Good news!

Dear friends of the Golden Land! Since October 8, 2022, a new regulation regarding entry into Myanmar has come into force. The previously mandatory PCR test before entry (which was not be older than three days) has been abolished! However, a test is still carried out upon entry. Travellers who test positive can ‘look forward’ to quarantine, covered by their Burmese health insurance … Furthermore, a return flight ticket and a first hotel booking must be shown, which should not be a problem.

In my opinion, this compulsory insurance is the biggest obstacle for travel to Myanmar. Let’s hope that it will be abolished soon. The presentation of international travel health insurance should be sufficient. A few friends of mine are currently travelling around the country on tourist visas, which are issued without any problems. They are enjoying the tranquillity at the major tourist destinations and some told me that it feels just like travelling in the old days. So, get your tourist visa a.s.a.p., and we will help you with the rest.

See you soon in Burma, Axel and Ei Ei

Entering Myanmar

Arriving in Mandalay

I arrived back in MDL yesterday after a 5-week-trip to Germany. No problems when I left Berlin on the 4. of July and entered Thailand the next day. But yesterday MAI (Myanmar Airways Int’l) asked for proof of vaccinations and an insurance certificate during check-in for Mandalay at Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok. My insurance certificate was on my smartphone and not accepted that way. I had to have it printed out at the airport police station (10 baht). Nice helpful people. When entering Mandalay, insurance and vaccination certificates were checked immediately after arrival. After immigration straight to the testing station. Nurses in hazmat suits. A stick was rammed into my nose. Ouch! An unpleasant waiting time followed: Am I maybe positive and do I have to go into quarantine? But I wasn’t worried. After all, I was ‘insured’ – with a Burmese insurance company. Only $50 to $75 for 14 days… Names were called out over loudspeakers. I wasn’t able to identify mine until the third call… Atmosphere like in an Orwellian movie… I was glad when I got my passport and was given permission to leave …

Regarding visa: the Myanmar embassy in Berlin informed me that they don’t issue tourist visa at the time being.  But tourist visa may be obtained online. Proof? Yesterday I met two Hungarian tourists who’ve got their tourist visa that way.  


Entry into Thailand and Burma

Dear All!

Here`s some good news! Starting from 1. July Thailand has eased the regulations for tourists who want to enter the country. Starting from 1. July the Thai Pass is obsolete, a certificate of  vaccination will do. Myanmar, too, has eased the regulations: It is no more necessary to bring a negative test result not older than 3 days. However, you still have to buy an insurance on arrival. Hopefully, this will be scrapped soon! 

See you in Burma

Axel Bruns and his team



The recent situation in Burma/Myanmar

Dear readers, here is another article on the situation in Myanmar/Burma. It is concerned with the extent to which the policies of the National Unity Government (NUG) 
have been successful. Or not. FRONTIER MYANMAR is a Yangon-based newspaper critical of the military regime. A while back, her US editor-in-chief, Danny Fenster,
made headlines after being arrested in May 2021 while attempting to leave the country. In November 2021, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his work for
the now banned newspaper Myanmar Now! was convicted. Four days later he was deported to his home country.
More HERE:

Another opinion …

Hi friends, here are two interesting articles on the civil war in Myanmar that shed another light on the conflict: file:///C:/Users/User/Desktop/Economist%20PDF.pdf AND Frankly, I always had a problem to believe the ‘democratic’ media when they wrote that in a clash between the army and rebels more than 40 soldiers died, while one rebel was wounded … 

More good news!

Hi friends,

and here’s even more good news from Myanmar: several airlines will resume their services to Myanmar next month! And it’s not propaganda: I’m going to BKK next week with Thai Smile! I sincerely hope that the prices will be back to normal soon. At the moment, they’re a bit steep … 


Good news from Burma/Myanmar!!

Dear friends.

in the last three years we have only heard bad news from beautiful Burma: Covid epidemic, military coup, thousands of victims … Sad story! But now the tide is turning! The government has decided  to issue tourist visas starting from 15. May!! At the time being there are only a few (and expensive!) flights to Myanmar but I’m sure that’s going to change in the near future. Pls. check the ministry’s website:!

Now you might ask yourself: Is it safe to visit Myanmar? I’d say: YES! At least the most important tourist destinations like Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle  are safe from my point of view. However, Kayah State, parts of Shan State, Chin State Kachin State and Sagaing region should not be considered for a visit. And don’t forget to come to beautiful Pyin Oo Lwin, my adopted home town since three years. I will invite you for a tea at my home and give you an unforgettable tour of this fascinating town! Please let us know, if we can help you with your trip to Myanmar.

So, see you in Myanmar!

Axel Bruns & his team   

My new website

Hello from Burma,

A few months ago my new website went online. There you can find plenty of information about Myanmar/Burma. It goes way beyond what you can find in guidebooks etc. Owing to the fact that I’ve been living here for 25 years and my marriage to a local lady I’ve gained an insight into the life of the Burmese that only a few foreigners have. Though most of the articles are in German I’m steadily working on translating them into English! Enjoy reading!

Axel Bruns

Myanmar – Change in a Society of Shortages

The all-purpose engine – a banger near Pindaya

Until this very day Myanmar is a poor country. But need is the mother of invention! Ever since I came here for the first time more than forty years ago, I have admired her people’s talent for improvisation. Take those rattling engines (Made in China), which delight our hearts and ears – not only at Inle Lake. They are not boat engines, but general-purpose ones. Of course there are boats with modern engines on the lake. Indevi company e. g. offers boats on which guests can even chat! However, they are four times as expensive as the usual bangers. Not everyone can or wants to spend that much. But the use of these stinking air polluters is by no means limited to boats. They offer almost unlimited options: they drive rice mills and pumps as well as those ubiquitous transport vehicles cobbled together by local workshops (see picture) that can be seen in the countryside. The variations are almost as unlimited as the amount of hazardous substances they’re emitting …

Mazda-600 taxis in Yangon
1940’s buses on the road

But there have always been ‘real’ cars in the country, too. In addition to rickety road cruisers there were a few English Morris Minors and Japanese Mazda – Made in Burma! With no less than 360 or even 600 cc displacement. But without a rotary engine, of course. The huge majority of them sported a sky blue varnish (hence the name blue cap!) and resembled the East German Trabant pickup (Trabbi). The Burmese called them lay bein (four wheels), because there were three wheelers, too. The latter resembled the 1950’s Borgward Goliath, made in Germany. The lack of two-wheelers was striking. As we heard later, they were banned in Yangon! The buses were sensational: Bedfords and Chevrolets from the 1940s! Converted military trucks from Canada with wooden bodies! The destinations could not be read, as everything was written in pretzel script. And people were sitting in those bangers as if it was the most common thing to do in this world. Until then, I would have considered those buses more of a fairground attraction.

A gate made of marston mats in front of a shop in Pyin Oo Lwin
PVC-pipe shop – a designer’s dream come true
Children in a stainless steel workshop in Pyin Oo Lwin

I have divided the development of the last forty years in Myanmar into three phases:

1. The Marston mat phase
2. The PVC pipe phase and
3. The stainless steel phase

For me, these materials have become icons of their style epoch.

A fence made of marston mats in Anawrahta Str., Yangon

A Marston mat is a device for recovering stuck vehicles and for building runways at field airports or short stretches of road, especially on bridges. These are thick perforated plates made of sheet metal, about 2 m long and 60 cm wide and 3 to 5 mm thick. They can be interlocked with each other on the long side. Placed on a flat surface made of sand, earth or the like, a large area can be made available for use by aircraft and heavy equipment within a short time. So far so good. But that does not explain their omnipresence in this country. They were to be seen on every corner and used for all sorts of purposes.

Mostly for fences. But garden benches, doors and other utensils were also made from it. Outside of Burma they are relatively rare and so I always wondered where on earth they all come from. At first, I thought they might be leftovers from the war, but that seemed increasingly unlikely given their huge numbers and good condition. Moreover, it is an item that is rarely seen in the hands of private individuals. I tend to associate them with the military. To this day I haven’t been able to find out where all these things are coming from.

Screens made of PVC-pipe and cellophane in a restaurant
Arbour made of PVC-pipe in a Hindu temple (detail)
Flower bowls made of PVC-pipe in the temple

Marston mats were ousted from their top spot with the rise of the No. 2 style icon: the light blue PVC pipes. Those, I believe, are imported from China. I happen to know them from my career in the plumbing industry, where we used them mostly for drain pipes. But they were always grey in order to make them as invisible as possible. But maybe the Chinese are proud of them and want to show them off? They are mainly used for water pipes (both inflow and outflow). Which is not a problem in this country because the water pressure in Myanmar is low and most of the pipes work according to the principle of connecting tubes. In developed countries these contraptions would simply fall apart at the glue joints due to the water pressure. For the operation of washing machines etc. you’d have to install a pump in this country.

In addition, they can be used in a variety of ways. In the wake of the Corona crisis you will find them often as part of a protective shield. You go to a restaurant for a romantic dinner with your wife, with whom you live day and night. There the ‘screen’ made of PVC pipe and cellophane foil is placed in the middle of the table. However, you can sit next to each other, then you don’t need a partition!

Moreover, PVC pipes offer undreamt-of possibilities: as a table frame, as a clothes line, as a picture frame – to name just three. The imagination knows no limits. I’ve even seen them used as pillars for building huts. Probably cheaper than bamboo! And more durable. For me the most beautiful use was found in a Hindu temple in Pyin Oo Lwin. The entire garden decoration was made from this material. Incredible and beautiful at the same time (photo). Old car tires were also used there as flower stands.

Modern age meets the past: a stainless steel workshop proudly shows its products in front of a fence made of marston mats
Stainless steel from China is the latest hit! This stuff is unbeatably cheap: a 6 m long pipe with a a one inch diameter costs five dollars. Presumably the Chinese have exhausted their quotas in their overseas export markets and are now dumping the stuff on the Burmese market. Since labor costs are also low, you can make the most amazing things out of it. It also glitters a lot nicer than the PVC pipes mentioned above – and they’re more stable too. Railings and beds are often built from them, as well as tarpaulin frames for pickups, but also prayer chairs (see photo). Basically there is hardly anything that cannot be built with it … I had a pool heating system built out of it: 40 meters of ½ inch pipe with 20 windings cost me 70 dollars. And I probably paid way too much … Now everyone might ask: Why don’t they use wood? Doesn’t teak wood originate in Myanmar? The answer is simple: wood is much more expensive than stainless steel!
The latest rage – a prayer chair made of stainless steel
Sink unit at Pyin Oo Lwin station combines stainless steel, PVC-pipe and perforated L-steel sheets
A signal giver made of rails at Pyin Oo Lwin station

Burmese Railways (Myanmar Meeyahta) is also very creative in this regard. In front of Pyin Oo Lwin’s (Maymyo) station stands a complete large stage (picture) built from railway tracks and Marston mats. On the platform, a short section of rail serves as a signal giver. When the train comes, someone hits it with an iron rod – you can’t miss it! The charging station for cell phones is made of the proven stainless steel pipe, as is the wash basin set up to fight the corona epidemic.

A festival stage made of rails and marston mats in front of Pyin Oo Lwin station

A surprising discovery in Maymyo

A surprising discovery in Maymyo

Since I moved to Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin) a year ago, I have been fascinated by the religious diversity in this town: Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians of all shades have built their houses of prayer here. Not to forget the animists. After all, Pyin Ool Lwin ist the home of the famous Nat Ko Myo Shin. The Lord of the nine cities. I cannot imagine that there is such diversity anywhere else in Myanmar.

But even here there are always new surprises. During one of my excursions in the vicinity I came across the Gumba Temple. Designated as a Buddhist temple on Google Maps. I was expecting a Chinese temple or a Burmese monastery. And what did I find? A Tibetan temple! A Mahayana Buddhist place of worship, in which the Tibetan version of Mahayana is cultivated. Tibetans in Myanmar? Well, this country certainly has a colorful mix of people, so nothing surprises you so easily. But it is not Tibetans who run this temple. It is run by Tamang people. They come from Nepal, where they now make up around 6% of the population (around 1.5 million). They are one of the largest groups of highland peoples in the country.

Little is known about their history, but they are certainly among the earliest peoples who have migrated from the Tibetan plateau into what is now called Nepal. That happened probably more than three thousand years ago. The Tamang have their own cultural traditions and language (Tibetan-Burmese language family) as well as an alphabet that is derived from the Tibetan alphabet. 90% of the Tamang people are attached to Tibetan Buddhism. Their calendar is based on the Chinese one with its twelve-year cycle. Like other hill tribes in the country, they are reduced to a subordinate role in Nepal. Most of them are farmers in the mountains others working in the trekking business. If a porter identifies himself as Sherpa, he might actually be a Tamang. Others joined the British army and came to Burma as soldiers. That means, not every Gurkha belongs to the people of the same name and is a Hindu. He might be a member of another of the numerous tribes of Nepal! Such as the Tamang! In Myanmar, there are about 350 Tamang households, almost half them in Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin). Oddly enough, the Tamang sometimes call their temple ‘Gurkha temple’ themselves, adding to confusion. Even though the Gurkhas are definitely Hindus, not Buddhists …

The temple/ monastery is located in the north of Pyin Oo Lwin. It is the largest of its kind in the country. There are other, smaller ones, e.g. in Myitkyina and Yangon. The one in Pyin Oo Lwin was founded by a Tamang guru named Sri Nathung who came to British Burma in 1933. The monastery was built two years later and today it has grown into an impressive complex. The original wooden building still exists but is no more in use. It was replaced by a brick building. The formerly humble temple now looks quite impressive. Ven. Yang Lama, the monastery’s abbot, told me that he is planning to surround the temple with 108 prayer wheels. There are currently five monks and one novice living in the monastery. The faithful travel from all over the country to the great festivals. To the right of the temple are a number of chortens (Tibetan stupas) with prayer flags.

The temple's courtyard
Shrine of Sri Nathung w. planetary posts
Tamang horoscope
Main shrine entrance
Main Shrine w. Tibetan gods