Beginning the 2nd week of September 2014 and continuing through February 2015, the fabulous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon will be undergoing renovations. Although the pagoda will remain open for sightseeing, as of the middle of October it will be fully covered by scaffolding.
The gilded pagoda and stupa are 99 metres (325 ft) in height and is situated on a hill, just west of Kandawgyi Lake and dominate the skyline of Yangon. It is a ‘not to be missed’ site for visitors to Myanmar, and is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese with relics of four past Buddhas enshrined within: the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight strands of hair from Gautama.
With the recent opening of four border crossings, travelling overland from Thailand to Myanmar has never been easier as it is now possible to travel by road all the way from Bangkok to Yangon, using roads rarely used by tourists that will provide you with glimpses of life that seem to be suspended in time.
You will cross from Thailand at the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border and enter into Myanmar’s Kayin State, homeland of the Karen people. In both countries you will pass through spectacular scenery that changes as you travel, revealing mountain passes, rural villages, bustling market towns, shimmering temples and vast green rice paddies.
Highlights along the way include Bangkok and the former capitals of Ayuthaya and Sukhothai in Thailand, and the town of Mawlamyine in Myanmar, where British colonial buildings face stunning views of the Thanlwin River, not far from the world’s largest reclining Buddha. The golden rock of Kyaikhtiyo, perched precariously on the edge of a cliff, and the town of Hpa-An that is surrounded by stunning karst mountain scenery where farmers still travel to market with horse-carts are highlights along the route in rural Myanmar. You then reach the historic city of Bago where you can meet monks in a monastery to learn about their daily lives, before then continuing on to reach the capital of Yangon.
For more details please contact Footprints at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can listen through these links to some of the important events that have just taken place in Burma during the historic visit of President Barack Obama:
Naomi Duguid’s new book, “Burma: Rivers of Flavor,” has more in common with anthropology than with usual notions of food and travel writing.
For an interesting review of this book, please see the recent article in the NY Times at the following link…
Please click below to read the complete article….
The Burmese Spring
The government of Myanmar said on Monday that it would no longer censor private publications, a move that journalists described as a major step toward media freedom in a country where military governments have tried for decades to control the flow of information.
For more details see the following link to the New York Times…
Canada’s decision to open a new embassy in Myanmar comes amid significant democratic reforms — and an international rush for the Southeast Asian nation’s natural resources.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced the new diplomatic mission in July, after the White House eased U.S. sanctions to allow American firms to invest there and work with its state-run oil and gas company. U.S. businesses were reportedly worried they may miss out as other competitors, including China, India, Thailand, Malaysia and France, have already secured deals. Foreign companies have also sought to cash in on Myanmar’s massive mineral and gem resources, which are valued at billions of dollars.
Announcing the new embassy from Thailand, Baird focused his comments on the progress that has been made by the ruling military junta to improve Myanmar’s human rights and democratic record.
“There’s been an incredible amount of reform in the country over the past 18 months,” Baird said. “We’re impressed by that reform.”
Coming after decades of oppressive rule by the junta, those reforms have included opening up Myanmar’s economy, releasing hundreds of political prisoners, legalizing protests and the holding of historic byelections.
Canada has never had an embassy in Myanmar, and the decision to create one is the latest step in Canada’s re-engagement with the country.
Sanctions imposed against the country in the aftermath of a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 2007 were suspended in April.
Baird did not mention the economic opportunities that exist in Myanmar, but an official in his office confirmed that in addition to helping promote human rights and democracy, the new Canadian embassy “will work to support Canadian commercial interests and investment in Burma.”
Please take a few minutes to watch this video interview with Aung San Suu Kyi (with Charlie Rose and Desmond Tutu) if you’re interested in an update on what’s happening in Burma …..(click on the link below, and then click on her photo on the web page to start the interview which was recorded this past September…)…since then promising news continues to come out of Burma ….providing us with reason to be “cautiously optimistic”…
Charlie Rose – Aung San Suu Kyi & Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu
Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon
Today’s news from the Canadian Friends of Burma tells us that approximately 200 political prisoners including famous comedian Zargana and labour activist Suu Suu Nway – the two Burmese activists honoured in Canada with human rights awards – have been released under an amnesty announced for a total of 6,359 prisoners in Burma. However, the majority of political prisoners including prominent political figures Min Ko Naing and Khun Htun Oo still remain in jail.
Indeed, the Canadian Friends of Burma is pleased to hear news on the release of some political prisoners but expected more. “The reported number of political prisoners – a mere 10% – receiving the amnesty while the vast majority still languishing in prison is still unacceptable”, said Tin Maung Htoo, Executive Director of Canadian Friends of Burma.
More than 2,000 political prisoners are being imprisoned in more than 42 prisons and 107 labour camps across the country. In early this year May, notably right after the current government came into power, the first amnesty took place with the release of a total of 14,578 prisoners; however, a few dozens of political prisoners were included in that number.
“It is important for President Thein Sein to demonstrate that his government is capable of moving forward by taking bold steps. Otherwise, it would be a setback for the accelerated political reform that he himself initiated recently,” added Tin Maung Htoo..
For more details please see: www.cfob.org