Myanmar Meander (Part I: Yangon and Bagan)

This is Burma

and it is unlike any land

you may know about…

Rudyard Kipling


Catch a fiery sunset at the golden Shwedagon Pagoda

A place uniquely preserved in culture with people still true to their native traditions, Myanmar (aka Burma) stays mostly untouched by modernity–except for cellphones and the quickly thickening deluge of tourists.  Go see this country sooner than later, while golden arches are still made of wood and gold leaf at sacred pagodas with no McDonald’s in sight! I loved traveling to this country where markets abound with fresh produce and natural herbal remedies, shoppers who carry their own reusable baskets, where people know only to cook and eat real food–a reminder of our almost forgotten connection to nature’s divine wisdom and benevolence.


Helpful and kind despite economic hardships, locals still proudly wear their traditional longhis (i.e., long skirt wraps for men and women) in cotton or silk, as well as their native thanaka skin cream which also doubles as makeup and sunscreen.

As smitten with technology as we are


Their legendary political heroine Aung San Suu Kyi


Primarily Buddhist, alms giving is a daily ritual in this country.


Monks at work


Monks at play


Someone’s not too thrilled by this makeup business… His mother’s market basket doubles as baby swing.


When traveling to exotic locales, I prefer to head out of the big cities to get the real pulse of the country.  Bagan is an hour’s flight Northwest of Yangon. Morning flights make a clockwise circle of Yangon-Bagan-Mandalay-Inle Lake.  It’s always best to take the first flights out in case of delays.

To imagine small town Bagan, picture the entire stretch of Manhattan with nothing but stupas of all sizes. Early bird or not, rise for a ride with Balloons Over Bagan. At the bottom of this photo is the outer edge of one of the prettiest hotels in Bagan, the Aureum Palace.


Grandma in tribal headdress, fierce as the dragon it is supposed to conjure


Horse and buggy ride


Sunset over Bagan


Welcome to Myanmar!


This series is inspired by the revival of “The King and I” on Broadway. While waiting for Part II of this travel guide, click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what you’re curious to learn about other cultures.


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 Sharon Birke

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mountain
    May 30, 2015 @ 09:39:50

    What a grand life, Sharon! I mean that in a most endearing way. You travel the world, sometimes on a whim. You raise a family, work here at PG and I think you love it because of the enjoyment of the personality’s and experiences you encounter and create along the way. What fun and excitement! Documenting all in photos and sharing some with us. Favorite this week–can’t decide! Looking forward to part deux of my choices along with undoubtedly more indecision. I really do enjoy seeing the world and a bit of life through your eyes.

    What an apropos question this week! Just last week I started early planning on when, where to stay and best way to see what I want to on Cebu and Boracay. I know a Goddess who lives in Panabo City and I asked her to meet me in Boracay. A couple of weeks to lounge in the sun, eat and relax with a beautiful Goddess. We met here in LA a few years ago and she often asks me to visit. So I called and surprised her with my plan. The Filipino culture is one I’m somewhat familiar but there is so much more to learn and see for myself. The people are so nice the women especially are different than any I’ve ever known. My heart has been captured. I had promised myself this trip some years ago and more recently promised a hand made guitar from Alegre Guitar from Cebu as a souvenir I can take home with me. But I know the best thing I will take will be the experience of visiting a beautiful land and people. I can hardly wait. So I’ll wave aloha to Hawaii as I pass and “keep on going” this time. 😉

    A balloon ride, Sharon! how cool is that??

    PS…”The King and I” was always a favorite of mine!



    • Powerful Goddess Portraits by Sharon Birke
      Jun 02, 2015 @ 13:56:26

      Good for you, Mountain! The main beach of Boracay has turned into a circus–Friday’s may be your best bet there for its relatively quiet location at the far end of the main beach. Since you’re on a “honeymoon,” check out the Shangri-la. And there’s nothing more romantic than a guitar serenade under the moonlight. Enjoy!


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