On the road... in Myanmar

Cycling into Myanmar, the former Burma, was like taking a step back in time. Among the numerous motor scooters and tuk tuks are still many cyclists, as well as tractors, small and large trucks all spitting out huge clouds of black fumes and overloaded pick-up trucks. We cycled the old road from Myawady to Kawkareik, past houses made of wood, bamboo and large leaves to make for the roof. No sign of electricity cables. The road was magical with a beautiful sunset, but also adventurous, as we hadn't realized that the old road was twice as long and with more hills as the new road. The mountains were quite steep in many places, but fortunately the road was built with serpentines. Small temples and Buddha statues are scattered along the way, and of course many shrines. The people here use the mountain to sustain their livelihood. They have small gardens to grow vegetables and fruit, but also collect non timber products, clear parts of the forest by burning it and hunt the animals. Hence, wildlife is mostly absent and even birds are not very numerous. After sunset, when a lot of animals start to get active, we only heard an owl cooing in the distance. Of course the people here are very poor, but I could imagine more sustainable forms of agri-and silviculture could improve their livelihood and preserve the natural capital.