Lifestyle & Travel

Nov 1, 2016

THE ASIA´S PEARL

We take you to the heart of an extraordinary country, whose people, friendly and hospitable, and led by thousands of monks, carries a simple and millennial lifestyle. From Yangon to Kalaw, from Mandalay to Ngapali, or from Bagan to Mrauk U, here it is the picture of Myanmar (ancient Burma), in a single trip to the Asia´s Southeast.

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One of the most recommended winter destinations is the former Burma, now Myanmar, especially from October to February, thus escaping the monsoon, which take place between June and September. Country of secrets and mysteries, to discover Myanmar is traveling around the former capital Yangon, to go quietly to the amazing temples of Bagan, to meet the ethnic minorities in Kalow mountains, to admire the fishing art in Lago Inle, to look for the possible luxury from a "resort" in Ngapali, to talk with the resistance in Mandalay, to cross the excentric bridge of "U Bein" and admire the "Golden Stone of Kyaiktiyo", next to Bago.

This country, located between Thailand and Bangladesh, China, India and Laos, home of the Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi, opened doors to tourism very slowly, first with state monopoly, and more recently with small pensions and family restaurants that help the local economy.

With regard to food, in addition to the restaurants of the hotels, it is best to enter the local restaurants and watch the food with your own eyes. The plates are composed mainly, on rice and chicken curry, fish and shrimp, and the latter is used as a seasoning for almost everything. The traditional breakfast is noodle soup with fish, but it's easy to find a European style breakfast. The price of a meal ranges between EUR 1 and EUR 10, one euro equals 9,000 kyats, the local currency and there are no cash machines, so you need to exchange money.

The cosmopolitan Yangon

The smell of incense and the blinding glitter of gold spread around the city. The "Shwedagon", probably the Burmese most visited temple, has nearly sixty meters high, largely solid gold, and thousands of diamonds on top. A treasure in the heart of Yangon. Here coexist peacefully Burmese, Indian and Chinese, that turn it into a very cosmopolitan city. The local people, deeply Buddhist, has a habit of running away to the installed decay and traffic confusion for a moment of prayer, taking refuge sometimes in the shadows of the circular courtyards surrounding the unmistakable temples bell-shaped and covered sheet of gold. Suddenly, the city noises disappear, hearing only the rustle of the clothes of those who prostrate themselves in prayer and the clink of gold leaf stuck on top, creating a magical atmosphere.

Imposing temples

In Bagan, the most visited region of Myanmar, there are more than two thousand temples scattered along the banks of the river "Ayeyarwady", over an area of ​​forty square kilometers. "Shwezigon" or "Ananda" are the most imposing, sacred and well preserved. However, there are many other temples unnamed or not even mapped where there are no queues to get in, only peace that surrounds them.

The exoticism and local life

A day Bagan trip, or in a few hours by plane, comes to Ngapali, where a growing number of tourists in search of primitive exoticism, luxury without luxuries and at reasonable prices. A fine sandy beach line with three kilometers long, bordered by rows of palm trees, resorts and well maintained and pleasant lurking by greenery bungalows. Nearby, there is even a golf course for lovers of the sport. Elements that are sufficient to turn Ngapali one of the nearby sea fashion destinations "Andaman".

Also near the water, Inle Lake strolls between mountains forming a maze of channels sprinkled floating islands where families plant flowers and vegetables. Agriculture, fishing and cigars are the main activities. While the men fish, women wrap the famous cigars with little tobacco and many herbs. In nearby markets, such as "Nyaungshwe," men and women with smeared of tanaka face, a paste made with water and sandalwood, sell the products of the earth, cigars, mysterious green leaves, fat caterpillars already cooked, cookies with unique smell of dried fish and other essentials.

Faith and mountains

In a landscape dominated by rice paddies, buffalos and a relatively dense forest, is located one of the most fascinating regions of Myanmar - Kalaw, in the province Shan. Here are the famous treks in the mountains, and living with ethnic minorities living in rudimentary houses, people both giggly and shy, humble and hospitable.

If faith could move mountains, Myanmar would be one of the world's most flat countries, with endless places of worship. One of the most sacred is the "Golden Stone Kyaiktiyo", which according to local reports, stands on a hair of Buddha that prevents it from falling. Among the pilgrims, many monks with their saffron robes; and nuns dressed in color pink ceham in trucks who stay all day to pray. However, only men can approach the rock for the ritual offering of small squares of gold leaf, materializing their prayers when pressed against the "Stone".

History and resistance

This was the "city of Arakan," where, according with the navigator´s Portuguese reports from XVIth century, rise magnificent temples in the hills. It is said that "Shittaung" ("Temple of Eighty Thousand Pictures"), for example, was built to celebrate the victory against Portuguese attack in 1535.

Although monuments such as the bridge "U Bein" in Amarapura, or "Mingun Pagoda", are references in Mandalay, beauty is not its strong. The second largest Burmese city is considered a cradle of resistance, because it houses the most famous and subversive troupe of comedians in the country that relieves the pain of a people who have lost hope of being free.

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