Tuesday, 29th November 2016
Burma's last remaining synagogue
When most people think about religion in Burma it is Buddhism that first comes to mind. And while that is the most common faith in the country, there are a number of other spiritual paths that people choose to follow. Among these is Judaism and although there is just one synagogue left anywhere in Burma, it’s a fascinating place.
The Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue can be found in downtown Yangon on a street lined with shops that don’t give any clue to their neighbour’s existence. There has been a synagogue on the site since 1854, but it was just built from wood and was replaced by a more permanent structure.
This current stone building was constructed between 1893 and 1896 and a small plaque at its entrance attests to this fact. Burma does not have a large population of Jewish people, but those who are still living in the country are mainly descents from Sephardic Jews who emigrated from Iraq generations ago.
In Burma’s colonial period, the country was a popular destination for Jews from parts of the Middle East and India. The British colonial government granted a plot of land for the synagogue to be built and permission was extended by the authorities when Burma gained its independence.
By the time the Second World War broke out, Burma was home to around 2,500 Jews, but the Japanese occupation, followed by many businesses being nationalised under independence in 1962 saw many leave. There are around 700 graves in a Jewish ceme
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Tuesday, 8th November 2016
Top highlights of Inle Lake
Inle Lake is one of Burma's most mesmerising destinations. Awash with natural beauty, this is a place that pairs picturesque scenery with a wealth of cultural interest. So, it is little wonder it proves so popular among visitors.
Located in the Shan State, the lake is approximately 13 miles long and seven miles wide. It is home to an exciting mix of floating gardens, stilt villages, markets and more, while the surrounding area has scenic hills perfect for walking, as well as famous attractions such as the Pindaya caves.
Here, we take a look at the top things to see and experience at Inle Lake.
Without doubt, natural beauty is one of the most attractive things about Inle Lake. Surrounded by hills, this vast, tranquil lake is a beautiful spot to relax and take in Burma's wonderful natural heritage. And the scenery is often enhanced by manmade attractions, including pretty floating gardens and impressive stilt houses.
The Intha people
Getting to know the Intha people is another highlight of any visit to Inle Lake. Living in stilt villages, the Intha are best-known for their unique one-legged rowing style, which they use to propel the boats that help them navigate the lake. Indeed, boats are the primary mode of transport here, and they act as everything from a way to get around to floating markets and a base for fishing.
During your time here, it's well wor
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Friday, 4th November 2016
The pros and cons of travelling to Burma in the green season
There is no doubt that travelling to Burma is a great idea, but it can be difficult to decide when to plan your trip for. Conventional wisdom would suggest you avoid the period known as the green season but is this really the case? It depends on what you want to get out of your visit.
Avoid the crowds
In the off-season there are far fewer people travelling to Burma (hence why the period is given this name). This can be a blessing when it comes to visiting beautiful sights and feeling like you are catching an authentic look at the country.
With fewer tourists vying for accommodation and transport, as well as tour guides and even flights, green season travel can save you a bucket-load. Since Burma has only recently opened up to the world, hotel rooms can be at a premium in high season, due to the limited number available.
Meet more locals
Seeing tourists during the period from May to October becomes more of a rarity and makes locals more inclined to stop and chat. This is a great opportunity to get to know the friendly Burmese people and should not be underestimated.
Enjoy the scenery
Travelling throughout Burma at the height of the wet season is quite a different experience to looking out over the parched vistas of the rest of the year. Stunning golden stupas are exquisitely contrasted against the lush green landscape and vegetation stretche
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Wednesday, 26th October 2016
The Strand Yangon to reopen next month
One of Southeast Asia’s most iconic hotels, The Strand Yangon, is due to reopen in November after a period to renovation. Ever since it was founded in 1901, the establishment has been the grand dame of Burma’s hotel scene but was in much need of a makeover for the 21st century.
Olivier Trinquand, vice president of the Strand, said: “The Strand Yangon was one of the first luxury colonial outposts to open in Southeast Asia, founded in 1901 by the famous hoteliers, the Sarkies brothers, and it remains one of the most architecturally beautiful landmarks in the region.
“This latest project has preserved the heritage at the heart of the hotel and honours the Strand's part in Myanmar's history, whilst creating a more relaxed, refined and glamorous setting for 21st-century travellers and explorers.”
It has taken six months to return The Strand to its former glory, during which time the hotel has been closed to guests. A team of local artisans has been employed to restore its original details, including teak panelling, antique bedsteads, traditional lacquerware and marble flooring.
As well as staying true to the traditional décor of the building, the hotel’s 31 bedrooms and suites have been fitted with modern amenities. These include air conditioning systems and in-room technology, ensuring a stay conforms to the standards expected in a luxury hotel in the 21st century.
While the hotel was closed
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