Tag Archives: rangoon

Shwedagon Paya on New Year's Eve 2015.

Cities of the Burmese Heartland: Yangon and Mandalay

Myanmar is one of my absolute favorite countries to travel in. I had first visited in January 1995 when the country was very much a pariah state. Although the country was open for travelers, there were severe restrictions on where you could travel. The country was lead by a military junta, who ran a quasi-Orwellian state. The Independence leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was under house arrest and she had recommended that travelers stay away to help maintain worldwide sanctions on the country’s government. The country was isolated, desperately poor, and difficult to get around. The black market rate ran at twenty times the official rate, and the only place to change money was at local markets. Transport was awful, decent accommodation hard to find, and even getting a proper Burmese meal was tricky. However, this trip remains one of the highlights of my life and started an obsession with Asia that continues to this day. I returned again in 2000 and again that trip was extremely memorable. To say I had high hopes for this trip is the understatement of the year!

The visit was also bittersweet for me. I was looking forward to visiting on the 21st anniversary … Read more