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

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Zorig, departure, and more

On the plane from Bangkok I sat next to the most interesting
character. He was a Siberian (Northern Mongolian) Russian who
originally came to Myanmar 20 years ago to be a monk--which he was for
16 years! He now works in some kind of joint-venture oil company (that
doesn't get any oil, he said!), and just loves Myanmar, but regrets
his drinking habits and is fascinated with religion. He spoke Thai,
Burmese, Russian, and his Mongolian dialect, among other languages,
and his English was excellent (and self-taught or so he said). Perhaps
he was a spy, and a very charming one. What a very interesting

So I have left Myanmar for good. It has been a surreal few weeks and
an even more unreal departure. Friends are gone, there are no
farewells or the slow move towards end of term to prepare us. Yangon
is still a crazy town, but at least aid is arriving (as are
journalists!), but the government still has a tight reign on
everything. The foreigners that were getting through before are now
blocked from going to even delta regions of Yangon Division. I met two
very frustrated photojournalists who are going home empty handed, but
not for lack of trying. Aid trucks were going down with local groups
every day, so aid was reaching the people, and other agencies finally
got government permission. ASEAN is supposed to be helping and now Ban
Ki Moon is in town to discuss the situation. Big Gen Than Shwe finally
made an appearance as well! Supposedly he was hiding away and shunning
the bad luck/fortune of the situation. Two boats of refugees that the
government asked to leave a monastery apparently sunk with 1300 people
aboard, but that's still unconfirmed and rumours about here and get
larger and larger with exaggeration the further they spread.

Myanmar and those hardworking long-suffering people are getting on
with their lives with the little bit of aid that gets through. How
much have you given to help?

1 comment:

Rama said...

Sometimes the people sitting next to you on flights can be really fun... see ya in a few weeks!!