The first face that greeted me at the Rangoon airport was that of our tour leader, Kyaw Zaya, whom we called “Chaw.” As it turned out, Chaw was one of the best guides I have ever had on a tour. He was extremely knowledgable and eager for us to learn and experience as much as we could in our 14 days with him. And he took advantage of impromptu opportunities to share the “real deals” of life in Burma with us. He was also very caring and patient, spoke excellent English, even used American slang, and had a wonderful sense of humor. We laughed a lot along the way.
The next face that we all recognized from all the US media coverage was that of Aung San Suu Kyi and Chaw filled us in on the history of Burma including the role of her father, Aung San, and her own efforts for a democratic Burma. The people of Burma are both optimistic and realistic about their future and accept that change will come gradually.
Aung San Suu Kyi is well respected by the Burmese people. She feels that change has to come from everyone, not just the government leaders. She feels that change will come when everyone takes individual responsibility and demonstrated that while we were there by encouraging the Burmese people to pick up trash as a first step. Here she is doing just that. (Photo credit: New York Times)
The people of Burma were very welcoming and we were greeted with lots of smiles.
The people of Burma welcomed us into their homes, their shops, their cities, and villages. Their hospitality was sincere. I will remember them fondly.
And here are my travel mates in front of the gates of Aung San Suu Kyi’s home where she lived under house arrest for 10 out of the last 18 years.