This week, we discuss the protection of the heritage of Burma. Then, we feature the city of Inwa and its development thanks to the current tourism boom. We mention a new luxury river cruise and end by discussing how to avoid looking like a tourist.
Protecting the Heritage of Burma
Taking into account the increasing impact of mass tourism in Burma, our first article addresses the sensitive issue of heritage preservation. These issues are in essence paradoxical: while the protection of remarkable features of heritage sites and landscapes may be extremely valuable to tourism development; a poor planning management, coupled with increased tourist flows, may further exacerbate deterioration of the sites.
The latter is what Sayardaw U Pyin Nyar Depa, the abbot who looks after Akauktaung, Payar Ta Htang (or “Custom Mountain”) is denouncing today. Indeed, “the hundreds of ancient Buddha images that remain, carved into the rock, are at risk of being lost due to a lack of help maintaining them.”
Consequently, the abbot calls upon the Burmese authorities to ensure meaningful help to maintain the site, especially since more and more visitors are coming to see these carvings. It seems essential to protect this heritage and preserve the memory of the local population in the area.
Formerly named Ava, the city of Inwa was the royal capital until 1841. After a severe earthquake that completely destroyed the city, it was abandoned for Amarapura and never rebuilt.
Today, with the overwhelming growth of tourism in Burma, this small town located only 21 km from Mandalay is experiencing a significant upsurge in popularity. Local people, from postcards sellers and the tourist guides to horse cart drivers, hope that their business will continue to thrive: “We can’t say we earn a lot, but we are hoping to earn more this year because we heard there will be more tourists coming to our country.”
The picture, however, is not all rosy. The state of the roads in the area is deplorable. Most roads in the area suffered extensive degradation and there is an urgent need to begin to repair and maintain them in order not to hamper tourist and economic growth. “Some parts of the road in Inwa are in terrible condition, so sometimes the horses trip and give minor injuries to travelers […]. Some of our guides suggest that the roads are so bumpy that it is not suitable for the elderly to visit Inwa with the horse carts.”
Luxury River Cruise
Following the example of Mr. and Mrs. Florens, “the Mexican newlyweds, [who] cruised between the cities of Bagan and Mandalay on a ship that takes its names – The Road to Mandalay – from a famous Kipling poem”, our next two articles will certainly attract those who want to treat themselves to a rare pleasure: to visit Burma on a luxury river cruise. Our second article describes the “1,600-kilometer (994-mile) journey deep into Burma’s interior, almost to the border of India, operated by the Orient Express”.
Both stories portray with great details the unique comfort of the journey, the refinements and delicacies of the cabin, the memorable moments and meetings, as well as the difficulties experienced during such a cruise.
However, these longings for an escape come at quite an exorbitant cost: “Prices on the Road to Mandalay, which can accommodate 82 passengers, begin at $2,520 per person for three-night cruises and $4,030 for 11 nights, while the Orcaella starts at $5,040 for seven nights and $5,610 for 11 nights.”
As it is rightly said, while “river cruises have the advantage of sidestepping two of Myanmar’s major tourism shortcomings: poor roads and a lack of upscale accommodation […]; it is questionable whether it is an authentic way to see Myanmar and interact with local communities.”
Six Ways to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist
Finally, let’s end with a pretty amusing but relevant article: “6 ways to avoid looking like a tourist abroad”.
This short guide will help you get the most of your trip and “avoid tourist hate” and mocking glances of the locals in a smart and safe way: 1. Stay out of the way. 2. Do your research. 3. Put the map away. 4. Learn the language. 5. Respect local customs. 6. Don’t be a stereotype. We wish you a good read!
Have a good week everyone!