Burma (Myanmar) – the Golden Land
Discover Burma, a traditional, deeply spiritual society only just opening to the outside world. You’ll visit cities, lakes, hill stations, rivers and temples, you’ll travel by long- tail teak boats, on its slow charming railways and even by horse and cart between thousand year-old pagodas scattered across the serene plains of Pagan.
Burma is the preserve of the discerning visitor, so now is the time to visit, experiencing its true authenticity before it inevitably takes its place on the tourist map.
You can travel by internal flights, long-tail teak boats and on charmingly slow railways. You can even go by horse and cart between thousand year old pagodas scattered across Pagan’s serene plains. High in the eastern hill country is the vast Inle Lake, its mirror-like surface reflecting the surrounding verdant landscape and lakeside stilt villages full of fascinating little workshops and colourful markets. We are discovering quintessential rural Burma, where traditional dress is the norm and cars are a rarity. With over 130 ethnic groups, Burma’s people are incredibly diverse. You’ll see the Intha, the Shan and the intriguingly named Pa-O tribes.
However, one homogenous trait exists that will delight – complete genuine friendliness, engaging ever-smiling faces and delightful children who are ever-curious about their visitors. Burmese cuisine is unknown outside its borders – a fascinating fusion of Indian, Thai and Chinese influences, with plenty of noodle, rice-based dishes and curries, milder than Indian and extremely tasty. And for desert, try some fermented tea-leaves – an acquired taste!
Rangoon (Yangon), Burma’s colonial capital with several Victorian buildings to see in between the busy traditional markets and fascinating street life. The highlight though is the astonishing Shwedagon pagoda, arguably Asia’s greatest Buddhist temple, rising like a vast gleaming golden finger puncturing the sky. Glowing beautifully in the sun it dominates the entire city.
Mandalay, Burma’s second city, full of industrious workshops and tree-shaded monasteries it’s overlooked by Mandalay Hill, site of a fierce battle at the end of World War Two, but now better known as the gathering place for friendly orange-clad monks, always keen to welcome you and practice their English on their welcome visitors.
Maymyo. Founded by the British, cool and peaceful, with numerous halftimbered houses and bungalows which would not be out of place in rural Britain, it’s a glimpse into a lost colonial world.
Pagan, the country’s most classic sight – an enormous plain, staggeringly studded with over 3,000 ancient pagodas and stupas of all shapes and sizes. Bordered by the Irrawaddy River, this was Burma’s hugely wealthy, 13th century capital and these shrines are the only remains of a once enormous city. Dependant on the time of year, you’ll have the opportunity of an optional sunrise hot-air balloon flight over the temples, just as the mist and plumes of wood-smoke rise from the plain below – an unforgettably magical and unique experience. So come with us to discover an astonishing and timeless land striving to join the modern world but on its own terms; a land of huge variety in topography and culture; a land rich in fascinating history and steeped in two thousand years of Buddhist belief – Burma, the golden land.
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