Guest Post: Burma

Here is a guest post from Henry on his Burma trip – as you’ll see, his pictures are quite moving!

Food

The national dish of Myanmar is a fish soup and noodles dish called Mohingar. It’s usually eaten for breakfast, and you can buy it on any street corner. I have to admit, though, that since I’m about to become the dad to another toddler I restricted my Mohingar intake to the hotel. The toppings include fried chickpeas and fish cakes. Needless to say, I had it every day, and it is probably the best soup I have ever eaten.

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Hotel Mohingar for Breakfast. The newspaper is the New Light of Myanmar, a state-owned paper that will be turned into a public service news outlet as part of our project.

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Street Mohingar for Breakfast. Probably tastier, but the bowls are washed using the old dunk-in-water-bucket-and-wipe.

Culture

Especially since we were there during the mild season (i.e., only 90 degrees during the day), the streets in Myanmar were overflowing with people. In addition to the aforementioned mohingar tables in the mornings, vegetable and spice booths were everywhere. And there was lots of jade for sale at the many markets.

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Nuns on a very hot bus

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Newspapers for sale on the street. Many of these were banned just a few months ago.

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Roasted tomatoes

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Fresh veg

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Kiwis or Aussies bargaining for gold or jade

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Obama tees in the market, left over from his November visit, along with Aung San Suu Kyi

Religion

Myanmar is heavily Buddhist-influenced. Monks in crimson robes are everywhere. The open-air pagoda complexes are filled with families praying and leaving offerings. Myanmar’s most famous religious site is the Shwedagon Pagoda, which is over 2500 years old. Rudyard Kipling wrote about it back in 1889, calling it a “a golden mystery that upheaved itself on the horizon, a beautiful winking wonder that blazed in the sun.”

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Monk meditating before a buddha in Shwedagon. Yes, those are blinking electric lights behind the buddha’s head.

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Pagoda at dusk

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Father and son at prayer

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Smaller pagoda near our hotel

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Monk X-ing

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