Page 28 - CSANews 88

Basic HTML Version

28
Travel
Story and photos by Barb & Ron Kroll
Cruising Through Myanmar
Images of smiling men, women and children, serene
monks and nuns and golden Buddhist temples flood
our minds when we recall our cruise through Myanmar
(previously called Burma).
It’s an exciting time to be in this Southeast Asian coun-
try of 60 million people. Bordered by India, Bangladesh,
the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea on the west
and China, Laos and Thailand on the east, Myanmar
is opening to democracy after 50 years of repressive
dictatorships. In late 2010, Nobel Peace Prize-winning
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released
from 15 years of house arrest and President Thein Sein
promised to continue releasing political prisoners and
improving civil rights.
The floodgates opened after Western countries
suspended decades-old economic sanctions. Hillary
Clinton, President Obama and other political leaders
visitedMyanmar in 2012. Businesses, hotel chains, banks
and tour operators started to invest in the nation. U.S.
dollars became widely accepted. A new international
airport, planned for 2017, will handle the expected in-
crease in visitors. The optimism of the newly liberated
population is palpable.
The lack of development resulting from half a cen-
tury of isolation and military oppression has preserved
Myanmar’s traditional architecture, art, music, dances,
handicrafts, clothing and scenery. But its culture is
changing quickly with the influx of tourists, Western
fashions and construction. We wanted to visit the
country before skyscrapers replaced temples, shopping
centres replaced markets, fast-food chains replaced tiny
Pavilion at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.
Golden Temples and Smiling Faces