IN AN AGE WHERE TRAVEL HAS SHRUNK OUR WORLD, WHERE OVERLY FAMILIAR
coffee chains and inexplicable fashion trends greet us around every corner, there’s always Burma. Shut-off, forbidden, mysterious Burma.
My first foray there was more than 20 years ago, during an age where all Toyota models were white and every one could be operated with the same key, which explained away the triple parking. Burma has changed a lot since then, and little at all. This month, writer Ron Gluckman and photographer
Jonathan Pozniak venture to the far west of the country (“Secret Kingdom,” page 66) to the largely forgotten outpost of Mrauk-U where pieces of the past are strung together only with the imagination of any traveler who visits. Diving into their latest journey reminds me of the Burma of two decades ago, though the tone could be that of a journey from an even earlier era. “I am looking for the people who have always been there,” wrote the intrepid Norman Lewis in the 1950s, after his visit to this remote corner of the world, “and belong to the places they live. The others I do not wish to see.”
Through the mist, amid a jungle clearing, of his trip Gluckman writes, those “others” weren’t too prominent: fewer than 5,000 foreigners set sight on mysterious Mrauk-U each year. For many of us today, that is reason enough to visit.