As thoroughly steeped in political controversy as it is in a rich and varied past, Myanmar provided a truly unique travel experience. The country has been a virtual hermit state since the 1960s and as the rest of Southeast Asia has experienced the most dramatic economic growth in world history, Myanmar, once the region’s richest country, has joined the ranks of the world’s destitute. The country’s military regime has bucked the trend towards greater political and social liberalization, reneging on democratic elections and crushing the pro-democracy movement.
Despite these political issues, Myanmar offered a rich panoply of golden stupas, landmark temples, ancient monuments, picturesque lakes and unspoiled mountain scenery. There were so many memorable experiences including the myriad pagodas of Bagan studding a vast plain by the Irrawaddy River, crimson-robed novices chanting by the golden Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, and everywhere the gentle, generous and long-suffering people.