“This is Burma”, wrote Kipling. “It is quite unlike any place you know about.” How right he was, and more than a century later Myanmar remains a world apart. Contemplate 4000 sacred stupas scattered across the plains of Bagan. Stare in disbelief at the golden rock teetering impossibly on the edge of a chasm. Encounter men wearing skirt-like longyi, women smothered in thanaka (traditional make-up) and betel-chewing grannies with blood red juices dripping from their mouths.
Isolated and ostracised by the international community, the country is in the grip of tyrants. Most travellers avoid a visit, backing the boycott, but the long-suffering people are everything the regime is not. Gentle, humorous, engaging, considerate and inquisitive, they want to play a part in the world, and deserve a brighter future. This is the authentic Asia with creaking buses, potholed roads, locals who greet you like long lost family. Forget the internet for a moment and connect with a culture where holy men are more revered than rock stars.
It’s a country that fuels your emotions, stimulates your senses and stays in your soul.