Myanmar or Burma is a mystery for many tourists due to strict controls imposed by the ruling military faction. To go to Myanmar as a tourist is almost akin to visiting the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea. Bockino mentions that it was easier for some backpackers who may have been hanging out in Thailand or Cambodia with indefinite travel plans and lots of time on their hands. While true, that particular group seemed to always be under suspicion of trying to get to Myanmar’s poppy supply. I was not a backpacker but lived in Thailand for more than fifteen years. I had no desire to go what I perceived to be a hostile country as far as the military rulers were concerned.
With the return of Aung San Suu Kyi, things have changed; I am now interested in visiting Myanmar. I found Greetings From Myanmar by David Bockino interesting in its clear delineation of major historical events and periods. There were several new pieces of information (for me) that I found.
I did not know that the origin of the Padaung women’s wearing of the neck rings was unknown. It seems that this area would be a tourist attraction but Bockino mentions it is actually an addition to the traditional route of four sites visited.
I would not have guessed that a tourist attraction would be the Drug Elimination Museum in a country famous for poppies needed in drug production.
Bockino’s account of the abrupt relocation of the nation’s capital to Naypyidaw is very informative in its accounts of how much planning is really required to move an entire national capital. And why that capital does not need twenty lane highways or penguins.
On its surface, this book seems to be a balanced look at the development of Myanmar: the delays of the past due to historical considerations, the delays of today due to bureaucratic inefficiencies, and the separation of a people from a government that will dispense benefits only for factional political gain.
And if the reader does not agree, Bockino supplies a reference list so the reader may begin his/her own journey of discovery.