A Nation in Transition. By Wayne Thomas
Myanmar has recently opened its doors to tourists and to the world. The influx of people along with the increase in global capitalism within Myanmar is starting to bring massive change to a country that has been closed off for decades.
The country is dominated by its deep rooted Buddhist heritage. There is a temple, stuppa, pagoda or a monk usually within a few meters anywhere in the country it seems.
"On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin'-fishes play, An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!" Rudyard Kipling
The heart of the country sits in the former capitol of Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. It is the center of commerce and has the main airport for the country. It is also home to the Swedagon Pagoda. This 2500 year-old structure is the Eiffel Tower of this Paris of Asia.
Mingalaba. This is their standard greeting. It sounds like "mingle" plus the famous band from the 70s, "Abba". This word brought smiles and laughter everywhere. One of the differences is that people were heavily surveilled by the government, a harsh military rule that has recently leaned more towards democracy with open elections. If a tourist or nonnative was seen talking with a local, this local would expect an immediate interrogation from a nearby government official on what had just transpired.
While basic accommodations such as consistent electricity, plumbing and telecommunications are still inconsistent in many parts of the country, people find time to recreate. Traveling carnivals and concerts can be seen as well as people playing games of chance and atheletics.
Myanmar. A developing country sought after by opportunity seeking corporations and travelers hoping to step back in time. It will be interesting to watch the changes that will take hold of this nation in the years and decades to come.
Copyright Wayne Thomas, 2014. usaWayne@gmail.com