Asia | South East Asia | Burma (Myanmar) | Mandalay – mandalay (again)
Early in the morning Pyin U Lwin looked a bit like a desolated village in a wild west movie. A very peculiar atmosphere. We had a nice breakfast of banana parati and milk tea. It is completely accepted in this country that I’m in charge of the money and not Albert. We took the pick up truck to Mandalay.
On my own. First to the market, Chinese style and that means load and loads of the same stuff. Now I’m on the grounds of a beautiful paya. Lots of buddha’s, the tinkling of bells, shade of old trees, the buzzing of children voices and a little breeze. There is a beautiful tiled floor in pastel colors. I found a place to sit with a view on a silver Buddha and two old women. I want to stay here for the rest of my life and forget all my silly (and serious) worries.
In the afternoon we spent some time in a tea shop. Being small is a blessing when you have to sit on these small, low stools. First a Sikh takes a seat at ‘our’ table. He has a mobile phone and drinks his tea in a hurry but he is hospitable as his faith demands him to be and he insists on paying for our tea and sweets. Our next companion was a vicar who spoke a little English but it was almost impossible to understand what he was trying to tell us.
We had dinner in a Shan restaurant and afterwards we walked into a kind of street festival, fun fair. A few merry go rounds and lots of children exploiting home made games. A boy of about 7 years old acted as a fully qualified croupier in a kind of roulette game. They sold paya’s made of cigarette cartons and of course lots of snacks. A little boy and girl were singing and making music with little drums, rattles and bells. It was moving to hear these clear voices and see these big brown eyes, surrounded by kohl, in the small faces. Very nice to walk around and smile back at all those smiling people. Like this morning on the temple grounds it is impossible to catch the atmosphere in a photograph, so my camera stays in my bag and with all my senses I enjoy this moment and store it in my heart.
A day of leisure but with a lot of information about the awful circumstances the people are living in. There is a lot of hunger up in the hills. There is enough rice in Mandalay but the people are not allowed to bring it into the hills. The government takes the rice. People have to pay for all the medicines they need, also when they are admitted in a hospital. The medication costs a lot of money and is of very poor quality. Almost everything I have seen is much older than the date of expiring and it is certainly not stored in a refrigerator. The universities are closed since 1996. The government blames Aung San Suu Kyi. The real reason is that it is a threat to have all students gathered in one place. Besides it is more safe to keep the people ignorant. Not that the universities were that good. They study chemistry without ever seeing a laboratory on the inside. Doing an exam implied learning by heart a part of a text and reciting it (or you could pay your way out). The percentage that succeeded was high, good for the statistics.