Sunset over Karen State

From the side of a temple compound, perched high above the Salween (Thanlwin) valley in eastern Myanmar’s Karen State, this photo captures a fraction of the region’s grandeur. The setting sun, the steep mountain path, the sharp, fresh air. Memorable.

It’s an adventure tourism promoter’s dream.

As part of this series of micro-posts from across Myanmar I am looking not merely to give a sense of social, economic and political change. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that in places where there has been great suffering and hardship — and I would put the Karen State squarely in that category — there is often great beauty and wonder on show.

The modest hotel infrastructure of Hpa-an, the Karen State’s capital, is already groaning under the weight of recent tourist arrivals. It is easy to see why.

More generally, and with planning and investment, this area could be Burma’s next bustling destination; once the peace deals and business climate stabilise. The potential for easy overland access from Thailand suggests that this slice of Burma could be one of the first “remote” areas to boom under President Thein Sein’s rule.

That won’t be to everyone’s taste. But it will surely mean that one of the country’s historically poorest and most dangerous regions will never be the same again.

This series of posts is based on a visit to Myanmar in January-February 2013