Myanmar (Burma)

From The Good Tourist


Golden Land

The Burman’s ready kindliness towards the stranger is remarkable, when it is remembered that through failure to spend a token period as a novice in a Buddhist monastery, the foreigner had never quite qualified as a human being.[1]


The golden land that time forgot: When promoting Myanmar[2], holiday brochures and travel guides like to conjure up the image of a mysterious and magical realm with ancient temple cities and pagodas that blend seamlessly with the faded grandeur of colonial architecture. They emphasise the timeless quality of Myanmar, calling it ‘a dreamer’s paradise’, and point out that it is one of the few places that remains unspoilt by mass tourism. This South East Asian country is undeniably beautiful and enigmatic, and it is hard not to be fascinated by Myanmar’s long history, incredible legends, and diverse landscapes just waiting to be explored.

A seasoned traveller, Keith told me that his trip to Burma to celebrate his Ruby wedding anniversary was one of the best holidays of his life. He had entered “Rubies”  into Google expecting Sri Lanka to appear at the top but Myanmar came up. Like many people he had to think twice before he realised that Myanmar and Burma are one and the same. In 2003, Keith initially discarded it as a possible destination as he thought Myanmar was a closed country. But two weeks later a journey on the Irrawaddy was advertised in the Sunday Times by Noble Caledonia, and as one of the trips coincided with his Ruby Wedding Day he booked it.

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[1] Lewis, Norman. Golden Earth: Travels in Burma, 1952

[2] The current regime changed the English name to Myanmar in 1989. It was previously known as Myanmar in Burmese until 1885 when the country came under the control of the British Raj. The  democracy movement prefers to use ‘Burma’ in protest at the unelected military regime’s decision to change the official name of the country. Internationally, both names are recognised.

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