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Myanmar

Myanmar is, quite simply, Asia’s hidden gem. This is a land with 2,500 years of history; where the men still wear traditional Longi’s (skirts) and ox-carts and bicycles litter the streets. It is also a treasure trove of delights.

Wonder in awe at the 2,000 temples that make up Bagan, observe Buddhist rituals at the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda, marvel at the fishermen’s skill on Inle Lake and discover the country’s best kept secret – Ngpali Beach. And for a real lateral escape, visit Mrauk U. Take time to meet with the Burmese. They will leave some of the richest memories; the gentle, shy smile from a child that turns to giggles and laughter and the older men and women so eager to talk and learn and listen. To quote Rudyard Kipling, “(Burma)… is quite unlike any land that you know about”.

Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is often the arrival point. Dominating the city is the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. Glittering bright gold in the harsh daytime sun it turns a delicate crimson gold come evening. Wandering around its inner sanctums you will gain an inkling into the role Buddhism plays in the Burmese way of life.

A stroll along Pansodan Street will reveal the decayed grandeur of former colonial buildings still in use. The nearby markets will satisfy the most ardent of shoppers with their eclectic selection of curious items, including magazines from the 1960’s.

As the sun rises and the mist disperses, take a boat out on the river and marvel at the artistry of the fishermen as they row using one foot in a snake like motion and cast their nets so they fall like petals on the water.

Burma’s greatest architectural site is Bagan. Temples and spires stretch as far as the eye can see. Be spell bound as you fly in a hot air balloon over the temples and watch as the light changes the landscape from a golden hue to a dusky amber and then a deep purple. Explore further by day and marvel at the craftsmanship, hidden stairways and colourful murals. Remember that all this was created in only 250 years.

Sometimes referred to as ‘little Bagan’, Mrauk U is definitely a lateral trip. Rarely visited by tourists, it cannot fail to delight. Sharing the land in peaceful harmony with the inspiring temples are goat herders and farmers. The boat ride to get there is a trip in itself.

Another timewarptime warp can be discovered at Inle Lake. It is home to stilted house villages, floating gardens and a wonderful travelling market.

As the sun rises and the mist disperses, take a boat out on the river and marvel at the artistry of the fishermen as they row using one foot in a snake like motion and cast their nets so they fall like petals on the water.

Situated on the Bay of Bengal, and a world away from the awe-inspiring pagodas and temples is Ngapali beach. It is the prefect place to unwind, relax and be indulged. Your only companions on the palm fringed, white sand beach will be the local fishermen and the odd ox.