The basics Population: 54 million Capital: Naypyidaw

While you’re there, please don’t… • step over any part of a person. • sit with your back towards Buddha’s image. • point a finger straight in a person’s face. • take a photo of someone without asking permission first. Before you go, read … From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey by Pascal Khoo Thwe – an autobiographical account of the author’s upbringing in a remote tribal village in Myanmar and his journey from his strife-torn country to Cambridge. The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma by Thant Myint U – regarded as the best recent account of the country. Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin – a journey through Myanmar based on the life, work and travels of Orwell. Before you go, watch … Beyond Rangoon – John Boorman’s 1995 drama film about an American tourist (Patricia Arquette) who gets caught up in Myanmar’s 8888 Uprising. Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land – a 2007 documentary about protests by Myanmar’s population of monks. They said it “Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay: Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay? On the road to Mandalay” – Rudyard Kipling, in his poem Mandalay “What you’ve got they can’t deny it. Can’t sell it, can’t buy it. Walk on, walk on. Stay safe tonight.” – Bono in “Walk On”, a song dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi

Religion: Approximately 89% of the population is Buddhist. Hinduism is practiced mainly by Burmese Indians. Emergency numbers: 192 (ambulance), 199 (police), 192 (fire) The key dates 13-16 April – Thingyan. Celebrating the Myanmar New Year, this festival lasts for several days and features lots of good-natured water throwing. 5 October – Full Moon of Thadingyut, the end of Buddhist Lent, features three days of festivities, with houses and streets illuminated and decorated. Dates vary from year to year. The hot spots Popular destinations include Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake, Kyaitko and Moulmein. There is one World Heritage Site, the Pyu Ancient Cities, but as many as 14 are on the “tentative” list for possible inclusion. Some itinerary ideas • “The Big Four”: Yangon – Mandalay – Bagan – Inle Lake • South: Yangon – Kyaikto – Moulmein How to stay healthy • Myanmar has quite a few nasty snakes, including cobras, kraits and the Russell’s Viper, one of Asia’s deadliest snakes. Wear the right footwear and keep an eye out for critters at all times. • Dengue and malaria are a problem in Myanmar, so be sure to take adequate precautions against both of them.

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