54 million people live in Myanmar and 95% of the population are Buddhist which means most people have their own Buddha. There are Buddha images in Pagodas and temples, Buddhas in parks, on top of hills, in shops and anywhere else you can find space for one.
There are sitting, standing and lying Buddhas. Assuming one person has 2 Buddha images each that would put the current amount of Buddha images in Myanmar at 108 Million and I think we have seen most of them!
This should be no surprise to us – we knew we needed to take a tour across Myanmar and our guide Pure is doing a fantastic job of ticking the highlights off the list. We are staying in 5 star hotels and being led across the country with easy and trouble-free travel. But we are adventure motorcyclists and we left our comfortable country to explore the world for its soul and really get an insight into other people’s lives.
I am not a religious man and neither is Jimmy so we have no interest in Buddhism; what we are interested in is the people of Myanmar and how they live and interact and simply survive.
The best experience of Myanmar has been out on the road with the people – it is one of the reasons we love motorcycling so much. We get to see mother and father on small scooters holding their newborn babies without helmets enduring traffic of overloaded lorries, buses and cars. We see many people riding on roofs of buses and trucks ducking to avoid low branches and bridges, women walking with oversized dishes upon their heads to sell on the roadside, men riding old bikes with corn cooking on the rear by coals. Young boy Novice Monks walk in line accepting donated lunch along the roadside.
This is the real Myanmar. The women are shy and dress in traditional wear often blushing when making eye contact with us. The men are strong but gentle and they love our bikes; it is often the first thing that draws their attention.
Small children stare at us, older children wave from roadside stalls. We have seen small children working with their parents carting water in tanks, young ladies serving food and others herding cattle along a roadside. Hard men in ditches digging up concrete in thongs with bare hands. The land is barren and sections of the country seem almost unlivable – but life exists.
The people of Myanmar have had it tough over the years, war and military rule has restricted and stalled their prospects but their recent move to a democratic society has lifted the cloud from overhead and they’re smiling all over, working hard at whatever it takes to improve the country and life. This is why we are travelling across the land, we will cross the border into india in 2 days time free ourselves from a restricted tour and be away in search of more of the world in front of us.