From March 30 through April 11, I had the incredible opportunity to journey to Southeast Asia, traveling through an enchanting country that only recently is becoming publicized for Western tourists to explore.
Myanmar, previously known as Burma, is located just Southwest of Thailand in the heart of Southeast Asia. First established as a British trade path through India and China, then as an Indian province, Burma became a separate British colony in 1937. After much political turmoil through the first half of the 1900s as well as civil wars and unrest due to the military Junta, the country changed it's name and became a mostly Democratic nation after 2012.
In the past five years, huge improvements have been made to the touristic and day-to-day infrastructure of the country. After financial help from the UN and visits from President Obama as well as many other heads of state worldwide, Myanmar has seen many positive changes in recent years, resulting in more exposure to Westernized ideals and increasing interest in tourism to further revitalize their country.
The incredible history and stunning landscape was only a small portion of what I loved so much about my experience in Myanmar - the beautiful culture and peaceful Buddhist nature of the inhabitants was what left a lasting impact. Typically before a longer and more exotic trip such as this one, I do quite a bit of reading and research to get a good feel for what to anticipate when I arrive. The issue with going to somewhere SO remote and SO different was that there was little material to read about how life is in the present day in Myanmar. It's only been like it is now for about five years!
I felt so safe and so welcomed everywhere we went...the mamas in the villages took my arm and held my hand...the children just wanted to giggle and play...the monks and nuns engulfed us with each visit in their air of calm and contentment. Even the street dogs were friendly and well-fed. A community mentality is the norm, especially in the smaller cities such as Bagan and Inle Lake, and although many people of Myanmar have less material wealth than that of Westernized cities, they make sure that everyone is well looked after with all of their basic needs met. This care and satisfaction in life is inspiring, and something that I always try to take back with me to the states whenever I travel to a country that has less financially than the United States, but seems richer in many other aspects.
My ten days spent exploring Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake were unparalleled. The amount of knowledge and assistance our wonderful guide, Nying, provided, as well as the people-to-people interaction we experienced through his insider access and relationships truly made this trip special. I wholeheartedly recommend any travelers looking for a special adventure to consider Myanmar, and definitely contact me with any questions or comments - I am more than happy to help! #wheretonext #wheretonextmyanmar
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Until next time -