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Burmese Days...1975 Trip Report - How Has It Changed?

Burmese Days...1975 Trip Report - How Has It Changed?

Old Jun 3rd, 2018, 02:59 PM
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Burmese Days...1975 Trip Report - How Has It Changed?

I once had the wonderful chance to spend a few weeks in Burma (name did not change till 1989 to Myamar) but in 1975! So I'm doing a delayed trip report! What I want to know is how things have changed in Burma since then than what I experienced - at that time Burma was a weird place - a place really back in time - I had traveled all thru Asia then for months but nothing was so backward and unique and memorable as Burma.

TBC
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Old Jun 3rd, 2018, 04:52 PM
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I've been to Burma three times, 2009, 2011 and 2015. Burma was still "time travel when I visited, though I'm sure not as much as your visit. Indeed, the country had changed significantly from 2009 to 2011 and even more by 2015. I will be interested in your observations from 1975.
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Old Jun 4th, 2018, 01:15 AM
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Nay Pyi Taw wasn't there in 1975, nor was that long straight highway that runs most of the way from Yangon to Mandalay. Travelling overland must have been very slow, but very interesting too.....a proper adventure.
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Old Jun 4th, 2018, 07:36 AM
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Took train Rangoon to Mandalay - slow train that took all night - very mobbed with folks seemingly carrying all their worldy belongings. Remember many young folks jumping out of train windows before stations to avoid paying fares I guess. Anyway see you soon!
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Old Jun 4th, 2018, 07:58 AM
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I was there in 2004 and really felt I was seeing SEA as it had been decades earlier. I am hesitant to go back because it sounds like it has changed so much. (Same problem as Luang Prabang only more so.)
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Old Jun 4th, 2018, 11:27 AM
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OK - I took a plane from Thailand to Rangoon - loading up with max allowance of booze and cigarettes as I was told by others to take to the YMCA in Rangoon and sell to middlemen there who would sell these black markets goods to locals who could not get them.

Was shocked to see how primitive Burma was - light bulbs that were dim and clear - street lights barely illuminating dusty streets.

Everyone dressed in non-western clothing - traditional Burmese skirts on guys and gals both.

Don't really remember that much of Rangoon but took third-world train to Mandalay where my most memorable part of my trip by far was about to unfold when I met the Trutwein clan - an about 18 yr-old Eugene Trutwein who took an interest in me and became my local tour guide and supplier of Afghani #2 hash! Burmese typically loaded #2 into the huge cigars men and women were often smoking.

After arriving by train in Mandaly I was accosted at the train station, as always, by locals offering cheap places to stay. He drove me to a semi-rural area where there was a small wooden hut I stayed in for several days.

Eugene brought several of his teen-aged friends along and at night we all sat in a circle at a traffic intersection where no cars came and they passed around a cigar laden with #2 - what a neat welcome to Mandalay my first night, Christmas Eve! Everything seemed kumbala and was.

NEXT THE TRUTWEIN CLAN'S CHRISTMAS DINNER.
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Old Jun 4th, 2018, 04:58 PM
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The "huge cigars" are cheroots. The trains have likely not changed ta all since you were there, as they were built by the Brits and have been minimally maintained by the locals.

Looking forward to more of your observations.
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Old Jun 12th, 2018, 01:55 PM
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Well after smoking all those loaded cheroots - loaded with some type of cannabis - my recollections are a bit hazy. But to end my belated trip report it were just before Christmas day when I arrived in Mandalay and met young 18s or so Eugene Trutwein who showed me around - recall slurping noodles at outdoor markets. And Christmas Day - not really celebrated in Burma but observed by the Trutwein clan who was Christian and left over from British colonial days - they had a huge old house on a large estate - and so Christmas 1975 on the road was a memorable and joyous occasion.

Then a few days later back on third-world train to Rangoon to fly to Calcutta - again Eugene and friends loaded me down with 'special' cheroots which I smoked on the train on the way back. Perhaps not the smartest thing but no one batted an eyelash as the cigar was overpowering.

So, those were my Burmese Days - the most backward country I have ever been in at that time - even Afghanistan which I took a bus thru was much more 'modern' though that term is relative.

Ca y'est!
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Old Jun 12th, 2018, 03:20 PM
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Pal, thanks for coming back to tell us more about that trip. Did you visit Bagan on your way back from Mandalay to Rangoon? I'd be interested in any other recollections you have of Burma in 1975.
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Old Jun 12th, 2018, 04:10 PM
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Sounds like the classic 70's trip, as in "If you remember the 70's, then you weren't really there."
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Old Jun 13th, 2018, 05:19 AM
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No did not visit Bagan - TMK on way back -could have i guess!

Oh the thing Trutweins wanted was someone to smuggle gems out of Burma for them - did not do but they mentioned a lot.

Yes 70s if you remember you were not really there - one highlight of that trip was inChiang Mai Thailand where we took a tour of the Golden Triangle villages and one night some of us went into local opium dealers place to lay on cots and smoke opium - most of that village was laying around in a stupor - only time I smoked opium and it wa surreal in that setting.

funny some villages where folks were hooked on opium yes most people were laying around - other villages where they did not were humming with industrial activities.

Ah those were the days myfriend I'd wished they'd never end.

That's about all my recollections of Burma.
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