So what is Myanmar?

On 19 February 2014 by From elephants to kangaroos
 After 27 days here (on 28 authorized by the visa), here is my vision of this beautiful country.

imageMyanmar, it’s the old Burma that we should no longer call like this since the end of British colonial rule but the name remains nevertheless used by tourists. This is a country where there is a military junta, which from the perspective of tourists prevents them from going into certain parts of the country. Outside this and multiple passport checks when traveling by bus or GH, you do not feel all this military pressure and people do not seem (at least in appearance) to suffer of it.

imageMyanmar is an extraordinary diversity of landscapes. Forests, mountains, rice fields, lakes, seas and beautiful beaches, fields, countryside, cities, you have something for everyone! Ultra colorful and lively, this nature will not leave you indiferent.

Myanmar is a flashback, as a country that has stopped in time. Here, no machine to cultivate the land or build houses, everything is done with the hands of men (and time). So you can see farmers cultivating their land with oxen pulling the plow, magical moment …

imageMyanmar is an accumulation of traditions. Local start the day by putting Thanakha on the face and sometimes on the body to protect itself from the sun. Round, dashed, covering the whole body, the techniques are different but the idea is always the same. We do not play a lot of football but chinlon which is played with a smaller ball bamboo. Men dress with longyis so large skirts, and you can also see people walking around in pajamas in the street. And it is these betel leaves with lime inside the premises chew all day spitting all the time everywhere in the streets reddish jets well disgusting.

imageMyanmar, it is religion . People spend between 10 and 30 % of their (low) monthly income for that. Donations to monasteries, pagodas , monks… It is important to regularly go pray in pagodas near his birth sign (which depends on your date and time of birth) , to get up early to feed the monks who pass in the street. Buddhism is everywhere, in every city , in every house with a place reserved for the Buddha ( and be careful not to sleep with your foot face to the Buddha, it’s bad luck!) . As pagodas… impossible to miss, you will find some absolutely everywhere! Hundreds or thousands depending on the city, any size, always golden. Reclining largest Buddha in the world, seated buddha, snake buddha, standing Buddha, garden of Buddhas, Buddha caves, again there is something for everyone. Finally, you will live in the middle of the monks who are either in the monastery or in the streets (sometimes on a scooter, calling with their smartphone, smoking their cigarette!) . Not a day without crossing dozens but the most impressive is to see them in their monastery at lunch time or during meditation.

imageMyanmar is a country trying to cope with the massive influx of tourists. Since the opening of the country, 250,000 people came to visit the first year, they expect 2 million this year! Hotels are built by chain, people are trying to learn English, wifi settles, prices are sometimes uneven and sometimes soaring because of the non-competition and non-market knowledge. However, it is still difficult to reach certain areas of the country, transportation is not yet optimized and some areas are closed / bypass.

imageBut first and foremost, Myanmar, is its people. Extraordinary people, a kind rarely (never?) encountered, which look deeply happy. First, they can seem closed and hard. But when they begin to smile, their faces light up and they radiate. And here, people hardly speak English and beyond the Burmese, there are many dialects of the tribe. But 1 language remains universal: the smile! And whatever happens, they thirst to communicate with you so try a few words in English when you try to Burmese!
imageThese people have given me all the beautiful moments such as those single women who, in the bus, sitting next to you, insist to offer fruits, this man during the ascent of the golden rock that has seen me eat and I gave him cakes I had and in return he gave me his pilgrim’s staff to finish my climb, the monk met in a small temple in Bagan with whom I discussed 30min and gave me his necklace of prayer, I went back to see the next day to give him Indian rupees (he was fond of foreign currency), Mimi the inhabitants of Bago who wanted to know everything about me, this couple in Inle who welcomed us with whom we laughed a lot even without understanding, this woman looked at me smiling for 2 min and finally started telling me ” you are really beautiful ” and left with the same smile , these children Hpa-an with whom I played football and many others …

Only negatives of this country, because yes there are 2 major for my taste: as told me one day a Burmese, people have no discipline, and this is the case to say.. . Everyone grows up, it honks in all directions, no politeness, and people spit and blow their noses in the street, something more or less common in Asia with which I definitely not like… And we also talk all the time of child labor in China. I think that someone should start looking at this problem here. I was quite shocked to see children of all ages work in restaurants, shops, boats and other… as well as see women wear on their head weight hallucinating when men are next to no do nothing.

imageSo in summary, for me , Myanmar it’s the colorful bazaar of Yangon, the great trek from Kalaw and Inle between beautiful landscapes and sharing with people, calm and explore this incredible life built on Inle Lake, sunrise from the temple Bulethi in Bagan to become a child again watching the balloons fly over thousands of temples, fresh fruit juice before the sunset from the beautiful beach of Ngapali , the long march through the streets of Bago to discover life and chat with Burmese after observing monks in line waiting for their lunch, 3:30 difficult walk to reach the Golden Rock at Kinpoon is suddenly a nice reward once on top , the splendor of the green countryside in the mountains driving my free as air to Hpa-An and finally the world’s largest pretty impressive Buddha in Mawlamyine. It is also one boat and 10 buses across the country or around 84h of transport, excluding taxis / motobikes / local buses and other means of transport made ​​by the latter !

gtoupeAnd once again all the wonderful people I met there, first with local but also with Claire, Adeline and Kevin, U.S. couple as seen and reviewed detours paths, Nadine, Matthew, David and Emanuela, Patrick and Nathalie, dinner with the couple of Nîmes fishermen, Polish couple in golden rock, Tom & Naomi, Mark & Jenny, Fancy & Fabien, Pascal and of course, one of my favorite heart meetings, Wojtek and Kasia!

 imageYou understood, I, like many tourists, fall in love with this magnificent country. This is a simply wonderful country! All to see, nothing to throw! Come visit, stroll in the small villages, eat their great food, take your time. Play with the kids, stop at a cafe when someone calls you, even if you do not really get to communicate, these people are eager to learn and contacts. And all they have endured and still endure, this is a small thing to give them the time that you will never regret!

I have not had time to see the entire northern part of the country, it will give me another opportunity to come back and go discover Mandalay and its region, the Northeast and Mrauk U, and my elephant camp in hoping that in a few years, all that is more easily accessible to tourists! And who knows, by then, there will probably even open new places so I can discover …

To conclude, as someone told me, “Myanmar, you have to worth it.” It may not be easy to come here, to get around, you can spend endless hours in the bus for distances yet not so large, the prices are not those expected. But what a reward when you get to where you want …

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