Myanmar people are beautiful, continually smile and a pleasure to be in the company of.
It’s all about the people.
Myanmar is 85% Buddhist 7% Muslim & 7% Christian, the North is rural and agriculture and subsistence seems to still be the way of life but the surge of tourism is evident and I’m sure even these outlying areas will have tarmac roads ferrying the tourist around soon.
The food has been top quality everywhere, without doubt the best food so far on this trip.
The population is 52 million of which 7 million live in the old Capitol of Yangon. In 2005 the Capitol moved to Naypyidaw where like many new cities it has wide new roads with no cars and new hotels and government building with few people about. The military ruled Myanmar until 2010, now there is a president which is great but still the military have 25% of the seats in government and if the military don’t want a law passed it won’t be! The military was so heavy on individuals who spoke out against regime people were sent to prison or killed. Today it is more relaxed but the military still have a massive influence over the government and people. Only 2 – 3% of government revenue is spent on education and health, whereas 45% is spent on the military.
Myanmar has opened up to tourism far more than I envisaged but it has a long way to go before it will have the mass tourism seen in other SE Asian countries nearby. In 2012 there were 1 million tourists and 2013 2 million tourists, to put these numbers into context Thailand, Myanmar’s neighbour had 26.5 million tourist in 2013 and is the 10th most visited country in the world.
The majority of tourists in Myanmar are from USA, England, France & Germany and they visit 4 tourist attractions, Bagan vallley with 2,200 pagodas, Inle lake, Yangon and The Golden rock, away from these attractions I didn’t see any tourists.
Myanmar has invested in infrastructure, and the roads in the south are very good, however roads in the north are not always good and some are no more than dirt tracks. There are ‘no-go’ areas where there is conflict and fighting between local tribes in the East and North East.
Myanmar is clean and quiet where unlike India cars don’t constantly beep their horns. There are no motorbikes in Yangon as in 2000 a motorcyclist shot a military General, this has lead to the Generals living in fear of assassination and banning motorbikes from the city. Cars drive on the right side of the road but 90% of cars are right hand drive as they have been brought 2nd hand from Japan. Crazy!
In summary Myanmar is moving away from military rule to democracy but has a way still to go. Tourists are here but not everywhere and I wonder how free they are to roam where they want. Come to Myanmar now before it turns into the next ‘Thailand’.
Myanmar feels like a country on the up.
Myanmar is the land of smiles.