I am so glad we ventured to Myanmar while it is still relatively undiscovered – except by the French! We didn’t encounter any other Americans, but French, Germans and Chinese.
We had different guides for each area we visited and all of them were extremely well versed in just about every aspect of life there. They could talk about the history of the region or country, the individual pagodas and temples we visited, and answer just about any question, regardless of subject, that we threw at them.
As in other SE Asian countries, the people are gentle and gracious. We were told that most crime is mostly of a domestic nature. Most people get around on motor bikes or bicycles, but there are more cars than I would have imagined – laws in the past few years have made buying cars more accessible. Most are right-hand drive, as they can buy used Japanese cars quite inexpensively.
They display great pride in their heritage and their historic temples and buildings. We were told they are the second most “giving” country in the world, despite the fact that so many have so little. They do not harass you or put pressure on you to buy, and I didn’t see one beggar.
The food was a little disappointing – not spicy at all! Except for those delicious tamarind candies from Bagan!
Bagan is an absolutely amazing place to visit and I’m glad we visited it last. The landscape with the thousands of stupas and temples is surreal.
The people appear to have an enormous respect for Aung San Suu Kyi, and call her “Our Lady”. There will be elections in 2015, and I get the sense that they would love her to win, but are dubious about the possibility. There were several mentions of “cronies” in regard to people who have achieved success or wealth, and I didn’t get a sense there was much respect for the government.