Myanmar is a nation on the cusp of great change, and there’s never been a better time to go than right now.
Golden stupas also known as pagodas glitter in the sun wherever you go in Myanmar. In the shadow of these towers, peasants labor in rough conditions. One local drily remarked to me that the country is rich, but the people are poor. For many, life seems to have gone on largely unchanged for the past 2,500 years: peasants, oxcarts, the same kinds of food and clothes. The same glittering pagodas, covered in gold in the richer towns, and merely painted in the poor ones.
You might want to wait until the country becomes a full-fledged democracy. You might want to wait until the Muslim problem settles down, and until the armed conflict with minority ethnic groups is resolved. You might want to wait until it becomes what it is now becoming.
You might, however, be well advised to go right now. Go before the place internationalises and loses the look of old Asia that has been preserved by its harshly imposed self-isolation. Go before they fix the English on the menus and signs. Go before the place gets wealthy and ugly, because if one can generalize from the little pockets of prosperity there, economic miracles are not going to make for an attractive sight – Go before everyone else goes.
The beauty of Myanmar is in considerable part a consequence of its long-term inaccessibility.
– text: Andrew Solomon / Discover more of Frédéric’s work here.