I’m following a monk through bushes in the middle of nowhere, Myanmar. Seriously? This is my life? I grinned for the zillionth time in Mrauk-U, a place hard to reach in conflict-torn western Rakhine state as the monk led me uphill, branches scratching my already torn-up limbs as they slapped and scraped against me. When the “trail” cleared and we reached the top, he turned and smiled. “Nine stupas. Monastery.
Bagan is the reason some people go to Myanmar and it’s unquestionably beautiful. Ancient temples dot the arid plains of the former capital of the Kingdom of Pagan near the Irawaddy River dating back to the 9th century. As with our post about Angkor Wat, I’m not going into the history, architecture, or much detail about the temples of Bagan. I have neither the expertise nor authority to do so
Almost certainly Myanmar’s most touristy area, Inle Lake won three nights of our time with my parents, and for good reason. It’s a beautiful place with – at least in August – delicious tomatoes and surprisingly good local wine. Plus temples, stupas, markets, floating gardens, multiple ethnic groups happy to sell you their wares, fishermen still willing to pose for photos, traditional artisans demonstrating their craft for all who stop
Pyin Oo Lwin, formerly known as Maymyo, was once a British hill station ideal for escaping the Mandalay heat. When I read about it, I immediately thought of Dalat, Vietnam, a mountain resort town the French used to escape Saigon’s sweltering summers. Like Dalat, there are beautiful gardens, a nice market, local wine, motorbike drivers willing to take tourists to nearby waterfalls and other sights, and accommodation options ranging from
Kengtung, Keng Tung, Kyaingtong, Kyaing Tong, Chiang Tung: same place, different spellings and pronunciations. The first is what the locals call it as many speak a Shan language (and also the Myanmar language spoken around the country). Kyaingtong, according to at least one local resident, is the official name given by the government and the first two letters make a j-like sound. Whether there should be a space between the
“You have to go to Myanmar. And when you do, you have to get off the beaten track.” So said a friend of ours when we told him we’d be spending a few months in Southeast Asia this year. “It’s amazing, the most incredible place I’ve ever been.” “The people are so wonderful.” “It’s unlike anywhere else.” “I stayed as long as I could and wish it had been longer.”