I’ve just come back from a trip into mysticism, culture, beauty and humor…let me quickly share this with you before my busy life takes away the wonderful flavours of an amazing civilisation. Myanmar or Burma? Only the UN and Switzerland where I live use Myanmar for what Aung San Suu Kyi and her partisans call Burma. Historically, both names have coexisted pretty much the same way the Swiss Confederation is known as Switzerland…Burma is actually an english coinage of Bama, the nickname for Myanmar (source, Birmanie, Edition Olizane)
I initially had all the intentions NOT TO VISIT MYANMAR until it was a fully democratic country. It is still quite far from it and Students upsurge (click for more) taking place as I write this article might lead to a new clash and the procrastination of the “october elections” due later this year.
To this we have to add a real ethnic mosaic dimension of populations which rebell against a government which takes every opportunity to ally with some against some others. The most recent of these conflicts being the bill giving a white card to foreign muslims in order to allow them to vote and thus support the military government (click on the link to read more on this).
All this, added to the real misery I witnessed during my short visit to Mae Sot had convinced me to wait…until a friend of mine, too weak to undertake this long trip on her own and full of wonderful memories of her previous visit to Bagan, asked me to accompany her and try to dig into her past.
This enabled me to discover an amazingly diverse population with one common feature, a sense of humor rarely witnessed in such different circumstances elsewhere in Southeast Asia! I’ve never laughed so much and so frankly with people of a culture so different from mine.
I guess they need a great dose of humor to be able to stand the political instability. I was lucky enough to be able to witness the preparations of the festivities celebrating the hundredth anniversary of General Aung San, the Myanmar National Day (honestly I didn’t hear much on this…) and Valentine’s Day, a proof that globalisation has reached even the banks of Lake Inle…!
What is the most striking feature however, for any traveller to Burma is its religious aspect. I’ve never seen so many, so old and so revered pagodas, stupa and other temples….Never seen so many Buddahs covered with golden leaves….
I was extremely impressed with the Shan Culture and Cuisine…so leave you with some of my pictures I’d be delighted to comment, if I had more time…yet I believe you prefer when I write less and let you enjoy on your own my pictures 😉