a message from my friend who just went to burma...
on the 14 of january i flew to rangon in burma
I was looking for some adventure after beeing in bali for a while.i wanted adventure well i had it,big time!!!
I always boycotted burma for it s opression against it s people,but one day i met somebody who made me change my mind.
Things seemed to have change last october when the regime decided to change the FEC system.
you didn t have to change dollars into governement money any longer,when you were arriving at the airport in rangon.
you were free to use dollars and change them in the street
I thought this is the time to go and see this amazing country.i decided to go but
not to give any dollars to the regime.so i did.
i took off in bangkok in an old boeing wich seem to be very old,but looked like it could fly me to rangon.
in the plane i was sitting next to an italian guy called Roberto,we started to joke together and became friends quickly
he was very nervous,i thought he was just nervous about the state of the plane.
i got to know later that Roberto was smuggling precious stones (sapphires and rubies mainly) and some charras (indian hashish).
the hostess said:
~we ll reach rangon in 45 minutes if god(allah) wants it~
i thought oh shit i was right about the state of the plane!
we finally arrived in rangon international airport (not so international actually)after a delay of 3 hours
.i looked by the window and suddenly the whole airport building went black.it was a power cut.
Roberto said to me:
ha!ha!ha! it happens almost everytime i fly to here!!
after clearing the immigration we caught a taxi which seem to date from 1950
and arrived next to sule pagoda in the center of the town.
the next morning i explored the town,and went to swedagon pagoda(biggest buddhist stupa in south east asia)
it was shining like gold in the middle of the burmese sky.
i straight away liked the people very much,smiling to me all the time,and so so kind.
one day i was sitting in the street with a small coffee in my hand,and then i
could really see for the first time the military genta in action
5 people were surrounded by militaries and walking down the small alley
they were forced to civil work and got arrested for political reason.they looked exhausted by work and were carrying cement bags.
the militaries looked at me with their angry faces,and were pissed at me .i ignored them.
i took a bus 2 days later to mandalay in the north.and then met Xavier a french dude and Sarah a german babe
the streets of mandalay were crowded with small vegetable shops,tons of onions and different vegetables everywhere.
people were smiling to me all the time and seemed to be happy to see a white guy hanging around town.
a few days later we went(the 3 of us) to the east next to inle lake,the journey was rough and long.sitting in an old pick up truck,with people on the roof and all around me
i went through the mountains of burma,the road was winding in the jungle.i could see big trees all around,passing small basic villages.
after a 10 hours i could finally see this immense lake,surrounded by big orange hills.it was just so beautiful.all of us were so amazed by the beauty
after a few days we went to bagan in the west of burma.
bagan is a huge area with more then 2000 temples all around,they date from the 10 th century and it s a super place to see
we decided to go but not to pay the entrance fee of 10 us dollars.so we faked some tickets that we had from over foreigners.we rewrote our passport number on it
the day we reached the check point of bagan we were then in big problem.the army didn t accept our tickets and called the police
we were quite scared but knew they couldn t do anything to us.we finally cleared the all story and forced the checkpoint
we had to walk for 3 kilometers towards the town to find accommodation.
we finally jumped on 2 trishaw (burmese bicycles).the drivers were paddling hard on the small road.
once arrived in the town we looked for a cheap hotel.it was very difficult because we had no ticket and no right to be there at all.
after a while we noticed that the army was following us.they were on scooters and there were 3 of them.
everytime i was looking at them they were escaping away.i thought this is it,we ll never find an
i was afraid for the locals who were speaking to us and told them to just walk away.
we decided to go to a local restaurant and hide for a while,and get some food before everything is closed.
we waited for about an hour and then the ~spies~ were away.
the receptionist had no right to accept us in his guest house without any ticket,
so we pretended we would buy it from him the next day
surprisingly he said:
we walked to the rooms and locked ourselves up
it was worth the effort Bagan was just a fantastic place
after all these emotions my friends and me decided to go to pyay
we took a bus at 3 pm and were supposed to reach pyay at 2 o clock in the night
the bus was stopping sometime and somebody was trying to fix something in the engine.we all thought here you go the engine is gonna blow soon
we were right,at 12 o clock the bus stopped in the middle of nowhere.
the locals opened the engine and tried to fix it,after breaking a few tools they just laughed a lot and started to make a fire on the road.
we just laughed about it too,and thought this is adventure anyway.we started to sleep on the bank of the road,in the dust.
we were already so dusty we thought it doesn t matter anymore.
we finally jumped on a truck full of bags of rice,we had to go only for 4 miles before reaching an highway (in burma an highway is a large unpaved dusty road)
our truck had some problems after a while it couldn t go anymore.we jumped out and finally got an old bus which was following us.
we reached pyay at 8 o clock in the morning,after travelling in a totally packed bus.they were about 25 people in a very very small old english bus
from pyay it took us another 17 hours to the west coast.
the scenery of the west coast was amazing,cristal blue water and different bays with coconut trees around.
there were only about 10 tourist hanging around, on a long white sand beach.
i had to go back to rangon and had another 15 hours journey to the capital.and flew back to bangkok.(back to civilisation)
i ll never forget this trip in the land of rubies.
if you know anybody going to burma in a package tour (you never know) please tell them not to go.
they should go with their backpacks and indepentely
otherwise their money is going straight into the dirty hands of one of the worst regime in the world.
Aung san su kyi (world peace price 1996) is still forced to stay at home in rangon.
she is totally isolated from the rest of the world and have no rights at all.
the burmese military genta is in power in burma since 1962 and the rest of the world ignores it totally.
burmese have no right at all,if they speak politics they can go to jail for 3 to 5 years!!
burma is totally isolated,the news are controlled,e mails are forbidden,and people are under constant surveillance
undercover policemen are checking all the time at what the people do in the streets!!