Eighteen nights in Burma/Myanmar has come to an end. A few people have asked if I thought it was similar to other Asian countries I have visited. There are similarities of course, but overall Myanmar is its own place. It is not a country that you can just show up on a whim, research and planning should be done ahead of time. The money is an issue, having to make sure that you have enough perfect USD for the duration of your trip as no ATMS travelers checks or credit cards work here for foreigners. The tourism has gone up 25% last year and they expect it to rise another 25% this year. The problem is that the Country does not have the info structure to support any more tourists. As it is most flights are full as well as the hotels. You are best to book ahead of time or you could find yourself without a room or flight. There in lies another problem as you can’t book these yourself as they don’t take credit cards, or rather your credit card company won’t let you use it in Myanmar, or your bank for that matter. You are best of to use a travel agent based in Myanmar who will book your hotels and flights, then you wire a deposit to their bank in Thailand. And then there is the visa process. All of this is supposed to change in the near future and become easier for tourists as they want to encourage tourism and putting on a façade that things are changing in the country so that people will come.
What I loved about Myanmar:
The people were wonderful. We never heard a cross word or met anyone who was not helpful. Everyone was completely genuine and wanted to help us at all times.
A smile was always returned with a smile and a wave.
The sights, the temples, the ruins and the lake. The scenery was breathtaking.
We learned so much about the history and the people of Myanmar
We felt safe at all times and well taken care of.
What seems like chaos when you arrive you quickly realize that it is a dance and it all works.
What I did not like about Myanmar
The noise, the smog the smoke from the constant burning and the dust
We preferred the countryside to the cities, not liking Mandalay or Yangon.
Whenever we told someone at a restaurant or hotel that we were from Canada they would put on Justin Beiber songs.
The fact that the country is rich in natural resources such as oil, precious gems and minerals, but the Government (Military) sells them all to the Chinese and does not share any of the wealth with the people of Myanmar.
That the people can not speak out without fear of going to jail.
In summary we had an amazing time in Myanmar and so glad that we came.
So now it is on to Thailand for some R and R for the next 8 nights.