(Please note that Myanmar has gone through dramatic political and economic changes and some of my information may not be update)
Here we are in Burma, ohhh oops, Myanmar. The country with the smiling people and an ever ruling military regime, the open sewege in Yangon, nice food stalls, and the beautiful temples that no single country in Asia can beat. Beautiful tribal people and awesome landscapes.
The teacher in Yangon
On my first day I met a teacher wood craft just random on a street corner when I was walking with my german travel buddy in the centre of Yangon. A friendly, smiley, 56 years old man from the city Mandalay. He proposes to have a drink in a coffee house next door to chat.
“Yes I need to tell you something more about my country, you now, with this fucking government…. I’m sorry”. “Brilliant” was my first tought, so with care we indeed had a nice conversation about the daily life of a Birmese. In low and very gentle voice we continue. What did I find out. First of all the hattress against the “fucking government” (awesome). And why? Well, tis men was forced to leave is his family in Mandalay to teach woodcrafting at a school in the capital for a couple of years. And does he get more? A shitty house with open sewege, 30 dollars a month (that is a dollar a day, well below the poverty level!) Without judging the government we tried to ask more. At least he gets free health care, free education (his kids at least), and a misareble pension of 22 dollars a day.
He tells us that he is glad that we are here and we can show Burma to the rest of the world. “But you really need to be very bad about the government”, he explains. “Myanmar is also very beautiful”, he says, while he is taking a brochure out of his bag. “Look: Bagan is full with old temples, go to there when you visited Mandalay. Also go to Kalaw and do the trekking from here to Inle Lake, where you meet local tribal people and nature. If you have time also go to the nice coast at the Andaman Sea, also consider to reach the black heart of the country, so that on stops beating”, he finishes while pointing at the impressive photos in the (Chinese) written brochure. He points to the Golden Rock and the biggest temple in Bago.
“But excuse me, actually I have to tell you more”, he adds quickly. “I don’t want you to pay the entrance fee for the all the sights, because the government takes it!”, he tells loudly. Some time past and we told him that it would be indeed nice if he can get us in for free. Meaning taking back entrances or “knowing” frinds who work there. anyway, for his sake, the money didn’t flow to the “big G” that day.
We visted some very nice sights and had a few stops at food stalls. Drinking fresh coconut is pretty good and eating in a local restaurant gives a fantasic introduction of Birmese food. No need to tell that our “guide” could just join for free! After 8 hours he brought us back to the hostel. I gave him a pen. He was very glad with this. Another thing to learn: bring this and books. They’ll love it. Also he made the promise to bring two wooden presents for us: real original handmade woodcrafts of non-endagered species of wood.