A Look Inside The Beautiful Police State Of Myanmar

Myanmar

Photo: Calvin Sun – Monsoon Diaries

Calvin Sun makes it his business to visit places off the beaten track, and he’s working on a plan to hit as many as possible.He overcame a unique set of challenges for his visit to Myanmar in August.

Formerly Burma, Myanmar is a cash only destination, with little infrastructure, and a mandatory visa requirement. If you’re a journalist, or work for a humanitarian organisation, don’t bother applying — the Myanmar government will not let you in.

It’s cheap though once you arrive: $13.50 a night for a nice hotel with maid service and a pool. Meals were as little as 50 cents.

Calvin says, “There are no McDonald’s and no Starbucks. It’s one of the most honest versions of a Southeast Asian country out there.”

After flying into the capital visitors can take a boat into the interior

These boats travel Inle Lake outside of Nyaung Shwe

While travelling the lake Calvin stumbled upon these Padaung women wearing brass neck rings

A ring is added every year after the age of five

The local economy is one of the least developed in the world - here a restaurant employee is walking home from work

The floating village of Inle Lake - houses built right on the lake-bed

Each of these 729 buildings is a page in the tripipaka canon - the world's biggest book

A chapati stand - THE place to eat at 2 a.m after a night of drinking - 50-cents for a platter

Bagan - 2,000 to 3,000 temples spread over 16 square miles

Anything goes in Bagan - there is no security or maintenance and visitors can claim a temple all for themselves

There were up to 5,000 temples here before a 1975 earthquake

The temples are a mix of Hindu and Buddhist shrines

The area is accessible by bicycle from the hotel

For someone who has traveled as much of the world as he has - that's saying something

It's the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar

Buddha enclosure within Shewedagon pagoda

Locals believe the Shewedagon Pagoda is over 2,500 years old

The British used the pagoda as a fort when they seized Burma in 1824

Downtown Yangon - Myanmar's largest city with 4 million inhabitants

Wat Pho Temple and the Reclining Buddha of Yangdong

Aung Suu Kyi won the 1990 national election. In response, the opposition party locked her in this house on a street off-limits to tourists - the cab driver pointed it out by scratching his nose.

Aung Suu Kyi's father, General Aung San, is considered the father of modern Burma (Myanmar)

The Golden Rock and Kyaiktiyo Pagoda seem to defy gravity

Legend has it the huge rock balances on a strand of Buddha's hair

For about $20 four guys will carry tourists to the Golden Boulder

Poor village children walking home from school on the way to the Golden Rock

While the government censors everything, they have no problem with profanity

Myanmar is just one of the places Calvin has gotten into

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