Picture it: pagodas, palaces, parks—a paradise for photographers. Keep clicking. Through your lens you see the "new" and "mysterious," the "mystical" and "magical" Myanmar, also known as Burma.
There is so much for tourists to see: Buddhist temples, royal gardens, tranquil rivers, and paddies. (See related photo gallery: "Land of Shadows.")
But wait, wasn't this Myanmar once a xenophobic, tightly controlled, reclusive, repressive country? How can the same place that limited visas and travel for decades now be attracting planeloads of tourists—and branding itself for its "hospitality" and welcoming atmosphere?
Yes, the same country that until 2010 kept its leading dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest, markets itself today as the "Golden Land" of mystical charms and exotic attractions. Sounds almost schizophrenic. But Myanmar may be the best example of a once-closed land that has now discovered the upsides (and possible downsides) of openness, public diplomacy, and tourism.