Entry #27: Thou shall not swat flies

Sorry for the delay between entries. I have been having major technical difficulties. Anyway, Burma.

First, a little history: Burma was taken over by an oppressive military junta a while back and in the 90's there was outside pressure to have a democratic election. The military agreed to hold an election, but when they lost by an overwhelming landslide, the government jailed the elected president and did not recognize the peoples’ voices. Since then there have been economic sanctions, and most of the world has cut off political ties. The result of which, funny enough, is that Burma has had its culture preserved from consumerism and is one of the few places on earth where you can't get a Coke, McDonalds, KFC or even Starbucks.

As you can see from the photos it is very different from the west. The men wear dresses, also called a longi, and the women wear a type of makeup that looks like pancake batter. They think it makes them look more attractive.


I arrived and headed straight to the Swedagon Pagoda, which is the only thing to see in Rangoon. While I was there I met a Buddhist monk, Pandita, who would be my companion and guide for the next 48 hours. But when I first met him it was dusk and the mosquitoes started to swirl around my head. I started swatting the mosquitoes like Danny from the karate kid. Not knowing much about Buddhism, I asked him to describe the basic tenets of Buddhism. He gave me a list of 5, one of which I was violating in force the whole time I was talking to him: "never harm another creature." I must have killed 20 mosquitoes before he mentioned that. Whoops, my bad!

Pandita was a pretty ingenious guy. Since the military won't let its people leave Pandita would go to the Pagoda daily to get information on the outside world ( the internet does not exist in Burma) from the forgein tourist who come to visit the pagoda. He has learned how to speak english and 7 other languages and was attempting to help his freinds do the same. He invited them to come along with us on second day we hung out together.

Now off to India...

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