Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Impressions from Burma

Most of the sights in Burma are not that spectacular in themselves. It
is the encounters along the way that fascinate us, take us by
surprise, touch our hearts, and put us in awe.


In the 11th century King Anawrahta set out to make Burma the center of
Theravada Buddhism. This is still very much evident today. We have
seen more buddhas and stupas in than our whole lifetimes' combined,
not even counting those we pass by en route.


The Burmese are a gentle people. They work hard, and unlike the
Chinese, they know when to stop. This makes it pleasant and easy to
travel here. Relative to the level of development, there are
comparatively few thefts, scams, begging, and peddling, except for the
painting and postcard peddlers in Bagan.


For the level of development, or the lack of, we consider Burma clean,
though it has a fair amount of trash. Toilets do not smell (this is
huge for Sun-Ling); trash is gathered and burned, largely at the
individual level; horse carts wear diapers in town. The Burmese are
clean. Men, women, and children, can be seen at every body of water,
at all times of the day, bathing, doing laundry, and scrubbing
sandals.


We would be lying if we said Burma has no roads and no electricity,
but it would not be that far from the truth. Without a doubt that
responsibility lies with the government. Nevertheless it makes us
wonder why the UN has to build foot bridges in villages where people
are goldfoiling buddhas beyond recognition in fantastic temples.


By the 3rd week we have lost most of the weight we have gained in
Shanghai over the past two years. If it were not for antibiotics, we
could have died too.


We are now trying to work Burma in for our trans- Eurasia trip next year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was wonderful to hear from you and to know that you are having such an amazing adventure. The pictures are great too!
Cathy