The land of immortality. The land of gems. The golden land, because of its thousands of golden pagodas and fiery sunsets. Burma, now Myanmar, is known by many names.
But perhaps Rudyard Kipling described it best when he wrote:
“This is Burma and it [is] quite unlike any land you know about.”
~ Rudyard Kipling, Letters from the East (1898)
For now, it is a landscape that time and modern civilization has forgotten. A place for Myanmar monks… and memories.
In the capital of Yangon (formerly Rangoon), neglected mansions with broken window panes hint at their former colonial-era glory days.
In the once-magnificent kingdom of Bagan, ox-carts thread their way around the more than 2,500 crumbling red-brick temples and pagodas, built between 1044 and 1287. (With a little imagination, you can envision the “gilded city, alive with tinkling bells and the swishing sounds of monks’ robes” that Marco Polo once wrote of.)
On the banks of the Irrawaddy River, “sand people” sell sand up and down the muddy river.
With the recent swell in tourism and influx of development money, Burma is bound to change. It’s a country you therefore might want to visit soon, while still relatively untouched by the outside world.
While foraging through my old photos, I found these pics of my visit to Myanmar several years ago with my mother – reminding me of this special land, so different from any I’ve ever yet known…
Update October 15, 2016
Since writing this piece, I’ve returned to Myanmar with George. A highlight? We took a leisurely 8-night river cruise from Yangon up to Bagan. You can read about this exotic trip and see many more photos in “Immersed in Myanmar on the Belmond Orcaella.” Enjoy!