The rest of the day is spent gently cruising down the river. While we are sitting idly on the sun deck watching the world go by, albeit it very slowly, we are left to ponder some of the things we have seen and learned so far in Burma:
1. A huge majority of the people are dressed in clothes which are falling apart, but are always comparatively clean.
2. Children have to wear a school uniform of a green longyi with a white shirt for both girls and boys. They also have to buy all their books, paper and pencils. Consequently many parents can’t afford to send their children to school.
3. Women do not wear wedding rings. Instead they wear their long shiny black hair pinned up if they are married, or hanging down their back if they are single. Presumably it is fairly easy to let your hair fall down accidentally.
4. Many towns away from the river have no water supply. Water is piped to a central collection point. The local villagers then have to collect it and take it to their villages. They use barrels placed on a cart and pulled by oxen to do this.
5. The landscape that is not farmed is full of bushes and trees that are all young and small. Trees taller than about 20 feet are a rarity, with the exception of palm trees. This is a direct result of the deforestation, especially of the teak trees. It is one of the worst countries in the world for deforestation.
6. At around 5 or 6 each evening the sky becomes full of smoke, sometimes becoming so thick that it makes you choke. This is because everyone burns their rubbish each evening.
7. Burma makes one of the best beers in the world – Myanmar Beer. It is really inexpensive, and on this ship it is free just like the soft drinks.
8. Burma also has a wine industry with a few vineyards. It is a young industry with a lot to learn. But when 90% of the population is Buddhists, and good Buddhists don’t drink, one has to wonder why they are bothering.