First, the people of Myanmar are super friendly, hardworking and very honest (lowest (reported) crime rate in SE Asia). The Burmese are somewhat shy, but I found if I smiled, they ALWAYS SMILED back.
The country is run by a military dictatorship, with promises of “ELECTIONS” in 2015. The history of Myanmar politics is too much for me to cover here. But to put the situation in perspective, Myanmar is ranked 171 out of 176 countries as most corrupt.
DEFORESTATION CAN BE DIRECTLY LINKED TO DECISIONS FROM WITHIN THE MILITARY
Most of the young backpackers I met said they loved Myanmar. So I asked them which parts they liked?: the deforested jungles? the open sewers? the sub-par highways? the rickety train? the constant smokey haze caused by cooking with wood? the garbage strewn everywhere? buses that arrrived at 4am to unknown towns? The fees you paid just to enter a town? The lack of accommodation? The continuous piles of burning trash, including plastics? Boy did I get a confused look.
I said in 20 years it will look the same, except maybe a few more 5 star hotels and louder vehicle horns.
With one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, the SOIL EROSION problem is critical. You could see the brown silt in the rivers. At current rates of erosion, they may not be able to grow enough food to feed themselves, within 10 years.
The young backpackers were on a more limited budget than me. So, I guess $2 food and $10 hotels were good. I view the world environmentally and Myanmar gets a big “F”.
I sat at the hotel one day and read 15 English versions of the MYANMAR TIMES. There was one story how top military and cabinet officials were taking classes on how to run a country, that’s how clueless they are. They REPORTED that only 1/3 of government initiatives were accomplished. Next time your un-happy with American politics (I am), just remember, it could be worse.
Due to the Food Insecurity and Poverty levels most Burmese experience, Opium production is up 13% in just the past year. When the British were here, Myanmar was the wealthiest SE Asian country, when the military took over it became the poorest country.
I still feel somewhat compelled to return and explore northern Myanmar and far south Myanmar. The Lonely Planet Guide book recommends avoiding places (hotels & tours) operated by the government. I feel the same way, until there are free and verifiable elections I’m recommending avoiding Myanmar. Yep, boycott Myanmar until the situation changes for the good of the common Burmese citizen and not just the rich. I’m only one person, but when people stop visiting and filling the coffers of the military, maybe they’ll get the message? Hopefully.
I didn’t gloss over the real problems of Myanmar, I felt compelled to tell the truth , from what I saw. There are many countries you can visit, that offer many activities, in an environment that still includes trees and wildlife!
Let’s end on a happy note
While visiting a Pagoda in Bago, I noticed these fires with something cooking above them and lots of activity. Upon further investigation I discover the making of a rice/coconut and peanut treats. It’s a full moon treat made at the monk monastery. I video taped it, WATCH IT HERE
Hey, HAVE A GREAT DAY!
NEXT? FIRST EVER VISIT TO CAMBODIA
2 thoughts on “FINAL THOUGHTS ON MYANMAR”
Glad that you blogged about Myanmar. A few things I like to suggest.
1. “The country is run by a military dictatorship, with promises of “ELECTIONS” in 2015”
There was two elections since 2008 constitution was adopted – 2010 General Election and 2012 By-election where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi came into parliament. Technically, country is not being run by a military dictatorship although most of the members of ruling party are ex-generals. 2015 Election is for “second” term of new parliament formed in 2010.
2.”Yep, boycott Myanmar until the situation changes for the good of the common Burmese citizen and not just the rich. I’m only one person, but when people stop visiting and filling the coffers of the military, maybe they’ll get the message? Hopefully.”
You could visit to Myanmar and still make money for average locals by avoiding military backed hotels and businesses. People would not stop visiting as long as there are opportunities for their profit. And just a personal opinion, the longer you wait to visit Myanmar, the more you are at risk of enjoying natural and a bit more relaxed Myanmar as it is being rapidly commercialized. I won’t use the term “being developed” as I assume these are two different things. But it would be very much like visiting Thailand in 20 years time.
Thanks for writing and clarifying the 2 previous”elections”. I don’t claim to know all the politics of Myanmar. I did link to the Wikipedia page that mentions the 2 previous elections. If Myanmar wasn’t still run by a military dictatorship I think you would see motorcycles in Yangon, just saying. It’s affordable transportation for lower income people. You are starting to see Toyota Land Cruisers everywhere, that’s who the “government” is catering to. I only write about what I saw and researched. The military governance has looted and left the country environmentally bankrupt. Bur again, that’s just what I think.
I appreciate your thoughts and insights, good luck.