Back to the Land of Smiles
I spent the first two weeks of February traveling around the country and passing out toothbrushes.
I am with my travel mate, Tony Cantor, and our guide and his family in Keng Dong, Eastern Shan State.
Now that the West has lifted the blockade, tourists are flowing into the country, the hotels have doubled
their prices and the roads in Yangon are packed with cars. The hill tribe villagers have even taken
to selling trinkets to the tourists, and refusing to allow their picture taken if you don't buy some-
thing. When I bribed them with a toothbrush, they were happy to smile for the camera.
Show Your Toothbrush
One little girl told me that in her village each family had only one toothbrush. I gave her some extra ones.
Our guide runs an English school. We put on a party at a local restaurant for his students. All of the
young ladies agreed to wear the dress of their tribe. They were quite proud.
I met this dentist in Keng Dong. When he went to dental school in Yangon 20 years ago it took one
week to travel there by bus and train. He charges $8 for a filling, and $80 for a crown.
St. Francis Xavier Convent
You will not find a much happier group than the 40 children who are taken care of by the nuns at
the St. Francis Xavier Convent in Kalaw, even though several of the kids are orphans.
Not a grain of rice was left on their plates. They invited me to dinner. It was quite good.
This is a school in the neighborhood. It doesn't take much to make these little kids happy.
With the Village Elders
Tony's long-time friend Tommy Aung Ezdani, second from the right, accompanied us for an excursion into
a village in the countryside.
You've Come A Long Way, Baby
Old habits die slowly.
Every young boy is expected to spend some time in a monastery. These two were not going to let their
studies interfere with their love of soccer.
Always amazing Myanmar.
Press the Back Button Now If You Have a Weak Stomach
Visit to a Leper Colony
Although their population is dwindling, there are still a few leper colonies in Myanmar.
The leper colony is run by the Catholic Church.
In the Facility
This woman was blind, could not walk and had lost her fingers. But
she could still smile, and was very happy to have visitors.
I couldn't understand what this man might have to smile about, but he did.
The wounds won't heal.
It must be agonizing to walk.
Even a Little One
I am not sure what her disease was or why she was in the leper colony, but it is so sad.