The More Things Still Don’t Change….


Fifteen years ago, on our trip to Burma:

"First thing, I took a walk to the waterfront. It's just across Strand Road. I determined the ferry that just goes back and forth across the River Yangon and climbed on. Dark was creeping up.

The boat, "Autobus 1," had three bare bulbs overhead and a hundred eight-inch tall by six-inch wide wood seats that you grabbed and sat down low on, so I did. Pretty soon I was surrounded by three boys, maybe 17, 15 and eight. We didn't speak a common language, so we just sat and smoked. What the hell.

Maybe 150 people on board for an eight minute trip to the village across the way. When we chugged up to the far side Mr. Eight Year Old and a buddy gathered the little stools in a big pile for use by the next batch of passengers.

My other friends hopped off the boat and negotiated beers from a vendor who sat by the light of two candles on the dock. Directly across the river, line of sight from the downtown of the capital city of this country, there was no electricity. Just candles."

Howard French has been to Rangoon recently and from his reporting, it sounds like fifteen years later it's pretty much the same.

(Photo from the Burma Gallery at