“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Vagabonding al Mundo

Vagabonding al Mundo

This is the link to Cara's blog... she was with me when I recently travelled around Myanmar. She's also an amazing person, and all these posts make a fascinating read!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The beating

I saw my first beating today. It was quite scary. Most of the time here, you don't really see much of anything resembling unhappiness of the people, but today it was a current that was no longer below the surface.

In front of the FMI Center, near to the main tourist market, there was a taxi driver. A policeman was reaching in through his window and repeatedly banging his head with very hard punches. It just made me cringe. It sounds tame but it is upsetting when you see it. You just want to yell at the policeman, but doing anything here will only make things worse.

In New Zealand policemen are resepectable, nice people who are upstanding citizens of the community. Here, when I see any man in a uniform (which is quite often), I shudder and think to myself how slimy they are, and how their smiles are so much more sickening, but I'm probably being unfair. After all, not all policemen are bad people. Also, there are rapists and child-beaters and abusers in the rest of the population. I'm being judgemental and assuming, and its wrong, but here I can't help it.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Trip North

I just got back from a whirlwind trip to the middle north of Myanmar. I went to the tourist sites of Mandalay and Bagan and each was unique and special in its own way, and it was really good to get out of Yangon. Cara and I caught a Burmese festival called Thadingyat (Festival of Lights), were our bums were pinched and monks called out rude things to us… but I’ll give you the full comment on that later when I have more time.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

At the Airport

As I was waiting to collect my friend from the Yangon airport, I reflected on its welcome to the country. There was a depressing dingyness, party due to the existence of only orange lights (with only half working), but also due to the cream walls (such a bad color match). The humidity soaked through to the skin and permeated the mood with patient impatience and frustration with bureaucracy and grime.

A little square arrivals hall about 75 meters across is really all that is inside the constantly-under-construction building. The electronic notice board with the arrival times had more beer sponsorship logo than information about flights (although that could be due to the total of 11 flights arriving all day). There was one set of double doors for people to exit through—and each window pane had a “fragile” sticker haphazardly clinging to the middle. Each sticker was from one of the different airlines that come to Yangon (not that many airlines do). The only other significant sign in the large high-ceilinged room is one advertising London cigarettes.

Officious men and women in uniforms meandered back and forth, all wearing badges of permission – just to get into this waiting area I had to pass by 3 people. Thankfully, as I am foreign I didn’t have to pay the requisite 5c bribe to each, though they are probably quite sour about that.

Overpriced “limo” and taxi stands were the only remotely friendly indicators for tourists in the enormous sea of people waiting behind. One older uniformed man with spectacles sat watching the door in case anyone crazy enough to run through without permission was held back.

I’m glad I came to greet my friend—not that she hasn’t experienced third world airports—it’s just such a depressing place. The new one in Mandalay makes it look like a shack!