Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sheltering from Rain in Myanmar

Mywaddi Temple Mural

Early morning, Eline left on a solo expedition to renew her visa. Passport control, on the Entry Port of the Union of Myanmar, is run by excessively friendly officers, one of which catches me in my pre-coffee confusion of whether to stand or sit. Passports are kept at the office... for our own safety of course.

On the Burma side, it is business as usual, as if it were any other border crossing in the world. Ants hard at work. Busy bees scoring a couple thousand Kyat (local currency). "Minglaba! Hello!" come from far and wide, off the sidewalk and from inside shops. Friendly faces greet the sleepy foreigner and stir life back into my dreamy estate.

"Ommo," is my driver for the day and he pushes me through the city of Myawaddy in a Burmese cyclo; a multifunctional wheelbarrow, suitable to transport matter and masses. The roads off the well-built main road are plackarded with signs reading "Crime free week" and "City of Myawaddy works together to eradicate problems of drug use". Farther from main cement, roads quickly deteriorated into pot-holes and dirt.

Burmese Taxi

Unfortunately, economic strains are revealed through foods and bricks of Kyat bills locals carry (a stipling inflation). Roti Myawaddy comes without a rich serving of condensed milk as is the norm throughout Thailand. Samosas, too, lack a variety of vegetables, and ones I taste, with a watered down chilli sauce, were made of onion. I am confident to say that a lack of sweetness and richness in food breeds evidence of limited economic wealth.

Sheltering from the rain at a coffee shop, I become witness to the military face of Burma. A policeman at a table adjacent jumps up to regulate traffic. All traffic is forced to turn left. Several more policemen join, each geared with a masschetee, gun, and a pocket reading "US" (Is it fake or donated?). The commotion is for the locomotive of military vehicles that drive by wrecklessly, jeeps loaded with six to seven men and a centered machine gun.

Ommo takes me to a temple built on top of a giant green crocodile. It is a men's sanctuary so women are forbidden to walk the bridge. Pas de problemes, as instead I become enthusiastic for the opportunity that has presented itself otherwise: bearing witness to hundreds of water bottles that have been donated by the Thai government and which are being loaded onto a truck, ready for transportation to the Irrawaddy delta. Due to the rain, many delays are expected. Shibube (Thank you) Thailand.

Cyclone Nagris Aid in Mywaddi

However, the view of each temple top is gratifyingly calming with mountains scenting the horizon with an assured everlasting persence, with golden wats spirituality and collective hope to remain united against irreputable behaviour of a disgusting regime.