by Brooke Cornetet, Guest Blogger
“It’s hard to put the feel of Burma as a country into words. One thing that is for sure about Burma is that it is a place of mystery.”
Although it is now recognized as Myanmar there is an air of confusion about it within the country because many places are called by their original names before they were changed by the military rule in 1988.I say it is mysterious because it is full of little contradictions. The country seems to be searching for its own identity now that it is allowed many freedoms that it did not have in the past. It is currently in a major state of change and development now as well as it opens its doors to the world and tourism begins trickling in.
Yangon was our first stop in Burma. Fragments of the colonial rule can be seen throughout the architecture. The colonial buildings are either now used by the Burmese government or are guarded to be “preserved” but are really left untouched and decaying. The largest tourist attraction within Yangon however is the Schwedagon, the largest pagoda that is a place of worship and a focal point of many political movements.
In Bagan, temples are strewn across the landscape in different states of age and decay but all the more beautiful in their uniqueness. Hot air balloons rise every morning as the sun does looking over the vast land sprinkled with temples in the hazy warm and all-encompassing light. The temples remain unlike most tourist sites and feel simply like part of the landscape. They collectively have a natural feel and mold into the land.
Waking up at 5am to head to a temple for the sunrise could not be a better start to a day. The sunrise was followed by tea at a Burmese tea shop as locals went about their daily routines. We drank an orange hued tea with sweet condensed milk (a Burmese favorite) and hot fried dough.
Inle lake, one of the biggest tourist destinations,
is a large lake where boats take you around in comfy cushioned chairs along the vast open lake or down narrow side rivers where villagers bathe or do laundry. The lake has many fisherman who row their small wooden boats using one leg to obtain a day’s catch. The lake is also in danger as outsiders enter the country and tourism begins booming. Fisherman are having much more trouble catching fish because they are not in abundance anymore due to pollution and pesticides affecting the water.
Burma jumping into modern day
Burma is jumping out of an oppressive military rule into modern day globalization and changes are occurring in a very fast pace. The country is in such a mixed state because I think it does not have a hold on its identity yet and has many changes as a country to come. Tourism has many pros and cons for the country of Burma but in its present state it still remains quite beautifully untouched in its culture and landscape by the outside world.
Guest blogger, Brooke Cornetet, recently graduated from High Point University and immediately took off for a year of traveling in Asia, camera in hand. She has explored Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma and is currently in India on a program called Rustic Pathways. We hope she keeps shooting photos wherever she goes.