George Orwell gets a bad wrap in Myanmar.

His book: Burmese Days is banned by the government due to its unapologetically candid descriptions of the Burmese bureaucracy under British rule (can you say sloth?).

Before Myanmar’s political thaw began, possession of the book lead to jail time so I was shocked when a street vendor discreetly offered me a bootleg copy.

Surprisingly (or maybe not), in Mawlamyine, his maternal family’s home town and where Orwell served as an Imperial policeman, no one remembers the location of the Orwell family home.

The Thanlwin River cuts through the lazy town with beautiful sunsets and dusty, scrappy roads and inspired Rudyard Kipling’s poetic words in “Mandalay“: “By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea.”

A bicycle rickshaw driver wearing a traditional Burmese hat near the city’s central market
Muslim men often grow long beards, but trim or shave their upper lips, like this man above
A man with betel-nut stained lips wearing a traditional Burmese longyi, or skirt-like wrap
The covered pathway and staircase leading to a ridge overlooking Mawlamyine, where Buddhist temples command 360 views of the city
A gilded Buddha statue in the temple complex overlooking Mawlamyine


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