Indien, with its 1090 stuppas, is a wonderful place with a spiritual peacefulness that makes it feel quite special. The views of the surrounding countryside are lovely, and yet we are the only tourists there all afternoon. This leads to another long and frank discussion with our guide about the state of Myanmar. She explains how the poor people in Myanmar are not concerned with politics. Buddhists believe that what happens to them in this life is a direct result of what they did in their past life. If times are extremely hard in this life, they accept it. They do not blame the current regime for their misfortune. Our guide tells us that when the crackdown occurred she was actually traveling in the country, and she asked a woman she met, if she knew of what was happening in Yangon. The woman didn’t. And when the guide started to tell her that monks had been shot, the woman said “Don’t talk to me about politics, it doesn’t concern me”. It is only the educated who come to recognize the repercussions of the current regime’s behaviour. The regime therefore makes sure that the schools are poor, and education past elementary is expensive, thus insuring that the people remain uneducated, uncomplaining and uninterested. This is why most uprisings start with the educated.
She also tells us a fact that the Government does not want outsiders to know. The electricity for the country comes from one Hydro Electric Dam built at the end of Lake Inle by the Japanese in the early 60s. Over the years the level of the lake has dropped as village construction increases and silt builds up against the dam. This has severely impacted the output of the dam turbines. The entire country now only gets full power for 3 days a week, and for 6 hours a day on the other four days. All the major hotels and tourist restaurants have generators.
Another points she tells us is that the average Myanmar citizen, no matter how poor, donates around 40% of their earnings to the temples, thus showing how important religion is to them.
She also discusses the influence of the Chinese on her country. There are many Chinese in Myanmar , and particularly in this area, because of the closeness of the border. Rosa explains that the Chinese are very smart business people, and that all the businesses are owned by Chinese, while all the work is done by the Burmese. All the guides we have throughout our stay in Myanmar, are united in their dislike of the Chinese. Not only does China plunder the resources of Myanmar without a thought for the people, but a large proportion of the 300,000 tourists Burma gets each year are Chinese, and the guides say that the Chinese are rude and pushy tourists unwilling to pay much money for anything.