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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 152 > Making a difference

Making a difference

When turmoil strikes, what can we do to help? Myanmar has been the source of some troubling headlines, but that’s why it’s even more meaningful to visit, as Ali Roff experienced…
PHOTOGRAPHS: ALI ROFF; GALLERY STOCK; STOCKSY; ROBERT HARDING; ISTOCK

When I was 18, I bought a round-the-world ticket, packed a backpack and, slightly petrified, headed off into the unknown for the adventure of a lifetime. I always vowed I would take another trip, but life got in the way. Fast-forward a decade, and I decided to try to recapture the essence of that backpacking adventure in my two-week summer holiday, booking a trip to Myanmar (formally Burma). I chose to journey with Rickshaw Travel, because they believe in ‘responsible travel’ – trips with more meaning at their heart; supporting local communities, businesses and people by bringing tourism directly to them.

Myanmar only opened its doors to tourism in 1992, and although it has plenty to offer in the form of raw and unspoilt culture and natural beauty, the tourism industry has been slow to develop. However, the number of tourists has grown each year, with the people of Myanmar welcoming them with their beautiful melodic ‘minglabar’ (hello). More recently though, the country of Myanmar has been the subject of unsettling news. The northern state of Rakhine (which remained closed to tourism) has made headlines with the growing refugee crisis of the Rohingya people fleeing Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh, with reports of burning villages and thousands killed.

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