I recently traveled to Myanmar. My travel expectations were cautiously optimistic given its recent political and militaristic history. But I knew that it was an opportunity that I just could not pass up. I went thinking that I might discover and experience a new landscape – which I did. But what surprised me more were the people and their culture.
I discovered a country in transition. The contrast between the larger city of Yangon and the small tiny villages were eye opening. With Myanmar in a state of “under construction”, so to speak, I believe the time to visit the country is now. Myanmar won’t not be the same country in even ten years time from now. The influx of investment money from the outside world will change this small third world country, hopefully for the better.
I was particularly fascinated by the historic Buddhist relics throughout the region. With 95% of the population practicing Buddhism, there are thousands of temples and pagodas, some as old as 600 to 1000 years old. I was also fascinated how the city of Yangon is being transformed into a modern metropolis. Yangon reminds me of mainland China during the 1980-90’s. You can still find recently completed high rise hotels and condos with horse drawn carts carrying fruits and vegetables on the street.
For the sake of brevity, I want to share one of my visits to a small isolated village in Chin region of northern Myanmar. I want to share a few of my photographs which illustrates this unique world.
Although it took 6 hours on a small river boat, the day long journey was worth the humid hardship. I traveled on the river starting from the coastal city of Sittwe. Still on the river, I passed through a small town called Mrauk-U where I stayed for a day. At sunrise, I got onto the boat an reached a remote Chin village. My local guide told me that this village was a great example of the Chin people. It is a place where the river acts as the main source of food, drink water, bath, and linkage to the region. This small village had no vehicular roads, but was organized around a series of pathway connecting the small thatched roof houses. The local people were warm, inviting and curious about us foreigners.
Although everyday modern day conveniences such as running water or flush toilets were absent, I did experience something much more profound: the love of family, joy of children, and the respect of the elders and community. The experience made me ponder the true meaning of community in the world.
I think this is where it was invented.