“You see, my government is crazy”
“Why?” I hope finally this time around, in the peaceful setting of the middle of a lake, without anybody hearing us, I’ll be enlightened by the conversation I’ve been waiting for three weeks to happen.“Because they open up the borders, than they close it, open up again…. makes no sense at all. The tourists are left out, so we don’t earn any money. Sometimes I don’t work for 2 or 3 months at a time, and that’s terrible for me and my family.”
“Yes, I see, I’m very sorry for that”
“Man, in Thailand, Cambodia, everybody goes in and out, as they like. So they are richer than us Burmese, the economy rolls. But our government, is like a big baby, a big crybaby”
He finishes his speech as the cigarette butt exhales its last fumes. No enlightenment today, as well, but it’s good to be hearing this.
If on one side I agree with this man, on the other side I am a little bit jealous of the intimacy and uniqueness of this moment, and I don’t agree with him. I have a sudden flash and I look around me foreseeing hordes of English pricks with girlfriends floating on thousands of speedboats around us, in a totally inappropriate frame, noisy, destroying the peacefulness of the lake, like this was any island of Thailand, and I get goose bumps. I understand tourism might help these people develop, but at the same time, I feel jealous of me being here in this moment, floating over time and space, when the time wheel has definitely spun around 50 years back and we are stuck in the Middle Ages, for what concerns me, in this exciting moment. And I wish instead the situation would stay the same, for me, and a few enlightened others, to enjoy. Then I abandon this idea and I just think, as always, whatever will be, will be.
I look around and the fishermen are always playful, just joined by another boat with two floating teenagers on it… they also love to be immortalized by Kit Yeng’s pervert plastic eye. She’s tame enough to jump on their boat, get a row and paddle around a bit, drowned in general laughter and enjoyment.
This was a very special day, and when we head back, engine on and raging over the lake, those two young boys are rowing as fast as they can to keep up and wave us goodbye, and I can swear that boat has legs, and they are running along the lake surface, dribbling giant mangroves and scaring the scarce fish population off.
They are running for their lives, and we both know it, while the last hand waves us goodbye, and our canoe speeds rolling on the side, like a time machine, taking us a few years back to the future of Nyaungshwe and its busy street cafes. Some moments are impossible to forget.