Hurrah! I have access to some decent (though still painfully slow) wifi again and have got wordpress going on my ipad so I can start to update the blog with my holiday adventures. I must be addicted, I was starting to miss it:)
My holiday started on 1 April in Yangon. A fitting day since it was also the first day of the new government and non-military rule in this country in 54 years! I moved from the boat where I had been staying for the British Council training to a cheaper guest house nearby and felt very relieved to finally have some time to myself. My first destination was Bogyoke, the huge central market of Yangon. I was badly in need of some retail therapy! At the market I saw endless stalls of rubies, diamonds, sapphires and jade, for which Myanmar is famous (and the profits from which the previous government has been illegally pocketing people told me):
And I liked the name of this stall in particular, reminding me of someone I missed very much:
I also managed to find a suitable outfit for sightseeing, light and cotton and sufficienrly ‘covering’, ie something resembling a pair of baggy pyjamas, which has proved perfect. I was wondering whether I would see any celebrations but all I saw was this poster on the corner of one of the market cafes:
Later on during my meanderings around the market I saw people adding another poster above it:
And soon there was a crowd gathered around, cheering and getting a photo of themselves taken in front of the posters.
To understand how amazing this is you need to remember that only a year ago such an action would probably have ended in torture and imprisonment. This is the fate that befell many students who took part in a student demonstration last year against government ‘reforms’ which restricted academic freedom. Around 90 are still in jail awaiting trial. Aung Sang Suu Kyi has promised to release all political prisoners but unfortunately she has no jurisdiction over these students as they have not yet been sentenced and therefore fall under ‘home rule’, which is still controlled by the military. Seeing if she can free these students will be a first test of her power. Here are some photos from a brilliant photo exhibition I saw about these protests which included a march from Mandalay to Yangon:
I really loved Yangon. It has a modern, urban feel to it which I’ve yet to find in Mandalay. I only had one day there this time but I’m certainly planning to return.
This was all for now. Next leg of the journey to follow soon.