Myanmar (Burma)

Connoisseur's Guide


Architectural Tourism Handbook by Andis Sīlis

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Connoisseur's Guide · Asia · myanmar (burma) · Myanmar (Burma) · Architectural Tourism Handbook by Andis Sīlis


Author: Andis Sīlis0 COMMENTS


For those who wish to travel and enjoy architecture without presence of other pale faces, I would suggest to get to Myanmar (Burma), the former capital of Mon state Mawlamyaing.

Foto: MawlamyaingFoto: Mawlamyaing

Typically for small towns of Easter Asia, you will not find any intrusive contemporary architecture experiments there, trying to squeeze people into glass or concrete boxes. For it you will have abundant opportunities to enjoy exotic mutation of local poverty and British colonial architecture. Contrary to Muslim traditions, three mosques and five Theravada Buddhist monasteries, up on the sacred mountain, are open for visitations.

Foto: MawlamyaingFoto: Mawlamyaing

Hardly anyplace else in the world can take pride in such complexes of wooden architecture, lavishly adorned with elaborate carved ornaments, and in gilded stupas, rooted deeply into the local national traditions. Mon nationality, however, is almost entirely assimilated and its architectural heritage will perhaps exist for about a score of years, or so. Scenic views over the city, river, and endless jungle open up from sightseeing spots of the central temple.

Foto: MawlamyaingFoto: Mawlamyaing

Wander along the streets and marvel at exquisite façades and an amazing cocktail of architectural styles, representing Western Europe, India and the local ones. You may even try to imagine peculiar mode of life of the bygone times, and very beautiful picture albums with old photos available in Rangoon or visiting of a local history museum of the region may provide some inspiration for this purpose. Do not try to take pictures of a bridge - local junta soldiers qualify it as espionage, and be prepared to get out of a bus here and there, to allow indolent militarists to see your passport (they do not know which way to hold it, as they know only their own, rounded letters). There is no need to worry or be scared, however - people are friendly, and lately quite popular "Buddhists' disturbances" seem to be organized by someone outside the country.

Foto: MawlamyaingFoto: Mawlamyaing

Do not expect much comfort of any kind in Burma. Think carefully if you really wish to visit Kyaiktiyo Pagoda - the rock and surrounding scenery is impressive, yet, the only way to reach the summit, is by a lorry, crammed with pilgrims. I remember a German woman for whom long waiting in a sultry cab of a lorry and an uncertainty, so difficult to understand for a western person, was just too much, and she reacted to it with a fit of hysterics. Although few meters away there was a "café" - just chill out, sip a drink and admire surrounding scenery. Just be sure to ask a driver to call you when he is ready to go.

I have to admit that Rangoon architecture did not impress me so much, yet a popular Bagan temples is a must-see destination for those who haven't seen Angkor Vat temple in Cambodia.

Foto: MawlamyaingFoto: Mawlamyaing

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