Myanmar (Burma) is a remote country in Southeast Asia. It’s a country that is isolated from the rest of the world for both geological and political reasons. Travelers here are rewarded with very friendly people, and a culture set apart. The years of isolation mean that Myanmar is one of the only places you can still experience true “old Asia” culture.
Myanmar has had some recent elections and I’ve had a friend ask me about traveling there, so it’s a place that’s been on my mind. I went through some old images that I photographed there, and thought I’d share.
To read more about the plight of Myanmar, have a look at the wiki page.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about “What camera did you use?” I’m very happy to tell you that all of these photos are over 5 years old. All are shot with an (ancient) Nikon D70. Lenses used are: a Sigma 10-20mm f/4, a Nikkor 35mm f/2, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, and a Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8... I hope this goes to show that you don’t need the most expensive equipment to get good results!
I hadn’t planned on this becoming such a popular post. If I had known that it would be, I would have given much more information about the places that these images were shot, and my general thoughts on Myanmar. So here goes a brief:
Basically, Myanmar is a stunningly beautiful country with some of the most friendly and sincere people I have met in all my travels. The sites are just as beautiful. The few photos that I have above are just a small sampling of what the country has to offer, there are many more beautiful places to be seen. Unfortunately, all this beauty is ruled by a horrible military dictatorship that refuses to give up control. The government brutally crushes even the smallest opposition through imprisonment, torture, and murder. Even those that don’t pose a threat can find themselves as forced labor in the “development” of the country.
Myanmar is in the news right now because of the first “elections” to be held in 20 years. The last elections were a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi and her democratic movement, who were never allowed to take power and weren’t allowed to run in this election.
But despite all the terrible doings of the government, Myanmar is a beautiful place to visit. The people are warm and friendly and show a dignity and openness that make you forget just how oppressed they are. They are hungry for knowledge and interactions with people from the outside world are truly a treat for them.
Traveling in Myanmar is definitely not for the faint. The roads (and buses) are in terrible shape. It takes about 18 bone-crushing, sweaty, dusty hours to make it from Rangoon to Mandalay on a bus. There are two paved roads that lead from the south to the north and most travelers take them in a clock-wise or counter-clock-wise route to see most of the attractions. Accommodations are fairly easy to find with a travel guide and the food is generally pretty good. I spent one month there and could have easily spent three. Don’t even plan on going if you can’t stay for more than two weeks… you will really regret it. Don’t worry about money, I only spent $400USD in a month and I really wasn’t trying to save.
You have to go to Bangkok to get a visa then fly to Rangoon from there. There are domestic flights in Myanmar, but I’ve heard they have one of the worst safety records in the world. Also, I’ve heard that the airlines and train (don’t even think about it) are owned by the government, so if you use them, you’re giving money directly to the dictatorship.
Honestly, if you LOVE to travel (and don’t mind roughing it), Myanmar should be on the top of your list of places to visit.
Thanks again for all the kind words!