Last month I had the pleasure of visiting the golden country of Myanmar and meeting some of the kindest people in the world. Everywhere I went people wanted to meet me, talk to me, take my picture. In fact, I got so much positive attention that I felt a little bit like a celebrity!
My two weeks in Myanmar were so incredible. As it was my first ever completely solo trip I was a little nervous about it. Would people be nice to me? Would I be able to communicate even though I speak little Burmese? Would I get scammed? It turns out that my fears were unfounded. The people I met in Myanmar was the warmest and most genuine people I have ever met. They constantly went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and to help me out. I had a sense that I was really being taken care of during my stay. Every guesthouse owner was an adopted parent, every curious person on the street a new friend. Thanks to the kindness and equal curiosity of the Burmese people I had a very special time in Myanmar.
I met so many wonderful people while in Myanmar I wanted to share their warm smiles and stories here.
Get to Know the People of Myanmar
These three kids were following me around at Hsinbyume Paya in Mingun. I would turn a corner and they would sneak behind me like mischievous shadows. When they thought I wasn't looking they would take pictures of me, even posing themselves near my frame. Eventually I walked over to them and said hello. They were pretty happy to get some close up shots of me!
During a boat tour of Inle Lake, we stopped at the daily rotating market. I met some very friendly people here, including the cheerful spice vendor who offered me free samples of peanuts and tamarind. Walking back to the boat we passed families and individual village members carrying goods purchased at the market and men taking goods to the market.
During my Inle Lake boat ride I saw lots of men working on the lake. Wearing a fisherman's variation of the traditional longyi skirt, these men row their boats with a ballet-esque one-legged stroke. Watching boat after boat being so gracefully steered through the placid lake was mesmerizing!
In Yangon, I took the Circle Train, which stopped at a local morning market. As I sat looking out the window, people looked back at me, smiling and motioning for me to take their pictures. One women held up her baby and posed his little arm to wave hello! The bustling market scene perfectly showcased the traditional longyi skirts, which are worn by both men and women, and the creamy thanaka make up, which is also worn by men and women.
I met this curious little girl in Mandalay while stranded in a pagoda on a rainy day. I had discovered a lonely, shivering puppy without its mother when this sweet Jasmine seller found me. She was equally interested in me and the puppy. Together we helped the terrified puppy calm down and find its mother. One of my favorite travel moments of all time!
During my Burmese days, I spent an afternoon in the historical town of Inwa, which is near Mandalay. Because cars are non-existent here I hired a horse and carriage to take me around to the sites. I had the pleasure of meeting both my kind driver and her husband as well as taking in the sites from my little carriage. I especially loved seeing the man with all the greenery on the back of his bike and the little boy who timidly followed me around an old temple ruin.
In Yangon I was lucky enough to visit the famous Buddhist pilgrimage site Shwedagon paya not once, but twice! I visited the temple in the afternoon and admired the flood of longyi-clad Burmese making the clockwise walk around the central stupa. At night the scene changed into a family hang-out! I saw fathers helping their children ring bells for luck, families sitting together in gold light and friends placing jasmine on shrines. It was altogether magical and joyful.
Near Mandalay is the town of Amarapura which is home to the world's longest teak bridge. The famous U Bein bridge straddles the Ayeyarwady river and is crossed by hundreds of tourists as the sun sets. I traversed the wooden bridge and met dozens of kind and interesting people including this team of football players who had just won their championship game, fishermen and talkative monks. The good company and dazzling sunset made the experience unforgettable.
If you get the chance to visit Myanmar-GO! You'll meet wonderful people and have the privilege of traveling in a land that is unknown to most travelers.
Have you ever been to Myanmar?
Read more about my travels in MYANMAR.
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