Musing on Myanmar

by Anna Blanch on March 3, 2012

I cannot explain my excitement when presented with the opportunity of working Myanmar (Burma) into the Overland to Oz itinerary. However, and this is a big however, it might mean I have to take a flight. The region is unstable and entrance to foreigners is extremely limited. If I tried to enter by road I would likely be only able to stay one day and would be very limited in the areas I would be permitted to see.

So how big a deal is the idea of flying?

Well, I’ve said that I will fly if it is a matter of safety or if there is something that really makes it untenable not to go by train, or ferry (or by motor vehicle if thee  former two aren’t options). I would see this as a detour as it would force me to go out of my way. I’m thinking if i take a return flight from either bangkok or ha noi, then it is within the spirit of the trip. In one sense the Burma leg is a bonus. It’s a notoriously difficult country to get into and it is not an opportunity I want to give up without really giving it a good shake on the planning front.

There are various flight routes that you can take to Myanmar:
Bangkok – yangon
Singapore – Yangon
Kuala Lumpur – Yangon
Hanoi – Yangon
Ho Chi Minh city – Yangon
Siem Reap – Yangon
Chiang Mai – Yangon
Guang Zhou – Yangon
Kun Ming – Yangon

I’m not sure which way I’m going to go with it yet, for now it is enough to contemplate it as a possibility and add another visa to my list. I think making sure that I can get all my visas in time is going to be quite the juggling act.

Some background on Burma

Area: 676,578 sq km (apparently this makes it slighter smaller than Texas).

Population:54 million

GDP per Capita: $1,923.63 per capita

Capital: Yangon (Rangoon); pop: 4,082,000

System of Government: Military Council

Language: Burmese

Literacy Rate: 83.1 (1995 UNESCO Estimate)

Ethnic Groups: Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Indian 2%, Mon 2%, other 5%

Religion: Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Muslim 4%, animist 1%, other 2%

Currency: C$ 1.00 = Kyats

Climate: tropical monsoon; cloudy, rainy, hot, humid summers (southwest monsoon, June to September); less cloudy, scant rainfall, mild temperatures, lower humidity during winter (northeast monsoon, December to April).

Alternative names: Burma, Union of Burma, Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw (translated by the US Government as Union of Myanma and by the Burmese as Union of Myanmar), Myanma Naingngandaw, burma (myanmar), myanmar (burma), myanmar.

Let me say that as with many things to do with international travel, it is often hard to find up to date information – in terms of determining medical support needs, and travel risks, the CIA factbook (linked below) is definitely a go-to resource in the planning process – even if it tells me things I really do not want to know….but better that I know now. As with all things it is a measure of balancing information without being paralyzed by it.

Do you know where it is?

So what do you think?

Does doing this side trip to Burma go against the spirit of the overland to oz trip?

Sources: Map (screenshot of google map), Nation Master, CIA World factbook.

Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.

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Traveller. Scholar. Photographer. Writer. Dreamer. Teacher. Anna Blanch is founder of Goannatree, and a PhD candidate in the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, Scotland. Overland to Oz is a crazy adventure marked with photos and word and inspired by the incredible women in Anna’s family, especially her late grandmother, whom she knew as Nan-Nan.


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  • Amanda Michelle Jones

    i’m sorry… what, exactly, is the dilemma here? GO, WOMAN!

    • Goannatree

       i’m seriously thinking about it! looks like I might have located some people on the ground to offer some advice too!

      • Amanda Michelle Jones

        YES, YES, GO! lol (but really, do it!)

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