Exploring Myanmar

Story and Photos by Carolyn Balk  


Going to Myanmar, also known as Burma, was strange: only since 2011 has the country opened up to more tourism. Signs sprinkle highways and towns proclaiming “WARMLY WELCOME AND TAKE CARE OF TOURISTS,” the government’s way of letting you know you are safe, despite the (very true) criticism you might hear otherwise from famous politician activist Aung San Suu Kyi, known locally as “The Lady,” and the like. Things are constantly changing: exchange rates, which hotels foreigners can stay at, whether or not locals can afford cell phones, a road’s reliability, how the people define themselves using “Myanma” versus “Burmese” (technically, Burmese refers to a specific ethnic group, but the British used this term to refer to all Myanma people) among others. The people are incredibly friendly and open to learning about other cultures and people from all over the world (on a more comedic note, one woman even told me that before tourism’s recent influx, many Myanma/ Burmese people believed that all white people were British). Go—you won’t regret it.


 

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