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Golden days in the center of Myanmar

Golden, because it is the color of the sun, of the pagodas and the Buddhas. In Myanmar, also known as Burma, those golden marvels number in the many hundreds and some splendid pagodas are also open to visitors.

Mythical and picturesque

The most memorable memory one can gather is without doubt a visit to the Shwedagon pagoda, on the Singuttara Hill in Yangon, at sunset, when monks, pilgrims and tourists take part in the Illumination ceremony of traditional lamps. The entire site literally illuminates the whole colonial part of the city.

This ceremony aims to recreate a legend, suggesting that one of the four Buddhas of this pagoda, the Gautama Buddha, gave 8 strands of his hair to merchants who used those to illuminate the forest, to grow flowers on trees and to rain precious stones.

Intoxicating mix

What a lot more there is to see and do in Myanmar, where grace can be found everywhere: in villages built on the land and on stilts, in animated and colorful markets and on floating gardens.

One can only be pleased and impressed by the contact with ethnic groups living in the mountains, as well as seized by the contrast offered by the traces left by British colonization and nicely surprised by the evident influences of Bangladesh, India, China and Thailand.

Moving images

After Yangon, Mandalay is known for its jade production. We visit the Sapaing region, among all, for its 90-ton Mingun Bell, which is still functioning. Also in Mingun, another surprise awaits the first-time visitor: what looks like a huge square rock capped with green is in fact a temple whose construction was abandoned following a prediction by an astrologer saying that the king would die as soon as the stupa is completed. Many other ruins constitute points of interest.

Also, to be immortalized by your camera at sunset preferably, the famous U Bein pedestrian bridge, entirely make of teak, is in Amarapura.

Monywa is an important commerce hub for the region’s agricultural products. A few musts: tasting the Alon sausages, buying a longyis (sarong) for man or woman, that can be worn as a belt, turban or skirt.

The walls of Pakkoku and Bagan with its stupas skyline, where we are invited to share the meal with a family of three generations, complete this trip on an authentic note.

One last photo

The album wouldn’t be complete without the spectacular fishermen standing and rowing with their feet and throwing their conical fishing nets. Graceful…

Next departure

Trafalgar, a guided-vacation specialist for almost 70 years, will offer this 11-day tour through 2016. A first departure is planned as early as January 27 and a second on March 2. These are two goals for those who treasure spontaneous travels as well as those who like to take a little more time to become imbued with the history and culture of a destination before flying.

Research and French original: Sylvie Berthiaume

Translation: Christiane Théberge





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