Wednesday, March 5, 2008

More Myanmar

I will probably be out of touch for a bit here, but I wanted to post a few more things before I leave for the country side.

Myanmar continues to be an experience unlike any other. It is so different from anywhere else that I have traveled. Each day seems to be an emotional rollercoaster. As I've mentioned a million times now the people are fantastic. They are the warmest people I have ever met. They are also the poorest. This contrast and the many things I have mentioned and am about to mention make this the best country of the trip. Hands down. Here are some more things about Myanmar.

If you are caught owning a copy of Rambo 4 you receive twelve years in jail. While I personally agree that anyone who enjoys watching Sylvester Stallone act probably should be in jail that still seems a bit harsh. For those of you who don't know apparently Rambo kicks Myanmar Junta ass in the latest installment.

There are almost no cell phones. You have to have a permit to own one and it is insanely expensive. Depending on who you talk to the price ranges from $500-$4000. If you are caught with one guess what? Jail.

The French dude was deported last night. At least he's not in jail.

The monks here (I heard there are about 700,000 in the country) are in pretty rough shape. Instead of collecting alms like they do in other countries they are literally begging in the streets. It is really fucking awful to see hundreds of monks begging for pennies.

I am revising the earlier statement about the average (I believe I said median age before. oops!) age of cars. New estimate 40-50 years old on average.

In Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon) there is a ban on motorcycles. The story goes that two years ago some guys on motor bikes pissed off one of the ruling generals when he was driving down the road. Next day, no motorbikes allowed. If you are riding one in the city guess what? Jail.

They drive on the right side of the road but 90% of the cars have steering wheels on the right hand side as well. Apparently one day in the 70's the government decided to stop driving on the left side like those damn Brits and start doing it the proper American way. Since all the cars are from the 50's and 60's they are still set up for the British system. The change supposedly happened in one night. One day you were driving on the left the next day on the right. Can you imagine the chaos of those first few mornings?!?! I wonder how many people freaked out cause they didn't get the memo about that one...

Finally I need to print a retraction. Yesterday I stated that there is no evidence of a middle class in this country. That is not true. I am incredibly frustrated by what I am seeing here, and I may have overstated things a bit. There is a middle class. It may be small and fledgling, but it does exist.

Well that's all for now. I should mention that all the things I am mentioning here are unconfirmed. They are just what the locals are telling me or what I am witnessing for myself. Given the Burmese tendency to exaggerate it is difficult to gauge what is true and what is not.

I'm headed to the hills. More in a few days.


wanderingpugilist said...

that is actually where I'm going. Got my reservation for a hammock or a tent, don´t really know. funny this is it's going to be the most i've ever paid for accomodation. where abouts are you now?

Jennifer Lee said...

so glad you were able to get to myanmar. it was top on my list and due to some misinformation i didnt end up going. looks as rad as i thought it would be.