In the mean time, while the jury is reading and reviewing all the 1000+ applications they received, I post here the wanderlust text I wrote for the SWISS Explorer contest (Download a formatted pdf version). As soon as my video will be activated on the SWISS Explorer website, I’ll let you know, since I’m sure you will like it. As you will notice this text is inspired by my previous post in French about Myanmar and was shorten to fit the contest’s rule.
Myanmar! What a marvelous place! Thousands of Buddhas are living there surrounded by an uncountable amount of golden stūpas! In this region of the world, modernity and local cultures mix together in a deep respect of Buddhist traditions. Thus many monks surf the web on their smartphones using the free wireless connexion provided in the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, surely the most impressive one of the country with its hundreds of golden roofs. Since the lifting of western embargo, automatic transfer machines have flourished all around, even in worship places of the biggest cities. Nowadays, Myanmar counts more than 700’000 monks, about twice the number of annual foreigner visitors, so the traveler get rapidly used to see buses filled with purple and red tunics instead of Japaneses cameras. Of all the country’s odds surprising the traveler, the most obvious are the bloody red Burmese smiles caused by the continuous chewing of Betel – a strong psychoactive made of areca nuts and betel leafs. In Myanmar, most of the people still wear the traditional longy — a cylindrical piece of cloth attached at the waist in different ways for men and women. But, even the young girls, who adopted jeans and t-shirts, still cover roughly, like tribal art, their cheeks with thanakha – the local wood based solar cream.
The most special place of this unexpected country is definitely Bagan. Bagan, this city, many times capital of the Burmese kingdoms, inspires visitors since hundreds of years. Marco Polo should have said about that it as a “gilded city alive with tinkling bells and the swishing sounds of monks’ robes”. Impossible to render in words even a tiny glimpse of the Bagan’s magnificence: thousands of stūpas and even more Buddhas keep the visitor under charm for days. At the sunrise, dozens of stūpas and temples coming straight from fairy tales are emerging at the horizon like the puppets of a shadow play. Slowly, the Sun’s rays sweep delicately the morning mist in which are floating mysteriously the stūpas. To conclude this magical show of the nature in a fireworks, many balloons fly graciously over this marvelous landscape. The visitor who have had the chance to see this spectacular play of the Sun will never forget it.
Myanmar, this mysterious country, still ignored by tourists, is like a bubble outside of modern times where the Buddhist beliefs are felt as well in the honesty of its population as in its landscapes decorated magnificently from East to West and North to South by Buddhas images and golden stūpas. I could only suggest you to add on our list of things to do: “Discover Myanmar”.