March to May is hot and dry in Myanmar (formerly Burma), a beautiful Buddhist country in South East Asia, with temperatures ranging between 22 and 38 ° C (72 – 100 °F). Making outdoor exploration sometimes difficult in middle of the day. The Bagan Temples in Mandalay are perfect early morning for idyllic sunrises, or charming sunsets late afternoon, when the heat is lower. It is much cooler around Inle Lake in the Shan Hills, as is the capital Yangon due its coastal location. Despite the heat it is worth bringing warm clothes for travel into the highlands and hill stations where it can become chilly in the evenings. In April, most of the country takes part in the New Year Water Festival when water is flung just about everywhere to celebrate the onset of the rainy season and drive out bad luck for the year ahead.
Visitors gain a rare insight into the mysterious Shan culture at the Bawgyo Pagoda Festival in the Thibaw Township. Observing ancient traditions, the culture is unique to the rest of the country. The famous pagoda is the pinnacle of the festival. Visitors enjoy traditional dances, performances, music and cuisine in the town’s park.
Location: Thibaw (Shan State), Myanmar
Local tribespeople flock to Kakku for this two-day festival in Taunggyi in the Shan State. Slender, elegant pagodas decorate the festival grounds in the traditional geometric look typical of the region. Unique the world over, Kakku is enjoyed locally and is gaining international popularity as Myanmar enters the global community.
Location: Taunggyi, Myanmar
Ko Gyi Kyaw Spirit Festival
Singing, dancing and overall merriment are in store for those attending the Ko Gyi Kyaw Spirit Festival in Pakhan. Lasting eight days, the annual festival celebrates the happy spirit Ko Gyi Kyaw in his hometown in the Mandalay region. Worshippers, visitors and locals alike join in the festivities and traditional displays.
Location: Pakhan (Mandalay), Myanmar
Pindaya Shwe Oo Min Festival
The Shwe Oo Min Pagoda in the mountains overlooking Pindaya is home to the Pindaya Cave, which houses thousands of golden Buddha statues and images. During the festival, people come from the surrounding areas and set up camp around the cave for five days before the full moon, cooking, selling local crafts and celebrating together.
Location: Pindaya, Myanmar
Shwe Sar Yan Pagoda Festival
For just over a week, people from all over Myanmar come to the Shwe Sar Yan and neighbouring Po Kalar Gu pagodas to visit the relics of Buddha, see the painted murals and buy the traditional toys and crafts woven from palm leaves. Many also cross the Dot-hta-waddy River on small boats to visit nearby Pagodas.
Location: Mandalay, Myanmar
Seeking enlightenment and escaping hell, the Novitiation Ceremony celebrates young men becoming novices in Buddhism. A religious celebration, this fascinating cultural tradition involves a parade where the new novices walk about dressed as princes. Invaluable among Buddhist families, this is a rite of passage for young Burmese men.
Location: Countrywide, Myanmar
George Orwellâs Indian Days and Burmese Nights
Author : James Newman
George Orwell's extraordinary talent for understanding the human race was born from the streets and back alleys of British India and Myanmar; these Eastern lands informed one of the greatest literary minds of the Western world.