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Myanmar ( Burma )

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Click below for:
– Yangon
Mandalay and Royal Cities
River Journeys

Pwin Oo Lwin and Train to Hsipaw
Inle Lake and Pindaya and Kalaw
Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp near Kalaw
Bagan
– Travel to Myanmar and within by air and overland
– E-VISA Link
: www.evisa.moip.gov.mm

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, to some, still conjures up images of Rudyard Kipling, the tinkling of temple bells amidst golden spires and the smells of spices. Myanmar is a complex country of over 50 million people. Officially the government recognizes 135 ethnic groups which are divided into 8 national races: Bamar, Chin, Kayin (Karen) Kayah (Karenni), Kachin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan.


Myanmar or Burma?

Burma was the name given by the British taken from the term Bamar, the largest ethnic group comprising around 60% of the population that mostly inhabit the Irrawaddy plains. The remaining 40% or so, is made up of the various other ethnic groups mostly inhabiting the more resource-rich mountainous border areas. Each group has their own language but Burmese is considered the national language.  In 1989, the military regime officially changed the name of the country to Myanmar.  This name change was meant to refer to the nation representative of various other ethnic groups. But historically boundaries of the nation as established under the colonial rule did not exist. What has formed Myanmar today began with the struggle for supremacy between various kingdoms and territories along with centuries of migrations creating allegiances as well as conquests. The locals have always known the term Myanmar which comes from what sounds like mranma which could actually refer to the Bamar.  Rangoon was again called Yangon as it was prior to the British. But the meaning of Myanmar has been up for debate.  Some people refused to use the name Myanmar simply because nothing that was done by the former military government was deemed acceptable. Burma also sounds alot more romantic and you will hear people interchanging both names acceptably in conversation, perhaps according to whatever context they are using. An Adaptation of Expression Law also introduced English language names for other towns, some which are not ethnically Burmese.

The long awaited change in government in 2015 brought in new hopes but the road ahead is a long one with many challenges. Trying to grasp an understanding of the complex history of this country is essential before attempting to fathom what it may take to implement proper reforms. So much of the outside world has only heard of internal conflict of interests which are complicated enough, but the shadow world of external geopolitics is rarely covered much in the media.
To help gain an understanding of enormous challenges past and present, an excellent book to read is:
Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia  by historian and beautiful writer, Thant Myint U, who is the grandson of  former UN General Secretary U Thant.
Thant Myint U is also the author of a personal history of Burma:  River of Lost Footsteps
He is also the founder and chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust.

Regardless of the challenges ahead which will again include ups and downs, it seems there is no turning back to opening up the country. An explosion of mobile phones, Wifi, Facebook and the selfie- culture has arrived- all unthinkable just a few years ago.
A building boom is happening and it is difficult to keep up with daily changes. But hotel prices have stabilized, communications are much easier and the new E-Visa service is very efficient.

Mindful and Responsible Tourism supports the growing private sector and the people inside Myanmar no longer wish to be isolated. One point of past years of isolation is that Myanmar remained the least influenced by the outside world. Traditional life, devotion and spirit remained strong within a multitude of cultures. As the people now look outward, hopefully wisdom and peace can prevail with new enlightened leadership.

Truly a Land of Pagodas, each of my travels to this country has been an amazing experience encountering some of the friendliest and kindest people- so many who finally want to move forward, hoping to find new opportunities to realize their potential, while wishing to maintain their cultural identity so important to them.

It was heartwarming on a recent trip to see positive things happening with talented people dedicated to new developments such as Inle Heritage and the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp looking after retired working elephants along with a reforestation project.  There is so much to see in this country, each area with so many stories and where you can still feel yourself in timeless travel.

Follow Current News and Issues:
The Irrawaddy   https://www.irrawaddy.com/

Frontier Myanmar  https://frontiermyanmar.net/en

For more recommended reading: Click Here

 

In front of the Old British High Court, Yangon moving forward while locals are also able to enjoy
some relax time in their city these days.

Pondering the future looking out to the Irrawaddy at Mingun near Mandalay.

Looking out to Sagaing, the Irrawaddy River was the former Road to Mandalay.
From 1865- late 1940s, the Scottish owned Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (IFC) operated the largest fleet of vessels in the world transporting passengers and cargo up and down the Irrawaddy.


Today you can travel the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers in stylish replicas of the old IFC ships operated by  Pandaw Cruises.
See more on:   https://www.pandaw.com/ships

As Rudyard Kipling wrote:
Come you back to Mandalay, 
Where the old Flotilla lay
Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’
from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,an’ the dawn comes up
like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

Click on Links below for:

– Yangon
– Mandalay and Royal Cities
– River Journeys

Pwin Oo Lwin and Train to Hsipaw and Story of the last Shan Princess
Inle Lake  including Pindaya and Kalaw
Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp near Kalaw

Bagan
Travel to Myanmar and within by air and overland
– E-VISA Link:  
www.evisa.moip.gov.mm

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