I’m backk! And I have pictures, thoughts, memories and political commentary to post!
First, I’m going to admit that I’ve had “God Bless the USA” stuck in my head for the past two+ weeks. Furthermore I’m going to confess that it’s specifically the version harmonized and sang (so beautifully) by Season Two’s American Idol contestants (hi, Clay Aiken).
I’m aware it’s not for everyone but “I’m PROUD to be an American where at least I know I’m freee.”
Anyways, I’m soo NOT a red-state, American-flag-waving, patriotic kind of person, but after traveling Burma I am all of a sudden flooded with gratitude to live in a country with working (and uncensored) internet access and a blog to express my thoughts and adequate health care and access to good public education and even less important things like Peanut M&M’s and J. Crew.
Burmese people are not as fortunate. At the risk of sounding dramatic, they are prisoners in their own country. People are mentally, physically and emotionally oppressed, the economy is poor, infrastructure is virtually nonexistent and bureaucracy kills ambition.
True, the country has seen some major positive changes in the past year, hence the restored diplomatic relations with the US and the fact that several people I met had Facebook accounts. But it’s still far from good.
What is good, though, is the people who live there. They are good good souls. They are innocent and kind and starved for interaction and connection with the outside world, especially in the more remote regions.
Traveling to Burma will inevitably put money into the government’s pocket and that’s upsetting. But it will also open dialogues, create opportunities and provide witnesses to the country’s suffering—all of which will, in time, weaken the government.
I think in five years there will be massive changes in the form of Hilton hotels and luxury spas and even McDonalds.
Until then, though, Burma is not a luxury destination or even a vacation—it’s an experience. One that I highly recommend.