Strike A Pose. Bagan, Myanmar (Birma)
Southeast Asia is extremely popular amongst backpackers. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are the usual suspects, but nowadays a plenitude of people is making their way to Myanmar, the largest country in South East Asia.
Despite the bountiful presence of natural resources, fertile lands and favorable weather for agriculture, Myanmar remains one of the poorest countries in this area. Among the ASEAN countries, it has the lowest life expectancy and the second-highest rate of infant and child mortality (Worldbank). Though its government has witnessed significant successes in alleviating poverty in the past few years with its economic reforms, there is still much room for further improvement.
Wandering through Myanmar has been a great experience for me. Unlike other countries in this area, this country remains “unmolested” and has not fallen victim to mass tourism (yet). Tourism is new to them and it felt as if they did not know how to behave when dealing with us tourists, imparting us with a somewhat submissive behavior. English is hardly spoken and therefore, properly communicating with them comes with challenges.
Nevertheless, the highlight of the trip was without a doubt the people of Myanmar. Without many possessions and oftentimes living in harsh circumstances, they were always very friendly and their positivity remained unimpaired.
This little girl on the photo, to me, is the ubiquitous symbol of the people in Myanmar. Far from operating candidly this time, this little girl blissfully reciprocated my smile and struck a pose. Verbal communication is not always possible, but everyone understands a smile.