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Burma Calling: getting off the beaten track

Burma Calling: getting off the beaten track

You know that feeling when you look at a view and you suddenly feel really tiny? When you go somewhere new and see people living their lives in a way totally different to yours, and you reassess everything? When you remember that if you pop your bubble for a bit, you suddenly see everything in technicolour.

That's why we travel. And in our book, the further from our normal lives the better.

We like to get way, way off the beaten track.

Here's Burma's path-less-trodden, and how to do it:

 

One | Have breakfast in Northern Shan State

Breakfast in Northern Shan State

Right up in the Shan hills, there's a village called Tatarnatuka, home to the Palaung people. The day starts at 4am when the cockerel says so. And if the cockerel doesn't wake you, the smoke soon will. Go there by motorbike, up through the mountains, past farmland so fertile you could grow a dodo in it. Learn to weave. Pick tea. Drink rice wine. Kick a ball around in the dust with the children. The simple life, at its best. 

 

Two | Smoke a cheroot with the Chin Tribes

Smoke a cheroot with the Chin tribes

The tattooed women of southern Chin state know a thing or two about beauty. Ancient beauty. Beauty administered with a rattan thorn and powdered gall bladder. You'll find them around Mount Victoria in southern Chin state, and all over northern Rakhine state. Mindat is a great place to start. You'll need a couple of days in a bumpy bus to get there. Plenty of time to shake off any remaining humdrum.

 

Three | Go far, far north to Naga Land

Go far, far north to Naga Land

One of the most underdeveloped, under-explored places on earth. Animal skulls adorn the houses as good hunting omens, but human skulls are the preserve of the village elders, proud relics of wars gone by. Your head is safe these days, but your mind may not be if you accept their invitation to try their home-grown hallucinogens. Get Max to take you. He took this photograph, and he really knows his way around up there. 

 

Four | Mooch around the mangroves of the Mergui Archipelago

Mooch around the mangroves of the Mergui Archipelago

Pick an island. There are over 800 to choose from. You'll be the only one there, apart from the fish and whales, the coral, the little lizards and the odd croc. If you can, stay on a boat and spend as long as you can at sea. There's no signal at all. Not even one bar if you perch on top of a mountain. Paradise. 

 

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