Burma, the final frontier
Rudyard Kipling famously “thought it quite unlike any land you know about”, which is presently true of the majority of intrepid travellers looking for that final frontier. It is true to say not many have yet been but with the recent lifting of some of the 25 year old junta rules and regulations it has become much easier to enter Burma and the last great prize surely now beckons all that love the mystery and wonderment for the modern traveller. So all last minute checks are now ticked off and latest bulletins absorbed and with all formal finalities now completed, you are now ready to embark on your journey into the unknown. And this is exactly what it is. You now face a trip, truly into the unknown so plan accordingly, which means plan as little as possible. Let your destination become exactly that, your new destined destiny.
One should remember then, that as a plucky and unperturbed explorer of the modern ilk we should enter with a full sense of humility and humbly embark on our adventure with these thoughts in mind. This is the very last chance to make a good impression when visiting a country for the first time. That said it should be equally obvious, but not too difficult to do, to know how and want to respect and understand all that you see and do once your cultural awakening has lift off.
The modern name of Myanmar, of more correctly phrased as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is the current guise of the most eagerly awaited border opening process of all time. Whilst there have been more grandiose locations to be lifted and perhaps more poignant places of historical concealment elapsed, it is fair to say that in our world of global communication and commercialism it is comforting to know that such a magical and mysterious place and people have managed to, in some way, keep their secrets , quite rightly, to themselves.
The lure of the last bastion of unspoilt, un-western ideology is an appealing one so you should be, quite rightly, in the right frame of mind to enter with respect, observe with keen and genuine interest and leave with everlasting memories that should shape your future to some small degree, at least. To say the country is unspoilt is to belittle the difficult past that is only now, unyielding its tyrannical grip and allowing a fortunate generation to lay claim to be the first, en masse, travellers and visitors to benefit from this unique situation. So come in respect, come in droves but come in peace.
If you are the type of traveller from the mod con age and need a little bit of home within your horizon then think again or perhaps think elsewhere for your cultural fix. If you are the type of person that embraces the sight of a land without the need for a McDonalds or Pizza Hut (at the point this article was written) then you are in the right place, and you fully deserve your time in Burma, from the first Thanaka smile (your first tantalising sight for your imagination) to your last enduring glimpse over your shoulder. Perhaps you will come away with a slightly impending feeling to help or educate other Burmaphiles in some way.
There may still be a long way to go for this elusive nation to try and free itself from its unfortunate past, but as many ancient civilizations have done before, a stoic and self-reliance on the ingenuity of its identity and magical motivation of its people will surely stand the test of time, just as its countless temples and enchantments have effortlessly adorned the majestic surroundings. Burma is here at last, are you?