Oh what is not to love about Myanmar, in all of Asia we had never met a more friendly, educated, and open people. There was none of the tourist scams that we came across everywhere we went elsewhere in Asia. We made true friends, people who invited us into their lives, homes, and culture. From the excitement of the New Years Water Festival to the quiet luxury of historic hotels like the Strand and Savoy, Myanmar has it all. The people are also so beautiful, with the woman wearing long dresses, button up blouses, and on their faces they have various yellow markings that acts as sunscreen called Thanaka. The men wear long sarongs called Longji, button up shirts, and chew the ever-famous Betel nuts, which leaves their teeth red but never stops them from smiling. Betel Nut Comic
The government was horrible to the people here, but there are great changes going on now, and you can feel the excitement everywhere. About three years ago the government loosening its control, with a lot of thanks to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace prizewinner who had fought for years to open it up while under house arrest. I don’t think I have ever been any place where the feeling was so electric.This is one place where you can see democracy slowly taking place, after decades of military rule. Some of the highlights besides the people are Bagan, Ngwe Saung Beach, and Rangoon itself.
The New Years Water Festival, called Thingyan, last 4 days, ending on New Years day. This happens in late April. This is the wildest party I have ever been too, and even though its close to a 100 degrees, you will never feel the heat during this time because you will be wet the entire time. New Years day is quiet and relaxed, a time for family and getting blessings from the monks. You can read more about this here: Thingyan.
Rangoon is an interesting city, Buddhist temples intermixed with old Colonial English Architecture, monks mixed with young businessmen, and lots and lots of people. At night the streets burst alive with night markets popping up everywhere. The smell of spices and grilled meats permeates the air, driving my saliva glands wild. We would just wander for hours down alleys, past massive 100 year olds crumbling buildings, through alleys packed with stalls, and markets filled with hand crafted items. Hand painted paper umbrellas, traditional music instruments carved like ferocious beastes, silk dresses and pottery.
Bagan has over 3000 Buddhist temples in the desert. Why there was such a building frenzy no one really knows, but its awesome to climb one of the high ones and gaze out in all directions and just see them in all sizes breaking the horizon. The steps are so steep that it feels like a possible death march to the top, where one slip will send you tumbling down. Inside the temples are shrines to various Buddhist deities.
To top this off is the gorgeous beach of Ngwe Saung beach, which was over 12 miles long, with barely any resorts along it. We looked down the beach both ways, and did not see a single person. It was lovely.
Trust me when I say if you get a chance to go to Myanmar, now is the time to go. You will never meet nicer people in your life. It wont be long before the rest of the world learns how great this country is and swarm it.