„Burma, the land where people are happy, dancing and singing“
Initial contact with the Burmese
15th of November 2014, it is time. I am in the line-up, ready to take off. I’m heading to Yangon with two stops in Abu Dhabi and Bangkok. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. Talking with family members, who have been there as far as 30 years ago, I’ve developed some sort of fantasies about this country. A country supposedly untouched, with few tourists, authentic people, living like we used to 50 years ago. In brief, a country un-spoilt from mass tourism. Some of them told me to hurry up if I wanted to see the country before it has changed for good (or bad).
So let me clear something right away, yes it is now very touristic. Yes there are ATMs and WiFi (almost) everywhere. Yes you can read your local newspaper on your tablet every morning. And yes, there are average Joes (and often rude Joes) touring the country in air-conditioned buses, stepping out to take a picture and getting back on almost straight after. So yes it has changed and yes you can already witness the negative externalities of tourism: noise, garbage soiling beautiful landscapes, etc..
BUT, you can also decide not to take the paved roads. In many big cities, there are literally still many unpaved roads anyway. Yes, Burmese are amazingly friendly and will not try to rip you off, every time you buy something or take a cab, bearing in mind that tourism is a great opportunity for them to make a dime or two -> many still live off 2$/day). And damn the WiFi is slow and many of those ATMs don’t work properly. So it is definitely worth seeing and still will be in the next years. The question is now, how it will evolve over the next decade…
So back to square one, the plane has landed in Yangon. It’s 9PM and temperature is reaching easily 30 Deg Celsius. The first two nights in Yangon have been booked. For the rest, I have (almost) an open road: I know what I want to see (Inle Lake, Bagan, Mandalay) and the hot-air balloon flight has been booked for the 29th. But the rest is undecided and I’m ready to live life to the full. Let’s see where the journey is taking me!
I hope you’ll enjoy the trip as much as I did. Stay tuned for the next episode and thanks for watching, commenting, etc.
P.S. To see all the pictures (full size), click on the previews.