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“Their names roll off the tongue savourly, crowding the imagination with sunshine, strange sounds and a multi-coloured activity” wrote Somerset Maughham, the 1930s playwright and novelist, travelling in the region. His journey covered Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Singapore, Penang, Bangkok, Saigon, Rangoon, Hanoi, Hong Kong and Shanghai—a Grand Tour—along the shipping routes to colonies and foreign entrepots alike.
All these cities are still top Asian destinations these days, including Yangon, the renamed Rangoon, former capital of Burma, now Myanmar. After many decades, the country retreated into a self-imposed isolation and considerable internal unrest—the subject of international media coverage and even the Hollywood film industry. Only in recent years has it opened up to outside visitors with rapidly growing interest from investors and travellers alike. From the very moment I set foot on the ground in Myanmar I knew I was in for a truly unique experience.