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On the stairway rising to Moulmein's great Buddhist shrine, the visiting British writer Rudyard Kipling was inspired to pen one of the most anthologized poems of the English language.Tourists are still few compared to an influx to other areas of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, that followed the end of military rule in 2011 and the electoral victory of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi last year.Our party recently took the most scenic route to Mawlamyine: by car from Yangon to Hpa-An, the pleasant capital of Myanmar's Karen State, and from there by hired boat down the Salween, one of the world's longest, still free-flowing rivers. The monastery's small palace contains some of Myanmar's most exquisite carvings, commissioned by Queen Sein Don, one of 45 consorts of the Mindon, the penultimate king of Myanmar.While Mawlamyine's Buddhist shrines will surely be preserved, the colonial heritage along with the city's unique character, is imperiled.
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