Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Despite having lived in S.E. Asia for over 15 years, I've only recently visited Myanmar. I was very fortunate to be accompanied by May Khine, and Zaw Min Twe on my first trip, without whom I would never have found my way to the many places we visited in such limited time. I know just enough about Myanmar to know that a large number of people have suffered tremendously under 50 years of military rule - one of the harshest military dictatorships in Asia. And yet what I find difficult to reconcile with historical fact, is the genuine hospitality and friendly nature of the people I've met on the two occasions I've visited. Mainstream media regularly report on the reforms taking place in Myanmar. The NLD now form the government (albeit under a military constitution), and the country is open to visitors as well as encouraging foreign investment. There are signs of progress, however, Yangon appears to be trading economic progress for out-of-control traffic and dramatic increases in the cost of living (property prices in particular). The friendly nature of the people in Yangon may have outlasted the junta, but I fear their biggest challenges may yet be ahead of them.