A beautiful and culturally rich country cursed for decades with a brutally oppressive regime, Myanmar has in recent years been making headlines for its tentative steps towards democracy.

Following the softening and then removal of a fifteen-year tourism boycott led by the National League for Democracy (Myanmar's leading political opposition party) tourist numbers have swollen but the infrastructure has not yet grown to accommodate them all. Although this means that finding a cheap bed is harder than before, it does make this a fascinating time to discover Myanmar's glittering golden stupas, bountiful rice fields, enigmatic ruined temples and picturesque mountain paths. Most memorable of all, though, are the encounters with people eager to introduce foreigners to their country and their culture. What remains to be seen is whether today's modest political reforms translate into lasting change.