Back from Thailand and Burma
We spent two weeks in Burma (Myanmar) with a few days in Bangkok, Thailand. I have wanted to go to Burma since college. It was wonderful to be there. The pagodas, temples and Buddhas were amazing sights to see. It was interesting to be in a practicing Buddhist country. People there were very devout. Learned a little more about Buddhism and the practice. Saw monks and nuns. We went into the countryside and saw many people in their daily life (a very sustainable one- but we didn't see the poorest areas). We were in Burma at the perfect time. It will become more westernized (for good or ill) and we saw it as it has been for centuries. People were very friendly and hospitable. There is little crime in the villages, which they attribute to the practice of Buddhism and the influence of the monks. We got to see Aung San Sui Kyi (Burma's heroine)'s compound where she was under house arrest for so many years and where she know lives. Things have opened up a lot in Burma in the last two years. Its still tentative, but people talk more openly and lovingly about her as "The Lady." I am hopeful about Burma (Myanmar) but hope that it doen't become westernized in all the bad ways. We saw Burmese dancing, puppet shows and an elephant dance. It was very different than the usual Viking cruise. This was an old (1865) wooden river boat (refurbished) and we got stuck on two sand dunes for periods of time. But it was all part of the adventure. The sights and people were beyond wonderful. What a privilage to be there.