Myanmar draws tourists amid calm from unrest

Featured South East Asia - November 27th, 2012
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Tourists are trickling in to dangerous west Myanmar as tensions from recent violent unrest seem to have calmed down, despite the still-visible scars left by the bloodiest conflict since the country pushed for reforms.

AP reports on a group of tourists, mostly from Canada, who came to the region to see the monuments of the region’s rich history – the temples and pagodas in the remote town of Mrauk-U at the heart of Rakhine state. It is the very land that has seen bloodshed between Buddhist Rakhines and Muslim Rohingyas.

“We heard the news before coming,” Caroline Barbeau, a social worker from Montreal said. “But we’ve had no problems. The people are very nice, very kind.”

While Mrauk-U has been spared from the unrest, the remnants of the violence in surrounding towns pose a stark contrast to the tourists looking with awe at the hilltops dotted with relics.

Just last month, thousands of Buddhists raged through Yan Thei, just south of Mrauk-U, carrying spears, arrows and homemade guns, AFP reports.

Still, tourists were drawn to the scenic country.

“This is still a virgin country without many tourists,” another Canadian tourist told AP reporters. “It’s magnificent”.