Rod McLaughlin

Burmese Minutes (05 sep 12)

Once over the Burmese frontier at Mai Sae, dozens of durwan dressed in their traditional longyis and ingyis, waving their dahs in the air, greet you with a traditional mali dance and shouts of burra thakin! ('welcome to Burma!'). The tiger hunting isn't what it used to be, but one can round up a regiment of chokra, dressed in their traditional gaungbaungs, to beat the jungle with their pagris. If the maidan is mali, one might manage to bag a brace of tuktoo or two. Otherwise, it's myaype or nothing. If you can speak a little kit kit, you can arrange for a babu to have his machans tell the dudh-wallah to bo-kadaw saya gyi thugyi-min (turn on the telly).

It's not really like that. You cross the border from Thailand into Myanmar, and are given a temporary passport. You are not allowed to travel to Yang-on - it's too dangerous - the government is not in control. Not only is Myanmar savagely repressive, it's incompetent too - they can't even guarantee a safe passage from a major border crossing to the capital. Because of the poverty, hordes of hustlers aggressively compete with each other to sell you duty-free goods. Having discovered I couldn't get any further in Myanmar, I went back across the border to the much better-run state of Thailand. Perhaps it's because Thailand has never been a colony.

I took some great photos of temples around Chiang-Rai, but then accidentally deleted them.


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