Final Thoughts

Trip Start May 05, 2008
1
27
119
Trip End May 05, 2013


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Where I stayed
Motherland Inn II

Flag of Myanmar  ,
Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Myanmar is the poorest and most interesting country I have ever been to. It is a true third world country, the common people are very poor and the military government is quite separate from the people and rules the country with only its own interests at heart. The people here are amazing and they are very open and friendly. Men wear skirts called longees and many like to chew Betal Nut with tobacco. Everywhere you walk you will see red blood like stains on the streets from where people spit out the betel nut. Yangon is the government capital but they are creating a new capital between Yangon and Mandalay. When you arrive in Yangon and walk the streets it is like being in a different world. You will see old cars chugging around, pickup buses packed to the gills, grease shops, tea shops, scrap metal. The pavement is all cracked and broken and the streets are in bad shape. There is life going on everywhere and you can see so many things happening while drinking a tea or "Super Coffee Mix" at one of the many roadside teashops. There is a good one incidently just down from Motherland with noname.

People have no money for powertools or machinery. You will see alot of things done by hand that you won't see elsewhere. Particularly when you get out into the countryside you will see that horse and cart, bicycle and strange tractors with open engines are used extensively. Buffalo are used to plough the fields. Often you will see a row of woman working all day, 7 days a week in the paddy field for $1 a day. People don't have much here and it is not because the country is poor. In fact it is quite mineral rich and teak is a major export here. However, anything good or valuable is taken by the government. The infrastructure is terrible, the roads are in ruins, yet at almost every town, bridge or village you must pay a toll to the government. Inflation in Myanmar is at 50%, peoples incomes are not going up to match and the price of a bag of rice has doubled in the last year. The rising cost of oil is squeezing people even further. Fuel is rationed here. Drivers must carry a little book with them and it is noted down how much fuel they bought that day. I think you are allowed 4 gallons a day or something like that. You can buy fuel on the black market but it is up to 4 times the price. International banks pulled out of Myanmar years ago. People don't use the government run banks. The interest rate they offer is 10% and the people believe that their money is not safe there. Instead people who have some money buy gold, jade, jewellery, cars and property. Myanmar is the only country I know of where the value of a car goes up instead of down. The government limits the supply of new cars into the country often keeping the best for themselves. Also they have a strange rule in Yangon not permitting motorbikes. Only government people are allowed to use motorbikes in Yangon. Much of Myanmars hardware and engines are produced in China but they get the poor quality stuff. Chinese products exported to Europe or America are of a much higher quality.

Myanmar is an amazing country to visit and it will leave a lasting impression in your heart. I hope one day that things will change here and the people and country will be allowed to come out of the doldrums.

We spent almost 3 weeks here and made a number of friends here. We stuck predominantly to the tourist trial (not many tourists at the moment) and perhaps if we were ever to return here we would like to venture a little further off the beaten track.

Arriving back in Thailand after 3 weeks in Myanmar, you will be amazed at how modern and developed it is here and yet just one hour west and you might be forgiven for thinkin that you stepped back in time 50 years ago.

We got to like Star Cola and Super Coffee mix very much while we were here.

From Yangon we fly to Bangkok and catch a flight up to Chiang Mai.
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