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Published: April 12th 2013
Our last day in Myanmar and here we are in Kengtung, an old British enclave and the largest town in Shan State, home to many minority groups including the Akha people. Kengtung is also the capital of the Golden Triangle, being only 2 hours from China and 3 hours from Thailand. Our arrival has coincided with the start of the Burmese New Year celebrations, also known as Thingyan Water Festival; so far we have avoided being soaked but Eve is keen to buy a water pistol and join in the fun ! The celebrations will still be in full swing in Chiang Rai and then in Laos as we pass through on our next journey, so water pistols might be a useful investment...
So we are saying ta-tar to Myanmar, with great regrets in having to leave the country. All three of us feel almost overwhelmed by the experiences that we have had during our brief stay, these are certainly too many to write down. Highlights have included: watching sunset over the hundreds of stupas scattered across the countryside in Bagan, walking around the Shwedogan Pagoda at night, with its glittering gold and the atmospheric sounds of the gongs and
Nuns at Nyaung Shwe
Everyone we saw in Myanmar had a smile for us
chanting prayers in the background; admiring how many people and goods could be squashed into and on top of a bus at once; and finally the friendly welcome that we have received everywhere that we have travelled. We feel fortunate to have had these experiences with the people, their way of life, culture and religion now before the negative effects of westernisation and tourism take hold. This is undoubtedly going to happen and sooner rather than later. Visitors in 5 years time may have a different experience, perhaps with improved roads and services but will it be the same cultural experience that we have enjoyed or in the same relaxed and friendly atmosphere ? During our stay on (actually on, in stilted cottages!) Inle Lake we could see an enormous scar on the hillside indicating a new hotel complex under construction. In a few areas children came running up to us begging for money. The dilemma is that the country needs visitors to fund much needed improvements in infrastructure, the provision of clean water, etc., but can this be achieved without destroying the heart and soul of the country's people ?
Tomorrow we start the long journey overland to
Thailand and then on to Laos via boat on the Mekong River. Eve's Blog
My time in Myanmar was amazing and lots of fun ! Most of all I liked the people who were all very friendly and I loved waving to the children. They are very poor and even though they have no toys or smart clothes the children are happy with what they have. They are on school holidays now but they still have to help working in the fields or washing clothes or collecting water from the well.
We rode in six different forms of transport and I mostly enjoyed the horse and cart, canoe and trishaw ride. I found the food very spicy but the mango, guava and pineapple juices were all scrummy and the bananas were small but deliciously sweet. I was sad to see so much slash and burn in the countryside.
If I could bring something back to Myanmar I would bring clean water for everyone.
I have learnt that the Burmese people make use of bamboo for lots of things :
5. Plates and cups
10. Fishing baskets
13. Flip flops
18. Knitting needles
I am sure that there are many more !
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