Meeting People

I've met a lot of people in my five weeks of travelling. Bas, in Thailand, spent a couple hours teaching me Thai. The people on the bus to Taunggyi (particularly Aung Myo, mentioned in an earlier entry) were all kind. I toured Taunggyi guided by Shwe Yo, and in the company of Susanne and Heidi, both from Switzerland. I invited Martin (from Germany) to join the four of us for dinner that night. Martin will try pretty much anything once: if it walks, flies, or swims, he'll eat it. He says roast crickets are very tasty, and rather crunchy. He also says that chewing betel is a must - it's like drinking three beers at once (my take: about two beers). Anne Marie Power gave me an extensive introduction to Shan paper and balloon making at the festival (she's an artist with an interest in paper). I took a boat around Inle Lake in the company of two Israeli beekeepers and the deputy minister of Agriculture for Myanmar, also mentioned in a previous entry. I toured a couple of the ancient cities around Mandalay with Claus (from Denmark) and Calvin (from Singapore), both hardcore photographers carrying about 12 pounds each of gear. I reconnected with Susanne and Heidi to take a horse cart around Bagan.

In Myanmar, the commonest visitor nationalities seem to be French, German, Israeli, and Australian, pretty much in that order. This is very different than in Thailand, where Aussies dominate and the American presence is felt (practically nil here). When tourists talk to each other or to the locals, they do so in English whether that's their native language or not. There have been a few places in Myanmar where the French presence is so strongly felt (I noticed this in Bagan and Taunggyi) that some of the locals have opted to learn better French than English.