Myanmar. Burma. Stole a piece of my heart AND my phone.
I'm thankful for the miracle of modern technology and icloud which allows me to access music, apps, and some photos from before. Also, shout-out to generous travel buddies and friends who have allowed me to share these photos from our visit with you all. Not all is lost...memories I pray will be forever etched in my mind as well as my heart...to not forget what I've experienced and seen. My hope is to share with others the situation in Burma and the brokenness that is so real and think of ways we can actively support and advocate for those that don't have a voice with their people, tribes in a country that does a poor job of caring for it's people.
Visiting Burma was not what I call fun. Yet, it was good and needed. The experience has left me still processing through so much and figuring out my place/calling in it all.
I will try my best to share lightly these experiences now, although I would love to share more in person.
I wouldn't consider Burma to be the ultimate spring break trip-unless you don't mind living in dust, dirt, grime, sweat and in the midst of poverty similar to Africa (so I've heard) for a few days.
I can say I wasn't planning on entering this recently opened county (it was one of the only closed countries besides North Korea until 2011/12) ever, even while living in Thailand. When the opportunity presented itself, I knew I should take it, considering the friendships and relations I have made with the population in the U.S. and Thailand and the deep desire I have to better understand the situation so many endured and see some of the land they call home. The only way to legally (safely) enter this country is to obtain a tourist visa.
The first few days were spent in Mandalay (north) and the last few in Yangon (southern capital). The moment I stepped off the plane I noticed the outdated 60's-70's style interior and run-down, unkempt exterior of buildings. This was seen throughout Burma and expected since it was cut-off from the rest of the world for quite a while.
There was a strange eerie, silence in the run-down airport...the feeling I had when looking across into N. Korea...
The landscape in the central part of the country was dry, brown, dusty, flat with palm trees rising up among ancient gold-leaf temples. Right away it felt like I stepped into another world-little to no western (foreign) influence. Foreigners were few and far between. Literally, the entire time people treated us like celebrities and wanted their picture with us...westerners are rare. This was difficult to accept. Also, there was a tremendous amount of begging and everyone called us "money" which is sad. The country is primarily animist Buddhist. They believe that all things have 'nats' or spirits and when someone dies they become an animal/plant based on merit. Many people spend their days at wats/temples praying to buddhas and making sacrifices to receive good things. Sadly, much of the money that people give to buddha goes to the wrong hands and not to the people who need it, not to mention they are putting their hope in idols and ending up disappointed...let down not only by their faith, but also their government.
The languages varied since there are so many tribes within Burma and so English is becoming a foundational language for many. Although conversations were limited. Many people we met had a great sense of humour.
Some fascinating cultural things I noticed:
What pictures can not capture:
Pray all people and tribes of Burma would be heard. Pray for a positive response. Pray that they would be united, their days of suffering would end and they would find true faith and hope without fear.
More than anything...pray that one day the many, thousands of Burmese refugees in Thailand, my friends/community in the U.S. and the rest of the world, would be able to safely return and once again live in the country they call first called home.
Click on the following are sources if you would like to know more about the political situation and ways to get involved or help (FBR):