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Guide Stories: Aung from Bagan, Myanmar

Aung from the ancient city of Bagan tells us his story of introducing visitors to his home country’s heritage and people.

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Bagan guide Aung’s story of showing visitors the diversity of culture in Myanmar and how his home country is changing.

“I’m from the central part of the country, on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River, about 700 km north of Yangon and 290 km south of Mandalay. The unique world of Bagan is regarded as one of the richest archaeological sites across all of Asia’s nations.”

“Bagan is often regarded as the richest archaeological site across all of Asia’s nations.”

“At present, Bagan is the biggest tourist attraction in Myanmar for its rich history. The ancient city was the capital of the Bagan Dynasty from the 2nd century to the 13th century, and it is the mother place of Buddhism in the country. As the most ancient city in Myanmar, it covers thousands of years of history. Many ancient religious monuments were built for Buddha and some ancient Hindu temples remain, all of which are very well preserved, even after the 1975 earthquake.”

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“Since Bagan is my native town and Myanmar is my motherland, I have seen tourism grow here in recent years. The country is going towards democracy but this is changing more slowly.”

“My original plan was to become a school teacher but I changed my mind after the 1988 demonstrations.  I wanted to be a part of the march towards democracy, so I became a tour guide.”

“I’m able to teach visitors to Myanmar about our history, culture and the life of the people, and  I am able to tell them about the real situation here today. In Bagan, the focus is on the historical temples and the different styles of architecture, which represent centuries of different beliefs.”

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“Outside the archaeological zone, I take visitors to villages so they can understand the local way of life as well. Bagan is regarded as the heart of the Myanmar people, and since it was connected with the silk road, travellers have been visiting for thousands of years. Myanmar is so different to anywhere else for the visitors who come here, making it a truly foreign land. As a guide, I introduce people to our way of life, wishing to preserve it for future generations.”

“Bagan is regarded as the heart of the Myanmar people, and since it was connected with the silk road, travellers have been visiting for thousands of years.”

“I am happy to be a guide here because it gives me a great opportunity to communicate with and educate people about this part of the world. I can explain my country’s history, religion, culture, beliefs and customs, and help support its growth for all of our citizens.”

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“What’s most rewarding for me is explaining to visitors how ethnically diverse we are here. People are always surprised to hear that we have 135 ethnic groups, who all practice different customs and often speak different languages.”

“Although there has been some conflict between ethnic groups, this diversity is the thing that will make us stronger as we move towards democracy. Walking through the villages is a great way to get close to the local people, as they are very welcoming and just as curious about you.”

“There are countless festivals during the year. My favourite in Bagan is Ananda Pagoda Festival which takes around January, depending on the lunar calendar.  The festival is popular with local people, as it’s very festive and one of the Bagan’s largest celebrations.”

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Aung guides travellers who are on luxury Myanmar tours with Jacada Travel.