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Market traders at Mahamuni Buddha Temple | by PiktourUK
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Market traders at Mahamuni Buddha Temple

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Myanmar, previously known as Burma, what a surprisingly amazing place. We booked this holiday to get out of our comfort zone of easy beach holidays in the Maldives. There were several times when we wondered why we did it, travel in Myanmar consists mainly of long, sometimes tedious journeys on outdated transport systems. But now, in hindsight, we realise that this was the only way to truly get a feel of how the country and people are living day to day. And by far, more so than any other holiday we have had, the people are the most memorable thing we brought back with us. They are totally charming, polite, honest, resilient, hard working and most of all truly happy people. Their sincerely happy smiles, some of which we thankfully managed to capture in our photo's, are what we mostly remember and will stay with us forever.


We all know, or think we know, about the bad old days of the Burmese regime, so we obviously had a few reservations about what we were letting ourselves in for, but as it turned out, Myanmar must be the safest place we have ever been to. There is zero crime here, 85% of the country are buddhists and all the people seem to be true to Buddha's teachings of compassion, honesty, right mindedness, right living and non-harming to any living thing. Admittedly, although the country is now a democracy, the military still retains a certain amount of power, so I guess there is still an undercurrent going on albeit out of sight of the regular tourist. However, all the people we spoke to are so much happier now, they are more or less free to speak openly, without fear of reprisals and they all feel positive about the path the country is on now.


As for the landscape, what can I say, there is nowhere like it on earth! Outside the cities the whole country seems to be in some sort of 200 year old time warp. The people are mostly farmers on small plots of land using ox carts to plough the fields and living in houses made of bamboo, wood and matting. The wierdest thing is most of them have solar power, mainly for a bit of light and to charge their mobile phones! Everyone is on their phone here.....just like the rest of the world I guess. Also, there are temples, pagodas and stupas everywhere you look, especially in Bagan, which is like the Mecca of Myanmar. We were there for the Full Moon Festival where thousands of Burmese monks and Myanmar people gather from all over the country to celebrate for three days at the Ananda Pagoda in Bagan. After possibly days travelling they stay awake for most of the three days and nights watching entertainment which includes dance, theatre, chants, recitations and singing as well as stand up comedy. Amazing belief.


A word about One Stop Travel & Tours the Myanmar company we booked with. We found them via recommendations on Tripadvisor and so glad we used them. They never asked for a deposit, they booked all our hotels, train & boat journeys, balloon ride and one internal flight all on an email handshake! We just paid them in US Dollars on arrival, saving us thousands on UK travel brochure rates, and they never let us down once. The guides were all good guys and always there to greet us at the various destinations on our tour/trek, sometimes waiting hours when the transport was late. A special thanks to Leo our Yangon guide and Eaint at the One Stop office. After leaving our Nikon Coolpix A camera charger at home we trawled the shops of Yangon eventually finding a replacement.......only to leave it plugged in the wall at our next hotel in Mandalay! We were now a ten hour boat journey away in Bagan, but a call to Eaint at the One Stop office and they got it to us two days later just before we moved on! A huge thank you to all at One Stop as this holiday produced without doubt our most amazing photographs ever!


Myanmar has been open to mainstream tourism for five years now, a lot of the people speak English now so it is relatively easy to holiday there. We are so glad we went there before it really changes, there is still a huge amount of charm and old worldliness about the place that you will not find in any other country. If you are prepared to switch off from the 21st century and just accept it for what it is you will be richly rewarded with amazing memories of a landscape like no other and a fascinating people who are genuinely happy to see you.


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PLEASE NOTE: I take Photographs purely as a hobby these days so am happy to share them with anyone who enjoys them or has a use for them. If you do use them an accreditation would be nice and if you benefit from them financially a donation to would be really nice.


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Taken on December 22, 2015