Travel all over Myanmar.Go now, but not for the reasons you think

The country will surprise you. Like people, you think you know who they are based on the stories you read or the images you look at. Whether forming an opinion from a 19th century novel or from shameful modern life, whether it’s an impressionist painting or a series of out-of-focus Trip Advisor member photos, humans have been unfairly Judge places and each other because of centuries. It’s an imperfect system. However, it is our decisions about where to go, what to eat and whom to meet. The same goes for Myanmar for me.

I figured I needed to go to the Asian country formerly known as Myanmar lest Chinese builders destroy any remaining “authentic” local character by quickly throwing out bland construction projects to meet a surge in tourism. I think Myanmar lacks the supermodel good looks of the California coast or the scenic beauty of the Swiss Alps, but having the opportunity to witness an intact culture before the inevitable sweeping and tragic transition to all things Western will provide a valuable balance. Once I decided to go, suddenly I was in a rush to get there before it was “ruined”, but then I wondered if backpackers had already walked a road from Yangon to Inle Lake to Mandalay to Bagan to Utah Old and man-made tourist trails in Burli Beach. Do I need to protect my camera from the constant dust? Bring antibiotics and medication for the inevitable food poisoning? Expect flights to be cancelled, and never have a moment to relax (is this a holiday or an adventure?) as it’s a rapidly developing country struggling with crumbling infrastructure?

Gallery: Journey to Myanmar

48 images

Because very few mainstream travel magazine writers have seen or reported on the country’s interior, other than to give a history lesson and then a call to action “Get there now!” (because readers obviously prefer stories about Provence or Tuscany reports), general information about Myanmar is a jumble of warnings and hard-won insights from consumer travel reports posted on traveler message boards such as

I planned the two week trip myself. It took several months. I read every blog, book, article and travel agency website available to determine my itinerary. I travel during Christmas and New Years. (Again!) Heeding warnings about stiff competition, lack of rooms around the holidays, and high seasonal tariffs prompted me to book everything 10 months in advance. The only time I use a travel agent is for a KBZ airline flight (zero delays or cancellations). But when I landed in December 2015/January 2016, flights were already widely available to book online. I booked some hotels with and others I booked direct. It’s easier than ever for independent travelers to get into Myanmar.

What did I find when I arrived?An unexpectedly beautiful and peaceful beach, on par with Thailand , situated on the coast of the Andaman Sea. I started the trip in Ngapali to decompress from the long flight and layover in Beijing. This is the right choice.

I’ve also experienced calm and chaos. Subtle beauty and ugly trash. Kindness, grace, humility and honesty from a people who have long been subject to a brutal regime. Religious culture has been maintained for thousands of years. A culinary tradition worthy of a New York restaurant, but best enjoyed on the spot. Textiles and lacquerware meticulously handcrafted by artisans preserving priceless traditions found anywhere else will be outsourced to China at cheap prices and sold to naive tourists. Rangoon’s crumbling colonial buildings, which anywhere else might have been preserved for their architectural merit, are overlooked in Myanmar as reminders of the horrific British rule. I found a wine business! There is also an emerging but promising coffee region in Shan State. I have come across hypocrisy and open-mindedness. The perfect, mildest, better than California weather, but only in December and January. (I’ve heard it was unbearably hot at other times of the year.) I saw the brutality of the inevitability implicit in impoverished farming life. I felt peace and awe, a discovery of my humility, an acknowledgment of my privilege. I found happy, laughing, playful kids.

I’m not going to write about Burma or tell you about the invaders, the king, the British, the military government, the nice lunch I had or the fancy new hotel in Yangon. But I will tell you, I love Myanmar. This country and its people challenged my misconceptions, made me see and think in a delightfully insightful way, and pushed real travelers — not tourists — to keep exploring.

So, if I’m not writing a story, then I’m not going to tell you why you need to go to Myanmar. But I’m going to show you what my journey looks like (slideshow above), and hopefully the impressions you form are positive enough to encourage you to make new ones. personally.

Logistics and accommodation

United: I used my miles to purchase a ticket on Star Alliance partner Air China. The route is from Kennedy Airport to Beijing, Beijing to Yangon, and the return journey is the same.

Air KBZ: Offers all internal flights. No cancellations, no delays, friendly service!

One Stop Myanmar: Travel agency based in Yangon I used to book domestic flights. I paid the agent Thiri in cash upon arrival at the airport. Yes, I was skeptical, but everything works flawlessly. Email:

Bayview Beach Resort Ngaburi Beach

Hotels in Tharabar Gate, Bagan

Paukan Cruises, Ayeyarwady River Cruise Boutique Ship from Bagan to Mandalay

Red Canal Hotel Mandalay

Inle Princess Resort, Inle Lake

The Savoy, Yangon

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