Reading about Burma on Ko Chang

Spent 10 days on Ko Chang off the Andaman coast near Ranong. (So this is not the big Ko Chang near Cambodia.) Very pleasant and little developed place: simple bungalows, nice quiet beaches and not too many people.

Read some books about Burma and didn’t do much else.

Burmese Days is George Orwell’s first novel, set in Kyauktada, modeled after Katha, a small town in Sagaing division in northern Burma, where Orwell serverd as a policeman for the Imperial Police. The imperial administration wasn’t doing too well according to the book.

Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin (a pseudonym) is a combination of travel writing and something like literary criticism: about life in Burma(‘s teashops), Orwell and how his experience in Burma shaped his views on totaliarism, and how the current SPDC military government is a prime example of what is described in his later Nineteen Eighty-Four. Interesting and well written.

From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo-Thwe is an autobiography of a Padaung tribesman who grows up happily in a small town in Kayah state,  studies in a seminary to become a priest but changes to major in English in Mandalay university, becomes a guerilla fighter after 8.8.88, and in the end graduates from Cambridge university. This one is really good too.

I felt i had to read something by Aung San Suu Kyi too so, i read the 1991 collection Freedom from fear. She is very good. 

Restless souls by Phil Thornthon is about Mae Sot and surrounding areas on the Thai-Burma border and the situation of the Karen, who (the Karen National Union) are among the last not to have signed a peace treaty with SPDC or some of it’s predessors. They have been fighting since 1949. In addition to very grimy descriptions of atrocities by the Tatmadaw and the life of refugees and migrant workers, it includes interviews with the late Bo Mya, and is a good reminder that not everyone agrees with Aung San Suu Kyi on Burmas future as one free country.

But all in all the situation in Burma is a very big mess. Starting tomorrow i’ll see for my self. Not quite sure if i’ll be able to write anything here during the next four weeks.

photos from Thursday, December 27th 2007
Ian a man in sunset sunset at ko chang (andaman coast)
photos from Sunday, December 23rd 2007
the view from my hammock black and white beach goods to ko chang goods to ko chang (andaman coast)
photos from Friday, December 21st 2007
sunset seen from my hammock

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