New Windows and Ways to See Myanmar
Having experienced the magnificent temple ruins of the former Thai Kingdom of Sukhothai, we head for Mae Sot and the border of Myanmar. Mae Sot hums with activity related to cross border trade being the favored location for many Burmese traders doing business between these two Southeast Asian nations.
Arriving at the Friendship Bridge, a sudden burst of curiosity makes us quicken our pace to the immigration booth as we cross the bridge to the Myanmar side. After completing our customs formalities, we are welcomed to Myawaddy, a town bustling with people busy organizing truckloads of imported goods from Thailand.
We continue heading west through open countryside towards Hpa An on a newly minted highway. Previously, this trip required traveling on a narrow, windy road, which carried only one-way traffic on alternate days. Lucky for us, better transportation infrastructure is opening new connections between Thailand and the interior of Myanmar.
On approach to Hpa An, we are welcomed by lush green scenery adorned by steep mountains and a wide ribbon of water. The river is the Thanlwin which originates on the Tibetan plateau before flowing south through Myanmar to the Andaman Sea only a few hours boat ride away from Hpa An.
These beautiful natural surroundings make Hpa An a destination for soft adventure activities, such as kayaking and trekking. Numerous ethnic minorities populate the area. They are happy to share their proud cultural heritage and engage our group to learn about their customs, food and traditions.
Further west from Hpa An is Yangon, the Myanmar destination where most tourists arrive via international flights. However, places like Hpa An, Mawlamyine, the Golden Rock and Bago are all interesting attractions to validate an overland tour through the countryside.
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