Burma. Mysterious, untapped, different. Our dear friend and brother Moritz traveled 667 with his girlfriend Rut to this wonderful country. When we welcomed him back to Vienna, we listened to his stories with great interest. Today, two years and a cozy evening full of stories later, the memories of his trip finally made it onto this blog. There was one place that seemed to fascinate him in particular, because he kept coming back to it: Taungoo.
Moritz, how did you come across Taungoo in the first place? “In a forum I heard from Dr. Chan, who owns a guesthouse near Taungoo. The entry read so exciting that we decided to travel there. We didn’t even know if the guesthouse still existed or if Dr. Chan really exists. But we took the risk.”
“From Yangon, a bus took us to Taungoo – despite a burst tire. So five hours later we were standing in front of Dr. Chan and were initially quite relieved that the guesthouse even existed. And it looked lived in too. lucky! We were greeted by Dr. Chan and his family immediately received a warm welcome. This warmth of the people still makes Burma unique.”
“The view from our terrace of the rice fields, the breakfast and the food in general – we really felt very comfortable there. But the highlight, the real reason why we came here, was still waiting for us.”
Now we’re curious. What was the highlight? “The elephants. Three hours from Taungoo, away from civilization and in the middle of the forests of Burma, is an elephant work camp. Dozens of elephants help the locals chop wood. With their immense power, they can transport the heavy tree trunks. The inhabitants are therefore dependent on them.”
So the elephants are being held captive? “The nice thing about it is that there is a great bond between the carers and the elephants, almost a friendship. At noon, when the elephants have done their work, they are released into the jungle. So you can move freely. We were also told that it is devastating for both the elephants and the people when the other dies, which of course always happens. Not only does the caregiver mourn for “his” elephant, but the elephant also mourns when his caregiver dies. Of course, the elephants are sometimes treated roughly and driven with sticks. Nevertheless, I had the feeling that the animals are doing very well there because, unlike in the zoo, for example, they can stay in their natural habitat.”
And how are the elephants coming back from the jungle back? “Each elephant has its own wooden bell that is tied around its neck. Every bell sounds different. Early in the morning, the caregivers set out and look for “their” elephant in the jungle. You can recognize him from afar by the sound of the bell.”
It really sounds like there is a bond between humans and animals. Is there anything that you particularly remember from your trip? “It was great to see the elephants feed. They love tamarind. Tamarind is as sweet to elephants as it is to us. So they’re totally into it. And riding the elephants through the jungle was quite an experience too. It’s a shaky affair, sitting on the back of an elephant.”
Thank you, dear Moritz, for taking the time for us and our questions! We are also very happy that we can publish your photos on our blog.
Have you ever been to Burma/Myanmar and have experience with Made elephants?