The recent harsh government crackdown in Myanmar on pro-reform demonstrators has saddened me. I hope significant pressure can be brought to bear by the world community (especially China, the regime's primary enabler) to open this beautiful country.
Two years ago this month, my wife and I spent eight days in Burma. This was one of my all-time favorite trips. We found the people were warm and out-going, and the country quite beautiful. We were in Bagan, Inle Lake, and Yangon (Rangoon). Here are a few thoughts and photos.
I loved the ancient holy city of Bagan (formerly Pagan). It's home to 4,000 Buddhist temples and pagodas. It's said in Bagan that if you close your eyes, spin around, and point your finger, you'll be pointing at a temple, We tried this a number of times and it always worked.
One of Bagan's most famous temples is Ananda. Inside it are four thirty foot tall statues of Buddha (one of which is pictured below left). Below right are two Burmese children.
Here (below left), our ferryman takes us to our lodge. Note that he's using the customary Intha method of paddling with his leg. Not only does this give him greater propulsion. it also free up his arms if he wants to fish. Below right is a local woman carrying wood on her head.
Every village has its own temple. One of the villages on the southern part of Inle Lake has a monastery in which the monks have taught cats to jump through hoops. The monk told me that the calico (below left) is his "number one" performer.
Burma's most famous temple is the Schwedagon in Yangon. It's a vast complex of pavillions and pagodas. The place buzzes with families, visitors, and pilgrims. Here I sit with four young monks (below right). I joked with them that we could be a basketball team (I'd be the center). Lots of fun.
Governments come and go. People endure. This current repressive government will have to allow reform or be replaced.
I hope to return to Burma within the next few years (perhaps to go deeper into the Shan state).