formerly known as Burma
Burma - In the countryside formerly known as Burma, tourists must balance beauty with oppression.
If you believe you are going to visit former Burma, you may be aware of the deadly oppression, the world' s drug trafficking and the odd 1950s beach party vibe here. Either way, your most obvious temptation for this Southeast Asia country is probably the spire that sits on a mound above the town once known as Rangoon.
It can be seen as a symbolic of Burma's intellectual resistance to oppression and destitution, as many US attendees do; or it can only be taken as a nice image, as the ruling but unelected State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in Myanmar would probably like. The SLORC, which wants to shut up those defenders of humanitarian law who are demanding a tourist ban on the country, is looking for more people.
Awakening the interest of Myanmar's adventurous people, who have belonged to a beautiful, tropical country that is only now beginning to show westerly influence after more than 30 years of refuge. The Myanmar case poses an annoying issue for today's travelers: A lot of travellers and most of those who earn their livelihoods from travel claim that a visitor cannot be held responsible for all the deeds in their destination, otherwise no one would ever abandon their homes.
A visit to Myanmar "is not appropriate," says Kyaw Tint, who escaped the country in 1985 and now resides in Alhambra, California. However, with some actions, the "Visit Myanmar" is already a hit. A number of large, high-end U.S. tour operators have started to bring travellers to Myanmar, among them Abercrombie & Kent International, Classical Cruises & Tours, Geographic Expeditions, Butterfield & Robinson, Mountain Travel-Sobek and Radisson-Seven Seas Cruises.
They emphasize that they are putting as little cash as possible in the pocket of the US administration and are reporting a small but increasing number of reservations from adventuresome US people. The travellers reaching Myanmar find a place of their own. Coming to the Kandawgyi Lake in Yangon on a bright Saturday in front of the huge red-yellow Karaweik Hotel that looks like a giant regal cargo boat, a mystical guy with a Ministry of Tourism insignia and a videocamera on it.
This nugget is the kind found in the elegant illuminated display window of the upper class US resort for $40 a piece. "Generally, the Myanmar population is quite happy," a travel guidebook from the Myanmar administration announced as they set off to the port on a truckload of Americans. A US citizen asks if the coach can make a diversion via the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, the ringleader of anti-government dissidents.
A different US man asks how many lives were lost in the 1988 riots. Suu Kyi has given regularly anti-SLORC talks here since her official liberation in 1995, sometimes with US visitors in front of her public. However, in recent polls, she has condemned occasional travel in her country as "synonymous with promoting Burma's authoritarianism" and her efforts to keep away the tourist during the Myanmar Year visit.
The US State Department says Myanmar is the global market leadership in the field of producing it. Amnesty International puts the country's detainees at over 1,000, not counting most of the 300 dissidents detained and freed in May.
Travellers rummaging along the lanes between Bogyoke Aung San and Anawrahta will find bookstores stacking their goods on the pavement, the Paul Erdman inventories ("The Crash of'79"), Thomas Hardy ("Tess of the D'Urbervilles"), a few Tom Clancy victims and many amour. When you choose to travel to the country formerly known as Burma, a visitor must have a valid visas.
Please consult the Embassy of Myanmar, Information Officer, 2300 S St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, (202) 332-9044; Faç. (202) 332-9046. State Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services provides a computerised telephone system with trip alerts and consulting information about Myanmar and other states. When you choose to visit the country formerly known as Burma, a visitor must have a valid visitor permit.
Please consult the Embassy of Myanmar, Information Officer, 2300 S St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, (202) 332-9044; Faç. (202) 332-9046. State Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services provides a computerised telephone system with trip alerts and consulting information about Myanmar and other states.