Monday, April 11, 2016

Some Impressions on Myanmar: the Country Formerly Known as Burma

Only Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out in the Midday Sun

1) If you live in Singapore, seeking respite from the heat in Myanmar is not a great idea as it is roughly 40 degrees celsius there. And April is the hottest month. Something to think about when planning Spring break.

2) When visiting pagodas, go in the early morning or late afternoon as you need to remove shoes and socks. Those black tiles are unforgiving on the bare soles of your feet. Unless you are auditioning for a Bollywood movie, jumping up and down is not an attractive look.

3) Public buses do not have air conditioning and the number of occupants allowed is more of a recommendation than a legal requirement. On the upside, when it comes time for the driver to signal for a turn, that extra person nearly flying out the passenger seat with flailing arms comes in handy.

4) It's hard to make definite plans as traffic can be atrocious. I'll see you in twenty minutes can easily turn into two hours. Useful when gauging the strength of relationships, less so when making dinner reservations.

5) Now that the military junta has been officially disbanded, the country is optimistically being led to democracy by Aung San Suu Kyi, finally freed from house arrest. The hope is that while allowing for much needed foreign investment, beautiful Myanmar keeps its traditions and landmarks. Resisting, for example, the temptation to surround the spectacular Schwedagon Pagoda (pictured above) with modern condos boasting a temple view.