burma is a strange country, we have seen truly beautiful sights, old pagodas in an abundance like nowhere else, monks, monks, monks, coming in all age groups, cold myanmar beer for the tired traveller, food that is mostly not made for tourists. tea leaf salad for example: the leafs are stuffed into a bamboo cane and buried in earth for half a year, then they are fermented enough to be mixed with the popular rotten fish sauce, add some dried banana, peanuts and whatever else is on hand…
also there is politics all over the place. people were forcefully removed from their homes, because they were too close to major sights. people were forced to built the highways which are now quite empty except for the occasional tourist bus, everything has the aura of minor depression. at the same time, I kept repeating to myself, this country is changing, there has been some sort of a democratic turn, etc etc.
in mandalay we went to see the moustache brothers, a group of comedians, who have been sent on seven year prison sentences for telling critical jokes. after that they were only allowed to perform in English, as not to influence burmese people, and they were limited to perform at their home only, and only cover traditional burmese dances. they still stick to this programme. using the time inbetween the dances for political jokes and remembering their audience that there are still more than 200 political prisoners waiting to be released.
leaving burma and coming into thailand was quite liberating, even if they have political unrest at the moment. they stopped their protest on the day we came in to celebrate their beloved king’s birthday.