Impressions from Burma

housesrangoon

Out of the plane I can hear “Geee-cko-Geee-cko” coming from the main building. This is Rangoon International Airport. It is quite and darkish.

French raiders in the hotel bar discuss the ‘great opportunities’ of Burmese antiques under the ‘current circumstances’.

My local contact secretly squirrels away gems for an escape abroad. He looks at the stacks of local bills and says: ‘This no good’.

Our lapidary keeps the doors open. No security is needed. Burma is safe, as long as you don’t mess with the generals.

First time visitors shed tears at the Shwedagon Paya.

A sign at the muddy river: ‘No foreigners beyond this point’. There is no brigde.

Hollywood-stile villas and new SUVs proof that economic sanctions don’t work for the upper 1000.

My taxi has wooden seats and a plastic bucket taped to the floor. It is half full with red slime. Many Burmese still chew betel-nuts, but they are not allowed to spit on the streets anymore.

Strings hang from upper apartments replacing electric bells.

Grand colonial buildings are occupied by the military. Specky shirts hang to dry from broken windows. Nobody is allowed on the sidewalk. They are serious: I get yelled at.

A local garage makes ‘new’ cars; by hand; one by one; out of scrap metal and an engine. They produce three per month at $1.5k

Drunken monks fight over cigarettes. Religion can be anything.

Burmese food is delicious, not just numbing hot or sweet, but individually cooked, untouched by industrial standards.

Nobody dances at a pop festival. VIP kids sit behind security and fences.

No ATMs, no mobile phones and no computers proof that economic sanctions do work for the lower 35.000.000.

A grainy TV show features stone-faced farmers dancing in shabby costumes. A subtitle reads: ‘Here they still live happily without foreigners’. So very thin they are.

For good and bad, Burma is past caged in a country and its people.


5 Comments on “Impressions from Burma”

  1. Ana says:

    Sounds like home, not two decades ago. I’ll keep this page in mind to the next fellow short of memory I meet – there’s plenty…

  2. maria says:

    are you a gemologist? i bought a ruby from a burmese (might have been a military guy) in an international bangkok jewelry trade show. i was obsessed in having a baeutiful burmese ruby. i wonder if it was unheated as the price was substantial.

  3. google says:

    Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after
    checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking
    and checking back often!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s