The Chindwin River in the Burmese-Indian border area

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es are the hours, is a Burmese saying, in which the feet keep still: The clouds stick in the sky, no breeze provides movement in the palm crowns, nothing stirs. Only the plume of a small fire rises vertically to the sky. Fishing boats are moored on the bank, a group of women are dozing in the shade of a huge jungle tree, and a herd of water buffalo lies immobile in a muddy pool. Even the big current seems immobile. Only now and then betrayed an implied whirlpool or a delicate rippling of the milk coffee brown water, that he is on the move – in which direction, can not be seen.

Even outside the hot tropical midday, life on the banks of the Chindwin is slowly and calmly dawning almost everywhere. Only tender feelers extend the twenty-first century to this part of Burma, where time has stopped fifty, one hundred, or two hundred years ago, and has not changed much since the days of Marco Polo. The small villages are made up of ruddy or tin-roofed houses, sometimes solidly constructed of precious teakwood and decorated with pretty ornaments. In the front gardens laundry hangs on a leash to dry, the domestic pigs sniff in the sandy soil, children splash in the water, zebu cattle graze on the shore, farmers plow their fields with oxen harnesses.

The belief in spirits is widespread

Fields of rice and cotton, beans, onions, peanuts, sesame seeds, betel nuts and banana trees stretch for miles around the villages. When the water level drops after the monsoon season, many embankments turn into fertile fields. It is a tropical green, lush agricultural land without monoculture, from the Palmyra palm trees and jungle trees stand out significantly. Hardly a European has entered this archaic landscape since the end of the colonial era. And indeed the time has been stopped here: For half a century, military governments have sealed Burma away from the outside world and its influences. Now, although the clock hands are turned in mighty cities like Rangoon and Mandalay with all the power, beyond that, the modern time measurement in many places does not yet seem to be invented.

Time passes by slowly: Burmese family of a local feudal lords, 1891.


There, people hold fast to their traditions. Even more than Buddhism, the belief in spirits is widespread. The spirits are responsible for everyday worries, Buddhism for the higher orders. Thirty-seven canonized ghosts and countless local ghosts are helpful or harmful in all imaginable situations. Therefore, they must be regularly provided with gifts and kept in a good mood, so are in front of many houses, the wooden sacrificial platforms.

. (tagsToTranslate) Marco Polo (t) Women (t) Ship (t) Buddha (t) Men (t) Chindwin (t) Burma

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