- 20d1 Myanmar
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Though Buddhist culture is felt in all corners of the civilized world, it is truly lived in south-east Asia. To preserve both the buildings and the building blocks of a great heritage, strong adherence to fundamentals should be observed. Myanmar (also called Burma) lies in the Indo-China peninsula, north-west of Thailand and south of China. India and the Bay of Bengal form its western border. Bangladesh and Laos also rub shoulders. The geography spans mountains, uplands, plains and coastal areas.
In these lands, history is inscribed in temples, monasteries and pagodas. The various invaders settled here to build a powerful kingdom based at Pagan that pulsated for a millennium. Incorporation by the British led to a colonial era that culminated in being ravaged by the warring sides during the Second World War. The political misfortune has continued in the form of military dictatorship and martial rule by the junta in phases.
The dominant Buddhism has given Myanmar its cultural weight. Whether one sticks to the major towns like Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan or venture into the countryside, one will always be struck by the richness of a civilization that has seen much pain and suffering. The former capital city of Yangon is home to numerous pagodas that rise in metallic magnificence. Their sight under the sun warms the heart.
The legacy of British occupation lingers in the form of colonial architecture in various parts of the city. Some of them have been renovated in the form of hotels where one can spend enough time. The commercial districts are a good place to shop for gems, lacquer ware and Antique goods. Tapestries and textiles also figure in the must-have list. Mandalay is the ancient capital city of the Konbaung Dynasty. It has been raised around the Mandalay Royal Palace. The archaeological zone of Bagan is in fact a forest of pagodas by the Ayeyarwady River.
Smaller towns also feature the historical imprints and cultural marks. Mrauk U is the remnant of the Rakhine Kingdom and Pyay hosts Sri Kittara - the archaeological site for the 2000-year old Pyu capital. Kengtung is any anthropologist's delight with its black-teeth Ann and Akha tribes. One can get drunk with natural magnificence by the Inle Lake and Mount Popa - an extinct volcano.
Getting around may be an issue for the luxury traveler. The best bet is a good seat on the buses or a front-seat ride in the pick-ups. Between the cities, trains score higher on speed and comfort meters. Noodles are served in many delicious ways. The dishes that deserve attention are Mohinga, Onnokauswe and Mee swan.
Myanmar Traveler Advice
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