The more weathered and experienced of travelers can claim familiarity with Thai markets, Japanese tea ceremonies and the archaeological treasures of China. But what about those smaller countries in Asia that have received less tourist and media attention? This week we are taking a look at three countries popping up more and more on the traveler’s radar: Bhutan, Bali, and Burma (aka Myanmar). Our wandering eyes are just peeking through to these unique, captivating and spectacular cultures.
Burma, or Myanmar as it is now known, is a country emerging from political turmoil. For nearly fifty years under the isolationist dictatorship of politician Ne Win, Burma has remained impoverished and underdeveloped state. Since 2011 however, the government has been instigating new reforms, leading to a flood of liberties and booming economy. International audiences are becoming more and more familiar with Burma—last year, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visited the country to discuss state development, and earlier this year, theatres released the feature film “The Lady,” which focuses on Nobel Prize winner and democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to popularity and power.
Since Myanmar is young by tourism standards, much of its cultural heritage is still unspoiled—the countryside is pristine, sarongs are the norm, and throngs of tourists have not yet arrived with buses and hostels. In this country guests can get a true sense of the locals and lifestyles without suffering any inundation of tourist culture.
Willamette International Travel works with vendors to organize small group and individual travel to Burma. These tours are hosted by cultural experts that offer a deep and comprehensive knowledge of the history and land. The tours offer a fantastic opportunity to explore Myanmar’s rich heritage of architecture, lacquer, music, dance and textiles; your host will enlighten travelers about floating farms, holy sites, and the breathtaking Plain of Pagodas. The journey highlights Burma’s cities, the Irrawaddy River aboard the Road to Mandalay, and Inle Lake. Guests may attend a cooking lesson in a private home and or enjoy the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival and a traditional puppet performance. Visit Kengtung and the Ann people, known for their black teeth, take a pilgrimage to the gilded rock of Kyaiktiko, or see the magnificent extinct volcano Mount Popa. There’s even an option post-tour hot-air balloon ride over the plains.
Don’t miss the delicious cuisine, a mélange of seafood, vermicelli noodles, tea leaves, and the unique Burmese curry, traditionally less spicy than its Indian or Thai counterparts. For a treat, try Yenwejan tea or Toddy juice, a drink made from fermented palm sugar.
For some great recommendations on tours and/or flights to Burma/Myanmar, contact Willamette International Travel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503.224.0180.Tune in Wednesday for our next destination, Bali.