I am in a contemplative mood.
Myanmar was a wonderful country to visit. The people there, especially the older generation, have clearly lived through tremendous upheaval, and have lived under military rule for most of their lives. The country has dropped from one of Asia’s wealthiest to a nation of mainly poor people; from a nation with 90% or more literacy to a nation of perhaps under 20% literacy. Many children are clearly not in school, and are working in various ways. The country has only recently opened to large numbers of foreign visitors and after a long period of isolation, it now faces an onslaught of travellers from all over the world.
I have to admit it: being a tourist there created conflicting emotions in me. On the one hand, tourism is bringing money, service jobs, and hopefully an increased quality of life (at least for some). On the other, tourism is very rapidly changing what appears (to an outsider like me) a slow-paced, simple way of life. Pagodas, which are both community and religious centres, are overrun with tourists. Those with the best sunset views are covered in tourists as we climb walls and jockey for position. Traffic is increased, as tour buses and tourists on various bikes and mopeds add strain to a largely decrepit transportation infrastructure. Myanmar, like other nations before it, will not survive tourism unscathed or unchanged. But for local people, perhaps that is a welcome change. Or perhaps not…
We are now leaving Myanmar (or Burma). It was one of my favorite ports, if not the best. The first thing we did was explore Yangon (or Rangoon). We went to a market and got the most comfortable pants in the world. These immortal gods take the form of the amazing elephant pants. Do not worry it is not elephant skin!
Then we went to pretty temples and I washed my Buddha (he was starting to smell bad). Next we had a snack and got in a cab to a pretty park and took a shuttle to the ship. Then we took a day of rest on the ship. Then got up at 3:30 am for our flight (yea… no!). We got to Bagan and went to two temples and a smelly bean curd factory.
Then we went to the hotel and took a 2 hour break (this is a nice recurring theme). Next it was another temple, then to a big temple to watch the sunset. Then dinner and a strange non-child oriented puppet show.
The next day we went to more temples and my favorite part: a local village. Then we went to the hotel for free time. Next we went to a school and gave them tooth brushes and a donation. Then went to a lacquer shop that was really pretty. Then an amazing horse sunset ride. The next day we went to a palm juice factory. Then we went to monkey s**t mountain. It was nasty. Then we went to the hotel for free time. Next we drove to the docks for a beautiful sunset boat ride. Then we woke up at 4:30 am to go to the airport and get a police escort to the ship.
We were in Myanmar and the first thing we did was go to a bean factory [the odd thing was we weren’t going to do it but they insisted]. There I saw the thinnest cat ever and a cat in a tree 🙂 then we ate lunch 😦
Next, two temples, and then we went to a temple were you go to the top and look out in to the horizon; it’s cool. Next we went to dinner 🙂 Then we went to a white temple to see the sunset. Then we went to an awesome hotel. The next day we went to two cool temples. We also went to a village and there I got to pet a cow.
DON’T BE A COW!
Next we went to the hotel and waited and waited then we went to a Buddhist run school and I played a lot of throwing games with the kids there.