travel

Burma Beckons (Part 2)

- Give Up Coffee For Beautiful Breasts
- Losing Weight In A Week With Honey
- Treatments For Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy

As a result, I subsequently returned several times, to write a book, to report, to visit friends, and my experiences were of a Heart of Darkness land, fascinating, picturesque and heart-rending in equal measure. Life was laden with a profound sense of unease. There was an incipient look of fear behind people’s eyes. The last time I had been to Burma, I spent my final evening with an old family friend who, shortly after I left, was arrested for owning a fax machine. It was a pretext; he was also involved in political matters. He was elderly and frail. He died in custody about a month later. That was in 1996, which was declared the “Year of Tourism” by the military government. They had orchestrated a swathe of hotel building and road construction – often using forced labour. During that visit I interviewed Aung San Suu Kyi, who was enjoying a period of freedom at the time. I subsequently wrote a report in the Independent on Sunday about her request for tourists not to come to Burma. The income from their visits would simply line the pockets of the junta, she said. And, along with many people in Britain respecting those wishes, I then stayed away.

Description: Aung San Suu Kyi, who was enjoying a period of freedom at the time

Aung San Suu Kyi, who was enjoying a period of freedom at the time

In November 2010 Aung San Suu Kyi was released after a long stint under house arrest. On the eve of her liberation, her party, the NLD (National League for Democracy), reviewed its stance on tourism. It would, its officials said, now be happy for responsible, independent tourists to visit. Just over a year later, in the hazy promise of a new dawn, I returned to Burma.

I arrived to find a country full of hope and welcome. It was a surprise to see how much tourism had developed since my 1996 trip: British visitors may not have been making big inroads, but a ready market had been growing among Asian nations and some European countries too, particularly Italy. Granted, there are no big, global hotel chains – yet. But in the main tourist destinations there’s an array of fairly decent accommodation, and air travel to these districts is easy. Although the capital was moved inland in 2005, Rangoon remains the commercial hub and principal gateway. From that starting point I had planned a trip that would initially take me off the main tourist radar to an area in the east newly opening up to visitors. After that, my route would proceed to what have become the classic sights of Burma, around Inle Lake and the old royal capitals of Mandalay and Bagan. I was accompanied by my sister and guide: not, as in former times, a spook but a genuinely knowledgeable archaeologist. Even though he spoke English well, it took me a day or so to tune into the intrinsically Burmese peculiarities of his outlook: ‘the olden days’, for example, was a frequent allusion which referred at times to the particularly grim period of General Ne Win’s dictatorship from 1962 to 1988, at others to the magnificent era of the 11th- and 12th-century kings.

the particularly grim period of General Ne Win’s dictatorship from 1962 to 1988, at others to the magnificent era of the 11th- and 12th-century kings.

Description: the old royal capitals of Mandalay and Bagan

the old royal capitals of Mandalay and Bagan

We spent a day re-exploring Rangoon, visiting the sublime Shwedagon Pagoda – its 99- metre main golden stupa presiding over the city – and the colonial downtown area where tenacious vegetation cocks a snook at the grandeur of the Victorian-era buildings. Then we set off up country, bobbing over Burma’s central plains on the first of many such scheduled flights in a propeller plane, to the hilly Shan State and the appealingly named little airport of Heho. Our first destination was the town of Kalaw, beautifully set among cool hills clad in fuzzy pines, about two hours’ drive from there. Once a British hill station, it still has an avenue lined with mock-Tudor country houses; squint and you might think, at a pinch, that you were in Surrey. The town’s many pagodas and the large military presence (this is where the top brass are trained, I was told) pull you smartly back into Burma. As does the vibrant market, we wandered through an expansive area with stalls manned by colourful tribal traders from the Shan, Pa-O and Palaung minorities.

Description: Myanmar has a tradition of crafting beautiful things. Take a picture of the crafter making what you purchase

Myanmar has a tradition of crafting beautiful things. Take a picture of the crafter making what you purchase

Top search
Women
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Losing Weight In A Week With Honey
- Can You Eat Crab Meat During Pregnancy?
- 4 Kinds Of Fruit That Can Increase Risk Of Miscarriage
- Some Drinks Pregnant Women Should Say No With
- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy
- Why Do Pregnant Women Have Stomachache When Eating?
- Top Foods That Pregnant Women Should Be Careful Of
- 6 Kinds Of Vegetable That Increase Risk Of Miscarriage
Other
travel
- Chicago - Around Town - Northside (part 3) - Neighborhood Bars,Restaurants
- Chicago - Around Town - Northside (part 2) - Shops
- Chicago - Around Town - Northside (part 1)
- Munich - Around Town : Schwabing & University District (part 3) - Cafés, Bistros & Bars, Restaurants
- Munich - Around Town : Schwabing & University District (part 2) - Best of the Rest, Boutiques & Shops
- Munich - Around Town : Schwabing & University District (part 1)
- Seattle : Around Town - Fremont (part 3) - Shops, Places to Eat
- Seattle : Around Town - Fremont (part 2) - Burke-Gilman Trail Features, Fremont Culture
- Seattle : Around Town - Fremont (part 1)
- Barcelona - Around Town - El Raval (part 3) - Bars & Clubs, Good-Value Eats
- Barcelona - Around Town - El Raval (part 2) - Galleries & Design Shops, Vintage & Second-Hand Shops
- Barcelona - Around Town - El Raval (part 1)
- Waterworld : Hotel Eden Roc, One & Only Le Saint Geran, Wyndham Rio Mar Beach
- Madagascar … A Delightfully Dirty Detour
- Holidays With A Heart (Part 2) - Sarah Kershaw Hops on her fundraising bike and pedals 400km in Southeast Asia
- Holidays With A Heart (Part 1) - Harriet Stigner – Braves saddle sores on a six-day horse ride in India
- Toronto - Around Town - East (part 2) - St. Lawrence Market, Shopping East
- Toronto - Around Town - East (part 1)
- Boston - Around Town : Back Bay (part 4) - Nightclubs & Bars, Restaurants
- Boston - Around Town : Back Bay (part 3) - Shops to Drain your Bank Account, Alfresco Scenes
 
30 Love Quotes for Boyfriends
women
Top keywords
women
Miscarriage Pregnant Pregnancy Pregnancy day by day Pregnancy week by week Losing Weight Stress Placenta Makeup Collection
Women
Top 5
women
- Cinnamon: A natural treatment for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
- 5 Tips for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy
- Four Natural Ways Alternative Medicine Can Help You Get Pregnant (part 2)
- Four Natural Ways Alternative Medicine Can Help You Get Pregnant (part 1)
- Is Your Mental Health Causing You to Gain Weight (part 2) - Bipolar Disorder Associated with Weight Gain