1999 Lost Worlds of Asia

The quest for a thunder dragon and golden pagodas

(Walking over two paths to enlightenment)

Inspired by my previous visits to Tibet , Nepal and the movie “Little Buddha” my thoughts became focused on a small kingdom in the Himalayas. Approximately the same size as Switzerland and not more than 600.000 inhabitants this country has preserved their pristine tradition in a fantastic way over the years. By the way of a self imposed isolation the pragmatic Bhutanese succeeded to maintain their charming, peaceful and religious life style. Bhutan is the most remote and inaccessible of all the Himalayan countries. To the early Buddhists it was the lotus garden of the gods; to western explorer, the Shangri-la of fable. The doors to the country was only opened in 1974 and since then a very limited number of tourists have been allowed to visit Druk Yul, the land of the thunder dragon. So I’ wasn’t surprised by the reactions of my friends when I told them my next trip would bring me to Bhutan. “Ehh… Bhutan, where is that?” The only way to visit Bhutan is on an organized tour. I booked it with Yu Druk Tours & Travel , a local tour operator. Thanks to their efforts and splendid organization the trip became a fantastic success.

The decision to go to Myanmar, more commonly known as Birma, was quite a controversial one, the military regime rules the country with an iron hand and neglects the results of elections held in 1990. The whole Burmese population is suffering badly from “the Burmese road to socialism” which has steadily lead the country downhill both socially and economic. Universities have been shut and people are afraid to say what they think in fear of severe punishment by the dictatorial regime. Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition party and winner of the Nobel Peace prize in 1991, has been released from a six year long house arrest is still being harassed and abused from the authorities. Once again the hostage affair of the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok during my stay in Myanmar showed how desperate the people are. However I am convinced that neglecting the country is not the right way to break the isolation. By haven chosen non-government hotels to stay in, avoiding MTT controlled transport as much as possible and buying handicrafts directly from artisans the Burmese people got that little bit of support they need so badly. Burmese people, who are amongst the friendliest, most sincere and unspoiled people I’ve ever met during my visits to Asia and elsewhere in the world. Here’s the story of my 2 1/2 week stay in a fascinating but oh so sad country.

Start the Journey in Bhutan

Or go directly to Myanmar