10/29/13 - 10/29/13
Please scroll below a few pics of the authors for our observations on Myanmar travel.
If you read our blog entries from Meanderings in Myanmar, you may gather that we love the Burmese people. We think that meeting people in Myanmar is the principle reason to come here. That being said, travelers tend to have an effect on local folks and that will change people, especially in more tourist areas such as Hsipaw, Inle Lake, and Mrauk U. Following a familiar pattern of tourism development, most Burmese in tourist areas don’t benefit from the influx, they fulfill low paid service jobs and work longer hours away from their families during the busy season without reaping much reward. We are concerned Myanmar will follow a similar pattern of tourism development to its neighbors, Thailand and Cambodia. Soon the frequented tourist sites in Myanmar may have the same hustle and bustle, cynicism, and offer similar challenges if you are trying to have authentic encounters with locals. Another concern would be the development of sex tourism and the exploitation of young women here by unethical foreigners who have plenty of the money and resources that most people here do not.
One Danish woman we met who has been travelling to Myanmar for 15 years described Burmese perfectly as “heart people.” If you want to find such people, come quickly. If you have flexibility in your vacation schedule, consider offseason or shoulder season travel when destinations are not inundated and local people have more time to chat and get to know you. We visited Bagan in March when everyone said that it would be too hot, and enjoyed nice mornings and hot afternoons poolside. The temples were empty and we had them all to ourselves! We visited Myanmar again this month in October and only encountered rain a few times, and enjoyed the unhurried atmosphere as things were just starting to ramp up for high season. Above all please be kind to the Burmese that you meet in your travels. People in Myanmar love to encounter foreigners but don’t always understand your questions or remarks in English. You make a lot more friends and a much better impression with a smile and a slower rephrasing than with impatience or anger. Burmese are incredibly gracious and want to help, just give them a chance! Also please don’t let money get in the way of making a new friend or giving someone a little extra to eat. We saw a few encounters where travellers would get heated over a dollar or 2 difference of opinion, without regard to the fact that Burmese are literally struggling to survive, being one of the poorest countries in the world.
Posted by mjschrum
Archived in Myanmar
Tagged village lake bagan monastery buddhist asia southeast myanmar tourism poverty burmese travelers inle hsipaw rakhine
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