Traveling into Myanmar so shortly after the Government had changed the capital away from Yangon confronted me immediately with the new adjustments of this military controlled nation. The electricity in large parts of Yangon is cut most of the times so the new Capital Naypyitaw can be provided with electricity. Although I had seen all the News broadcasts about this political change, it quietly happened amongst all the world drama elsewhere and no news station honestly reported about the tragic neglect of Myanmar’s youth, laying starved on the street sides and begging uneducated through the miserly tourist visited center districts. Straight out of the airport where uniformed guys will try getting a “tip” one understands the dire situation inviting for corruption and unfair dealings. I traveled further to Mandalay the city of crafts and artists and again was humbled by the economic circumstances and the many kids with no hope of education, healthcare or a prosperous future. The many beautiful and old Temples become the only heaven for many to find rescue by committing themselves into a rigorous and stern lifestyle of a Monk. They are a valuable part of old Burma’s society and I am surprised about their well organized and groomed appearance. I steered up some quite unusual discussions with a few of them. Smiles
Within the first day I found myself picking up a hammer and trying out the labor intense preparation of gilding gold foils. It takes three years to prepare such precious material which is used to color the Temple domes and Buddha’s, not to compare with the “fake” gold used on the souvenir market products. I learned about snake skin production, stone sculpting and even squatted on the peanut fields with the farmers harvesting the delicious nuts. But the most memorable moments were spend with wood carvers, a dying out trade that has land fascinated me. The little village is build on poles because during monsoon season the whole area is flooded. I felt utterly strange disrupting their day but this visit clearly showed that I have nothing to complain about. Life is beautiful, and beauty is where we make it.
I will come back to Burma. It was to short of a trip to fully appreciate the people, the very healthy food served splendidly everywhere. I hugged sooo many kids, laughed a lot, and foremost seen so much talent and respect. Contrary to whatever the political struggles might be, People living in Myanmar are exemplarily friendly, caring and inviting. There was a sense of walking in past times, visiting a culture that existed in the past and I never felt unease or uncomfortable amongst them.
I will post a little video of my trip on here soon.
Back in Singapore I am cooking for Asia Channel TV a two episode promotion for red white & pure with Host Cheryl Fox. What a hoot to work with, professional and incredibly nice! Mark Pestana, the producer equally showedgreat interrest in cooking with TCM’s and it shows… I’l try getting us a link to the video clips.