The moment we stepped foot in Myanmar (Burma) we knew it would be special. The airport was calm, immigration officers smiled & laughed as we were ushered into a world of the past.
Myanmar is on the cusp of an avalanche of tourism but having spent the last 4 weeks with these beautiful people I know they won’t follow the same path as Thailand or Bali … over commercialised tourism industry, lost cultural values, significant substance abuse & an over fixation on what the USD can get you.
We have never met such an open hearted, welcoming & joy filled race of people. Smiles galore & singing while you work! When was the last time you heard someone singing with gusto as they worked? I’m not talking tone deaf notes from ear plugged people with iPhones … I’m talking genuine contentment & joy from any task, be it washing, cooking, cleaning, selling, sewing … they sang away!
The Burmese have an amazing ability to take DELIGHT in whatever they do. I put this down to Buddhism. In Myanmar it’s not just blind faith or a practice, it’s a way of life … a way of being. Their prayer & meditation are not to an external God but rather to the Buddha or God spirit that lies within. So instead of asking an external force to guide them, support them or even change their lives they take that upon themselves & look for the answers inside.
They are living breathing examples of how your inner state of being totally determines how you see the world & react with others. With open hearts they respect & trust you as foreigners despite the atrocities they have endured under military rule & one of the longest running civil wars. Incidentally a Nationwide ceasefire was only just signed after we left in April.
Another amazing aspect of the Burmese people is their passion for reading. All along the streets you would see people, squatting, standing, lying … READING regardless of age. During our free walking tour of Yangon our guide told us the Burmese have a literacy rate of 94% & yet they have the lowest government spend on education (only 1.7% of GDP vs 20% in Thailand or 11% in Bangladesh). So what does that tell you? They are all personally motivated to have knowledge & knowing … amazing & so refreshing to see!