Come along for the journey!

Come along for the journey!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


The blonde haired goddess and her followers
Mandalay feels like a fairly big grubby Asian city without a massive amount to do. Perhaps that's just because we're in a stinking mood having been kept up half the night by monks chanting - we are in a hotel in a room with a view of a Pagoda where they've been going at it over a tannoy all night - that's some karma for the trekking incident! (See earlier post). It began as beautiful, almost lullaby-like singing, and as the night gave way to the small hours, the singing became more tired, less lullaby, and more of a dirge. Think Leonard Cohen, hung over, and in his brief 'bell ringing phase'. We asked the hotel when they stop, and the answer was "Never". Seriously, 24/7, all year! We changed room.

Here is a 1 minute taster of the chanting whilst it was still beautiful!

We went to see a comedy show by the infamous Moustache Brothers, a group of comedians who have been persecuted and imprisoned for satirising the Government. Putting up with some interrupted sleep seems pretty trivial when compared to what the Burmese have suffered over recent decades and still continue to struggle now.

It was a night of Civil rights stories, laughs, and random traditional dancing. The bulk of the laughs were derived from the host of the show demonstrating stock English colloquialisms like "Lubbly Jubbly". It was actually very Marx brothers: physical humour, jokes about wives and mother-in-laws, followed by fairly brazen attacks on the Government's corruption, lack of transparency and autocratic values. Their plight was even referenced in the film 'About a boy' when Hugh Grant takes offsets his hedonistic lifestyle with some tokenistic philanthropy at the Amnesty call centre - now THAT rings some bells! Anyway, back to our gap yar...


Lu Maw's wife - and butt of many old skool jokes

These guys are walking the walk - sentenced to prison and hard labour for their protest. Despite being a tad less sophisticated than Spitting Image, they are brave guys, prepared to do what comedy does best - get people thinking, challenge the status quo, and get some laughs. Things are definitely changing in Myanmar / Burma - the comedians prefer not to refer to their country by 'Myanmar' which was the Government sanctioned change to the pre-colonial name, but at least it's a sign of sovereignty because I still don't know what to think about calling it the British named 'Burma'.

Bring the government down!

Here's me getting all metaphoric on the theme

The only convenience store in the country - it's like a show piece

More powerful artistic subversion, yeah! It's deep.

When the country's main political opponent, Aung Sung Sui Kyi came to a show, and her photo laughing in the audience made the paper, the moustache brothers were not long after imprisoned, and Aung Sung was placed under house arrest.

I think it's going to take some more pain and sacrifice, and funny moustached blokes to change Burma...24/7. As a sign of solidarity with my hairy faced friends, or maybe just for a laugh, I'll call it Burma now.

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