(Click to enlarge)
It is a pity that it is only possible to visit a small part of
Southern Myanmar. A pity because it has so many interesting destinations and many dream
islands with beaches. Other favorite tourist destinations in Thailand
and Malaysia are becoming more and more overcrowded, especially in
the December-January peak season.
Because few foreign tourists are visiting Southern Myanmar, the
advantage is of course that it has kept a lot of its old charm. So
many popular tourist destinations elsewhere are ‘damaged’ by the
tourist boom and have lost all of their natural charm and relaxed
atmosphere. But if you like shopping, crowds, bars, loud music,
parties or the sex
industry then Southern Myanmar is of course not the place to go. I
Regrettably also that I could stay only thirty days on my visa, else I
would have loved to explore Southern Myanmar further.
From Yagon it has been a comfortable
train journey to
landscape and the people on the stations were fascinating. There is
such a natural and relaxed atmosphere everywhere. Strolling to the
streets of Mawlamyine, visiting some of the beautiful pagodas,
watching the people, seeing the lively markets, has been a beautiful
Another important advantage is that there is almost no motorized
traffic. This is for me the greatest disadvantage of Thailand, where
I have been many times. It looks that a Thai don't want to walk or
ride a bicycle. They travel only in cars or on motorbikes. There are
(almost?) no streets for only pedestrians in Thailand, as is so
relaxing in other countries.
Around Mawlamyine, also on the road to
Hpa-An, are magnificent
Karst (limestone) mountains with many
caves and Buddha statues. I love this kind of landscape and have
visited several limestone rock formations all over Asia. It is
really a magical landscape. It feels timeless and connected to
something much greater then our small self. People through all ages
has felt this and expressed it with many
Buddha statues, which you can see everywhere. They were also
building the greatest reclining Buddha statue in the world.
I love to see that in 2011 Buddhism is so alive in Myanmar. The Burmese people have a great resilience
and devotion and it looks Buddhism has only grown after the brutal
suppression and killing of the monks in 2007. Now in 2011 it looks
that slowly some form of democracy is coming to Myanmar. In their
hearts the Burmese people will always be free and that give them
their kindness, strength and resilience.
Hpa-An is halfway between Mawlamyine and Kyaiktiyo
the famous Golden Rock.