Myanmar (Burma) is being applauded for fighting carbon emissions and having the lowest carbon in the entire world. All credit going to the spreads of green landscapes and a simple lifestyle in the land. When you walk on the lands of Myanmar, you will reminiscent of how simple, beautiful and talented our surroundings used to be. Evolving with the present world by moving towards democracy, the Aung San Suu Kyi led country has the best preserved Asian culture, spectacular landscapes and architecture and Spartan kind of lifestyle. You will not only witness all this on your visit, but also feel the strong and pure Buddhist devotion in the air as you walk around.
Yangoon is the biggest city here which is quite like a Chinatown in any of the western countries – hustling and bustling. You will be walking down crowded streets where old people are chewing on betel leaves, men and women hurrying in the local attire, trishaws blowing horns and umpteen tea houses. Amidst this entire chaos, you will find footprints of the charming British colonial past in shape of the several buildings present. But the most imposing structure of this city is the Shwedagon Pagoda. The holiest site in all of Myanmar, the bright gold central stupa will stun you! Don’t mistake it to be gold leaf; the tomb is made of solid blocks or plates of gold and its apex is decorated with dazzling jewels. The Burmese claim that this stupa is valued higher than the reserves of Bank of England. Whether more in value or not, the site is considered the most sacred for all Buddhists.
Another religious site in the country is Kyaiktiyo. An enormous rock covered with gold leaf stands dangerously on the edge of Mount Kyaiktiyo. It appears like it will roll down and sweep the dense green landscapes in a whoosh, but since history is recorded this boulder has stood strong in its place. It is said that a pilgrimage to this scared destination means wealth and goodness in life. You will be awed by this natural wonder because it is defying gravity with so much conviction.
Since Myanmar is the closest to its ancient Buddhism traditions and unadulterated by all the commercial activities around it, you will definitely enjoy discovering this culture here. Away from all the hype of tourism, the monuments here are untouched and the stories behind it are genuine. To best understand the massive influence and following of Buddhism, you must visit the Pindaya caves. There are over 8000 Buddha’s carved and preserved inside it. The Mawlamyine’s Buddha is the largest reclining Buddha statue in the entire world! The wonderful fact about this 180metre long structure is that it has rooms constructed inside it which teach Buddhism along with a shrine in one of the rooms.
The next region to visit is the Rakhine State; it is is best sighted in boats. This region is home to Mrauk-U which was the imperial capital in the 15th and 16th century and the Chin village. As you float in the water here, you will watch the country unfold on the river – locals hanging around the banks, crowded stalls selling veggies and fruits and transportation of daily goods via boats; it is all so interesting. What’s more is that the landscapes around here are spread out to leave you spellbound!
The idea of romance in Burma is best mirrored in its last royal capital, Mandalay. Even though it is the cultural centre of the country, you will also see glimpses of modernity in its shopping malls, beauty salons and lounges. However, going to Mandalay is mainly to sail on the picturesque Ayeyarwaddy River. The whole world talks about the glory of this majestic river, so you must go and witness its grandeur. The other significance of Mandalay is the historic Bagan Temples which is one of the most prestigious sites on planet Earth. The First Burmese Empire constructed in the 9th to 11th Century, Bagan is all about intricately carved pagodas, stupas and 13,000 temples. The air is so pure and serene that it will certainly take you back in time to appreciate the eye for art that our ancestors possessed. It is a different kind of beautiful view; one you will never see anywhere else.
When you want to see more of the interesting life in Myanmar, you should head to Inle Lake. One of the most popular places to visit, you will be bewildered by the fishermen’s technique here. Locals paddle the boat with one leg and use their hands for fishing; this means that the fishermen are standing on their boats in the middle of the lakes and doing their job like it is quite normal to paddle a boat with legs! It gets exciting when you sail on your boat into a sailing market. You will find cute artefacts, souvenirs and some snacks to cater to tourists in the area; nevertheless the floating markets are a thrilling experience for non-locals.
The numerous pagodas showing off their proud noses in the clean Burmese air, picturesque villages that remind us of life in the 1900s, friendly and happy locals and abandoned temples, all create an innocent and pure essence. This country is ignorant about the fancy mall-life, eight-lane highways zooming with cars, the constant connection with the internet and even cafes. That is the magic of Myanmar that will take you back in time to a world that was completely uncomplicated and close-to-nature