Worlds worst place to backpack # 13

Myanmar - the golden land...

Flag of the Union of Myanmar (1974-present)

Burma or Myanmar call it what you will, it's home to one of the worlds most repressive and abusive regimes. Many countries don't recognise the regime that changed the name of the country from Burma to Myanmar but at the end of the day, we all know where we are talking about.

Mountain chains link their way up across the country, which is surprising quite a large land mass, the second largest country in South East Asia.

Myanmar <span class=

Some of its valleys are laden with rare gems and exquisite rocks and emeralds. 90% of the worlds rubies actually come from Burma. But you wont get your hands on one. A large proportion of the country is off limits to foreigners. Your movements are generally watched with suspicion, so remember to put the seat back down on the toilet.
Soldiers in Tia’<span class=
Officially known as The Republic Union of Myanmar, the country is a text book example of a police state. You can interact with the locals but they don't usually like to be seen mixing it up merrily with foreigners. It usually means them being dragged behind a wall after you move off.
So basically if you keep your mouth shut your entire journey, chances of you or one of the locals not getting hurt are considerably higher.

Flag and head band male

If you didn't read between the lines, Freedom of speech is more or less crushed. So if your taxi price is a fixed one. Don't haggle.

During world war 2, Burma was used and abused, sacked and abandoned. famous for all the wrong reasons, over 300,000 Burmese fled the destructing country to the jungles and mountains to India, just under 10% of them made it. Great books have been written about ‘The Trek’, I vividly recall the amazing story told by Colin McPhedran in the book White Butterflies..., I highly recommend the read, it was one of the worst but least documented refugee tragedies of World War II.

children to Danu ethnic village

The man who architect ed Burmas independence from the British and gave Burma a glimpse of a new future was the father of Aung San Suu Kyi......, Aung San. He got assassinated and things have been pretty grim ever since.

Although its independent, by no means is it a free country. since the coup of ’62, Burma has clenched up its butt cheeks and remained tight lipped. The analogy between arseholes and military rule is no mistake.

Free Burma!

Unfortunately they call the shots. The “junta’ will control your travels. Not only do you need a visa but you need permits and government appointed guides to visit a lot of other places. There is a civil war taking place, ethnic minorities who have been persecuted over the years have given birth to various insurgent groups.

An Afghan National Policeman looking out for insurgents

No slogging off the 'Military Junta' or disrespect anyone in uniform, or you might find yourself holed up in one of the many jails that are populated throughout the country. The sounds that reportedly come out of those prisons make the 'rustling of a plastic shopping bag at 4am in a packed hostel dormitory' sound like a piece of musical harmony.

The military is notorious for its rampant use of sexual violence as a means of control. So do what your told or you might get uhmm .............. hurt.

Last week, the jammy 'Junta' released Aung San Suu Kyi, she was under house arrest from roughly 1989 until last week. This is what happens if you speak too loudly in Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Burma forms part of the golden triangle of opium production. Conflicting reports as to who enjoys it but there is no surprising who controls it.

Burma - Old Lady with the cigar, another shoot from Bagan's countryside

There has always been a moral dilemma for travelers heading for Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi pleads with people not to support the ruling government and therefore not travel to Burma. A lot of western governments support her stance.

Free Burma - Sit - 04.10.07 -

But on the flip side, some locals do benefit from your presence, that's if you eat at local restaurants and guesthouses.

Sandwich lunch arriving in the banana house

Its not the Burmese people that will make your stay an unpleasant one, quite the opposite, backpackers who do venture here rave about the Burmese people, the landscapes and the culture.
On the Dhamma-yan-gyi Pahto

Make no doubt about it, its the military/police/government/w@nkers that make this the worlds worst place to backpack # 13.

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