Saturday, February 13, 2010

Myanmar's Eve

Also Chinese New Year's Eve, and Valentine's Eve. Quite a conjunction of events, don't you say? And when Kiera and I finally arrive in the former capital city of Yangon, on the Irrawaddy Delta, we'll have missed their 'Union Day' celebrations by a mere two days. Supposedly some of the events will be ongoing. But that's getting ahead of the story.

Three flights--Nanjing to Guangzhou (formerly Canton), Guangzhou to Bangkok, Bangkok to Yangon (formerly Rangoon)--and two days are the cost of getting to Myanmar (former Burma). And what could be worth such costs? A country, isolated under a despised and despotic government, where magic realism is reality. This the guidebooks assure us. Boulders perch in peril upon holy peaks, encrusted in gold dust brought by countless pilgrims. A plain studded with over 4,000 temples, emerging from the fields in various states of dishabille. And, well, beaches. A beach without any sunburned tourists studding its modest brown sands or guzzling the juice of its blowsy palm trees. Myanmar is a good place to find such beaches. Kiera hasn't yet in her life met the ocean; I was introduced with its rough play at the age of three; I feel well able to make the necessary introductions. Most importantly, Myanmar has--so it is said--many kindly, curious people. Sanctions on the luxurious lifestyles of their military junta shouldn't be allowed to cut contact between the country's common people and the world.

So here's hoping for a good Chinese New Year and Valentine's spent in a remote and fascinating corner of the world. I'll let you know how it went.

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