Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Mystery Destination!

Well, the sights, sounds and smells of Burma have occupied us (consumed us would be more accurate) for the last twelve days. But where are we off to next?

Yesterday we experienced Yangon in all its glory. The grid-pattern of streets in the central part of the city are teeming with exotic life; the old, rotting colonial buildings tell of a faded glory; the stark, austere and fortified military buildings hint at the horrors of this evil regime, and the odours of all manner of dried spices and herbs in street and market stalls recall the pungent flavours of Burmese cuisine. This city ceased to be the capital some years ago, when a new city was born at Naypydaw. Foreigners are not permitted here, and we passed through on the train at night to see bright lights and concrete buildings. Yesterday we heard the true reason for the relocation of the governement to this new city, and the reason for many parts of the country near where we stayed being out-of-bounds. The hills which surrounded us are rich in Uranium, and the extraction is on a vast scale. One of the Generals was recently executed for blowing the whistle on a top-secret meeting with North Korea to develop a nuclear programme. So there it is: this austerely Buddhist country with the kindest, most gentle people has a government hell-bent on joining an arms race along with the usual suspects when it comes to rogue states. Nobody in the west seems to care, after all, there's no oil here...

To give just one example of the kindness which seems almost genetic here, as Simon was walking along past a market stall, his flip-flop broke in two just on the bit which goes between the toes. A young girl carefully fixed it with a safety pin, and refused to accept any form of payment. Everybody (grateful pedestrian included) grinned for a long time before normal life resumed! This happened on a stroll to visit the vast, golden Shwedagon Pagoda for sunset, when the air is heavy with incense and the sound of chanted prayers as the sun lights up the golden stupa. Magical.

But now, Burma lies behind us! So where, exactly, are we off to next? Well have a guess and see if you are right! We'll tell you when we get there, and now that we have a more resonable internet connection, we might just treat you to a blog entry devoted to many more of the fantastic photos we both took back in Myanmar. As for now, it's time to get some more sunblock and dig out the swimshorts...

Why not give us a call over the next few days if you'd like to hear our impressions of Burma, a recipe for Tom Yum, or just a general chit-chat about our new itinerary?! 0066 87 80 78 663

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