The inter-country airlines are nicknamed, as Anthony Bourdain points out, “the flying coffins” given a safety record that is less than encouraging.The alternative to flying to get from Yangon to Bagan is an eleven-hour train trip.The richest man in the country is said to be U Tay Za who, among other holdings, owns the luxurious Aureum Palace Hotel in Bagan.He is so not a nice guy that our Treasury Department has named him a dangerous arms dealer and they froze his assets and prevented him from visiting our country.
Here, children from the age of twelve and up, spend their days studying.
The second big industry has involved the destruction of the northern forests where most of the world’s remaining teak resides. So the generals have taken their loot and invested in the next big crop – tourism.
As Hammer points out, every single airline in the country is owned by associates of the former military dictator.
But in 2011it was ranked 180th out of 183 countries in Transparency International’s 2011 corruption index. They sail past the ancient capital, Bagan, with over, count them, 2,000 temples.
You do this cruise in season, because when the Monsoons come calling, as they always do, the entire lower half of the country turns into a kind of floodplain that stretches from the base of the Himalaya’s all the way to the Andaman Sea.