What is it about Burma that made me want to go there in the first place?
I have a couple of good Burmese friends who speak both passionately and sadly about their ‘beautiful’ country. That may have had a bearing on it.
I possessed a compelling sense of the ‘unknown’; the thrill of discovering for myself the romance of Rudyard Kipling and the old Road to Mandalay with plains and hilltops covered in pagodas. I wanted to see the remnants of ‘Days of Empire’ in Old Rangoon. Take tea, or down a cold beer under whirling ceiling fans in the vaunted Strand Hotel in Yangon. The thought of riding in a hot-air ‘Balloon over Bagan’ to look down on the thousands of stupas literally blew me away.
Overall, it was probably the chance to taste of a ‘forbidden fruit’;
travelling to a country with much-publicised human rights issues, and arguments for and against travel. I’m more a proponent for going there; meeting the people; and trying to understand the situation for myself. I know from my recent experiences in other countries with questionable human-rights records like Cuba, Libya, East Timor and even China that local people feel a sense of reassurance and renewed hope for the future through contact with a friendly foreign visitor; there’s also that important reassurance that they’re not forgotten.
For all of the ‘romance’ and sense of adventure, I’m not anything if not practical. I had the chance to travel into Burma with the perceived ‘safety’ of a respected western travel operator, Orient-Express, staying at the Governor’s Residence in Yangon before floating down the Irrawaddy on their much talked-about river cruiser ‘The Road to Mandalay’. This in itself conjures in my mind such romantic memories of bygone days.
Click here to read my Burma Book Story. (It may take 30 seconds to download.)
Picasa Slideshow – Life on Inle Lake
Picasa Slideshow – Yangon
Cracked and Crumbling Jungle Stupas of Indein
CAPTIONS STILL TO COME:
Picasa Slideshow – ‘The Road to Mandalay’
Picasa Slideshow – The Kingdom of Bagan