Where to Visit in BurmaHow to visit Burma?
It is a gigantic splendour of pearls at dawn that marks the west side of the town. In the mornings, when it' s peak time, the rule is that both men and woman should be wearing Longyi - the sarongs. Mandalay has an exhilarating array of warmth, scents, street scenes and colors.
What particularly impresses the visitors, however, is the pronounced taste of the not too remote past. But in the first of her Reith readings in the summers of 2011, Aung San Suu Kyi said she wanted to bring expatriates to Burma. Suu Kyi, the brainchild of a Burma independent heroes and Nobel Peace Prize winner herself, is the Zimbabwean politician of choice.
No one who ever wanted to come to Burma needs more support than she does. Their only reservation was that they should stay away from touristic facilities closely linked to the army regimes. Burma is still largely unfamiliar despite its sporadic exposure to the media. In 2010, around 300,000 travellers came to the London Eye, for comparison: around three and a half million annually pays for the London Eye.
Buddhism, the heritage of the British Empire, the ethnical variety of the people and the long empire past of the Myrmigne. Approximately one hours before Mandalay a rough street ends at a boat trip over a creek of the Irrawaddy River. Cristiano Ronaldo, the former Manchester United wingman, is nicknamed Dolay.
There is little to suggest that this place, Ava, was once one of Burma's largest imperial capital cities. Burma was a great country with its own kingdom from the eleventh to the arrival of the British in the mid-nineteenth centuries. Although the state was governed by Myanmar royalty, it was a rag rug of nationalities: Mon, Shan, Chin, Kayin, and many others.
On its slanted summit, I see other remains of the imperial town sticking out of the tree - two convents, another gate, two decayed swimming pools - but the remainder of the countryside is occupied by flowers, barns, thin cow and ox-cart. Situated in the north-west of the old town, the convent is made of massive wood and its weather-beaten planks are creaking underneath.
U Nayakar, the school's only instructor, has been teaching the villagers mathematics, literacy, Burmese, a little English and Pali - the old Buddhist scriptural worl. Myanmar is a profoundly devout place where 90 percent of the population follows the Theravada Buddhist High.
Buddhistic feasts underline the arduous farming world. Opposite the Irrawaddy of Ava, more than 2,000 buddhistic shrines puncture the hills of the city of Sagaing, whose gold-plated rooftops dazzle through the saplings. Buddha religious are also a kind of politics. During 2007, tens of thousand of them took part in protests against the regime, which we forcibly disbanded.
Inle Lake is almost 200 leagues south-east of Mandalay. It is an hours flight across a countryside with small squares, cabins and churches, a place without power and running waters, where farming is taking on mediaeval shapes. The clear waters, surrounded by velvet lush hills, are full of swimming towns and ancient shrines.
It is also a good introductory talk to the vertiginous ethnical mixture of contemporary Burma. It is a turbulent mixture of 135 ethnical groups, for whose cohesion the regime has fought since 1948. Situated in Shan State, Burma's core state, Inle is home to the Shanfolk. After laying down their arms and making war with the state, they now get revenues from two inns by the lakeside and touring to their communities.
In other places, it was difficult to grasp peace: some key parts of Shan State are not under the full rule of the Shan administration and are open to outsideers. While I was going to Burma for a few month, it seemed that much of the policy action in the county was accelerating, and much of what I was reading was outdated or imprecise when I got there.
I' ve never seen a military man or felt insecure - but this is of course the most experienced visitor to Burma from abroad, and perhaps not the most precise representation of real world for the most part. Last year's civil administration, which took over, freed some prisoner politicians - although many are still in prison - and called off the building of a hydroelectric power plant that would have disturbed Irwaddy.
The Bagan is Burma's most important heritage site. It is only 80 mile from Mandalay, but the roads are so poor that most tourists decide to take a plane or take a trip by ferry - which is a full days trip on the Irrawaddy. During July 2011, the woman herself went to Bagan to speak to the locals and make a gestures of assistance to craftsmen whose futures are inextricably tied to further tourist development.
Since the eleventh quarter, painted goods have been produced in Bagan, in the production of which 80 percent of the local inhabitants are part. As I was visiting Bagan, the peasants in the nearby field started harvesting groundnuts - they pulled the plant up by hands, beat it with bamboos to take away the groundnuts, and then won it, one by one, by placing it on a stand of bamboos and tilting it into the outcry.
At its height, between the eleventh and thirteenth century, Bagan was a wealthy and cozy place connected to Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and China. While only a small part of the pristine town has been preserved, the ancient and extensive remnants of the Angkorea temple of Cambodia.
Within the old ramparts are the remains of a Hindu monolith. As the sun sets, the reddish tiles of the Bagan sanctuaries turn a flaming rose against the background of ash and cassusia. There is little need to say that an increase in tourist activity will not resolve Burma's issues. But Aung San Suu Kyi's wish for more people to visit is one of many promising signals.
Publication of the article'A new since in Burma' in cooperation with Lonely Planet Magazine.