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tv   Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown  CNN  January 16, 2016 11:00pm-12:01am PST

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♪ chances are you haven't been to this place. chances are this is a place you've never seen. other than maybe blurry cell phone videos, old black-and-white newsreels from world war ii. chances are bad things were happening in the footage you saw. myanmar, after 50 years of nightmare, something unexpected
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is happening here, and it's pretty incredible. ♪ i took a walk through this beautiful world ♪ ♪ felt the cool rain on my shoulder ♪ ♪ found something good in this beautiful world ♪ ♪ i felt the rain getting colder ♪ ♪ sha, la, la, la, la ♪ sha, la, la, la, la, la ♪ sha, la, la, la, la, la ♪ sha, la, la, la, la, la, la in yangon, capital city of myanmar, it's dark. blackouts are frequent, with the ancient power grid.
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what sources of light there are in the street cast an eerie yellow-orange hue. for almost 100 years under british rule, this was rangoon. in 1948 after helping the british fight off the japanese and with a new taste for self-determination, the country gained independence. after a decade of instability, however, the military consolidated power and never let go. elections? they came and went. the results ignored, opposition punished, or silenced entirely. burma, now myanmar, where orwell had once served as a colonial policeman, where he had first grown to despise the apparatus of a colonial state, make more orwellian than even he could have imagined, a nation where even having an opinion could be dangerous.
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>> i am very honored to be here at this university and to be the first president of the united states of america to visit your country. >> morning in yangon. to nearly everyone's surprise, there have been some huge changes in recent months. >> the most difficult time in any transition is when we think that success is in sight. >> nobel prize-winning democracy champion aung san suu kyi, after nearly 15 years in house arrest, was released, now taking an active part in politics. with the doors opening, our crew and i are among the first to record what has been unseen for decades by most of the world. meanwhile, this southeast asian
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country of 80 million people is collectively holding its breath, waiting to see what's next, and will this loosening of government grip last? of course, morning in yangon has always been about tea. it's black indian-style tea, usually with a thick dollop of sweetened condensed milk. you want it sweet? less sweet? very sweet? strong? less strong? everybody's got a preference, everybody's got a preferred tea shop, where they know presumably how you like yours. >> i want less sweet and a bit strong. >> journalist and publisher uthiha saw. we meet at the seit taing kya tea shop. >> anything can happen in a tea shop. this place means a lot of things. not just a place for breakfast and snacks. >> for 50 years of paranoia and repression, teahouses were also the main forum for guarded and
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not so guarded discussions of the daily news, where you tried to piece together the real stories behind the ludicrously chopped and censored newspapers. carefully, of course, because informers and secret police were also heavily represented in these hotbeds of sedition and discontent. so given your profession, how have you managed to stay out of prison all these years? >> no. i was there. >> oh, really? >> two times. >> two times. >> once they called me and said, u thiha saw, would you come into the office and talk? >> right. >> so i went there and the talk last 89 days in the prison. there was this very serious control that came with the first government. scrutiny and registration. >> that doesn't sound good.
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>> take copies to that office and take a look at everything. take this out, take that out, or black this out or just take the whole story out. >> magazines that would come into the country, they'd cut out -- literally cut ow the pieces. >> people under this kind of tight censorship they will become i think more creative. take a look. careful reading. there is something between the lines. >> something you were accused of, sending secret messages? in the back, a call drone of salty fish bubble over hardwood coals. fingers work mountains of sweet bean, one of the fillings for the variety of pastries stuffed, shaped and put into an old stone oven. in another corner the heartening slap of fresh bread pressed against the clay wall of a tandoori, and of course eggs bob and spin in the magical hell broth of fish, spice, and herb. >> mohinga? this i must have. correct me if i'm wrong. if there's a national dish, a
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fundamental most beloved dish, would it be this? >> yes. take a look at all this. these are indian, these are chinese, et cetera, but then mohinga is a local thing. and it's popular not only in the city but in the rural areas too. it's fish based with some rice or noodles, sometimes we put in some crispies, like fried beans, so these are some core yand e..e coriander leaves. some limes. >> sprinkle some in here. mm. good textures. particularly in the light of obama's recent visit, these are interesting times. significant changes for the first time in 50 years. >> yeah. that's one thing that is quite significant. you take a look around, all kinds of people, all age groups. a couple years ago, people would be talking about politics, you -- you're toned down and whispering. but nowadays people are more
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outspoken. they also are relaxing the rules about censorship. august 20th we were called into the office, we meaning publishers and editors. and the director general, the boss, okay, 40 years and 20 days of censorship is gone. that's it. >> feel good? >> yeah. that's what we've been waiting for for so many years. >> i love the answer. it's a careful yes. >> yeah. first people within the country, we have some doubt about okay, is it real? the changes and the reforms? but as now it's about a couple of years. and now people started believing that okay, maybe it's real. the process is still very young, but it's still possible. when the generals stop and think okay, that's enough is enough, let's turn back and let's stop. i'm optimistic about the changes and the reforms. but we're still cautiously optimistic.
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>> in yangon motorbikes are outlawed. why is a matter of much rumor and speculation. so it's the bus for me. something seems almost out of sync. not too long ago even filming here officially as an open professional western film crew would have been unthinkable. in 2007 a japanese journalist was shot point-blank and killed filming a street demonstration. be seen talking to anybody with a camera and there would likely be a knock on your door in the middle of the night. yet so far confronted with our cameras, a few smiles and mostly indifference at worst, shocking considering how recently the government has started to relax its grip. >> we love to eat. and don't forget, for 50 years we were under two dictatorships
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and especially under socialism there were not a lot of things to do. cook and share food. >> this is ma thanegi, a famous and very controversial figure in public life. >> myanmar or burma? >> myanmar, because that's the original name since the 13th century. >> ma thanegi, like u thiha saw, has also spent time in prison. but on emerging after three years she became in the minds of many an apologist for the regime. fairly or not, i leave to others. >> sometimes you act as if it's only after the military junta went away that things have been -- frozen state like snow white. dead. >> but her many well-known books on the culinary traditions of myanmar make her a compelling advocate for burmese cuisine. >> you're very passionate about
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the cooking and the cuisine here. >> it's just that i like to eat and i eat like a pig. >> this is yangon's feel restaurant. >> i think the best of our food, i'm going to order a lot of salads you haven't had. it's good to be sort of a tasting thing. >> pig head salad with kaffir lime leaf. long bean salad with sesame and fish sauce. penny leaf salad. even this salad of indian style samosa. >> everything's out there at the same time. >> yes. >> no first court, second court. >> no, no, no, if i'm invited to a friend's house the table would be covered with dishes. >> right. >> covered. >> and it's really about the interaction between a lot of cultures, textures, and flavors in one dish or -- >> different. >> different. >> yeah. >> wow, i'm in love. that's good. >> yes. it is. >> and of course there's the maddeningly delicious condiments and pickles with which to make each dish your own. >> you make a lot of different combinations with each mouthful. >> ah.
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and this is something very confusing in general in this part of the world. everybody eats everything differently, very much to their taste. >> anything goes. >> anything goes. >> every mouthful, you can make as different as you want. ♪ my constipation and belly pain have my stomach feeling all knotted up. i've tried laxatives... but my symptoms keep returning. my constipation feels like a pile of bricks... that keeps coming back. linzess can help. once-daily linzess treats adults with ibs with constipation or chronic constipation. linzess is thought to help calm pain-sensing nerves and accelerate bowel movements. linzess helps you proactively manage your symptoms. do not give linzess to children under 6 and it should not be given to children 6 to 17. it may harm them. don't take linzess if you have a bowel blockage. get immediate help if you develop unusual or severe stomach pain especially with bloody or black stools. the most common side effect is diarrhea, sometimes severe.
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♪ credit cards accepted almost nowhere.
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cash machines? uh-uh. wi-fi? internet? rare. 3g, you've got to be kidding. if you need to exchange money here, only crisp, absolutely new $100 bills accepted. in myanmar it's another, older world. oh, and what's up with this? with all the kissing sounds. that smooching, kigs sound thss that you're hearing all over the place. my wife would have been in like ten fights so far. sorry, who are you smooching at? >> this is how you summon a waiter in myanmar. i know. i know. try that at hooters, and you would be rightly ejected. it takes some getting used to, for sure. melain is a big noisy seafood
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house where fish is prepared in the style of yakine, the coastal area to the west named for the people, one of over 135 distinct ethnic groups around here. >> now we're talking. prawn curry is one of those things everybody tells me you've got to eat here. prawns from the river in tomato curry. look at this. good sauce. that's good. that's some good stuff, my friends. we shall know them by the number of their dead. early morning in yangon. among the crush of commuters, shoppers, people trying to make a living, rise up the last remnants of empire. faded, often crumbling, but still there after all these years. these are the offices, businesses, and public buildings of the british colonials.
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the sofarer building was once one of the swankest department stores in rangoon. a century ago in kipling's poem when mandalay was beckoning the imaginations of a generation of young englishmen here you could buy fine egyptian cigarettes, french liqueurs. the floor tiles were shipped over from manchester. now people live here. a half century as a pariah state has left very few of these buildings in good repair. and there are divergent views on whether to preserve them. for many a reminder of colonial subjugation. for others a vestige of a golden time. ♪ these days in myanmar in the streets, on the docks, it's all about moving forward.
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in an economy ripe to explode if things continue trending in their current direction, the busy hustle and bustle of yangon's port appears even busier today as workers prepare for the oncoming holiday. >> hey, chef. how are you doing? >> it figures, doesn't it? >> it does. welcome to myanmar. >> philip lajaunie, owner and proprietor of my old restaurant les halles. >> it seems only natural that we'd be in burma, myanmar at the same time as me. >> back before anything, before i wrote the book that changed my life from broke-ass utility grade chef to whatever it is i am today, i'd never been to asia until this guy sent me to japan and got me hooked on a continent. >> there we go. >> oh, nice. chicken head, yeah. >> that is the perfect mood awakener. >> oh, yeah. >> philippe travels constantly. he's been bouncing around asia for decades.
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like all good travelers he's relentlessly curious and without fear or prejudice. >> it's fantastic. >> it makes perfect sense over cold brew and chicken necks in the port of yangon philippe is the one joining me to explore this particular moment in myanmar. >> that's the money tree. >> it is going to be a party. oonts, oonts, oonts. full moon party tonight. >> full moon party. that's right. >> what that means we have no idea. >> we don't know. there's only one way to find out, i suppose. ♪ >> it sounds like a party. >> it's crazy from now on. >> it's full moon day, a holiday marking the end of the rainy season. today marks the beginning of three days of break out the
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crazy. giant speakers compete for attention. everybody cheerfully oblivious to the distortion. cotton candy, trinkets, tube socks, just like a new york street fair, but with infinitely better food. >> are these the little birds? >> yeah. these guys are really good. was flying just a bit earlier this morning. >> it's the backbone of every street fair in the world, isn't it? deep fried food. >> that's right. and here they also have the little butter -- they break a quail egg in it. one shot. it's really good. that's it? all right. this is so tasty. much less greasy than i thought it would be. very delicate. >> anytime you tell me crispy little bird, i'm all over it. >> good head. good beak, too. >> good beak. >> crispy and tender. >> oh, and they have rides. check this out. okay. it's a ferris wheel, but the
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power source, not unusual for these parts, is not electric, it ain't gas. oh, man, are you kidding me? it's human power. >> you have to see it to believe it. >> an absolutely insanely dangerous closely choreographed process of first getting the giant, heavily laden wheel in motion and then getting it up to top speed and keeping it there. >> wow. look at this thing tilting out, too. >> that's the brake. three guys the other way. >> note to footwear, by the way. it's not just this one, every coming blocks bigger and bigger, ferris wheels, each one with its own troupe of acrobatic spinners. sure, going for a ride is tempting, but --
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>> cnn host implicated in death of four underaged carneys. the thing came oft hinges. the next thing you know it was rolling down the street and sending those kids flying. if i had any idea i never would have taken the ride, says bourdain. no, i don't think so. >> hard making a buck. but again and again they're loaded with smiling families, the team climbs aboard and the circus begins again. >> good luck. may you return to earth safely with all of your limbs intact. [ screams ]
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♪ next day in the full moon festival. whether you're looking out the window at a rural village or at the streets of yangon, what's happening is probably pretty similar, a tableau of dancing, body painting, car-mounted speakers blasting. but it's also three days of merit accruing. the practice of performing charitable or otherwise good works in the hopes of jacking up your karma. money trees are paraded around
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pinned with cash donations for months. free banquets and feasts are held. and many moments of spiritual reflection. the majority of people here practice tera vata buddhism, the oldest, most conservative form of the religion which, simply put, asserts that existence is pretty much a continuous cycle of suffering through birth, death and rebirth. >> noisy. >> very noisy. very noisy, yes. >> the morningstar teahouse where i've come, well, for a couple of reasons. reason one, the must-have bone deep old school favorite around here, la pet tuk. the salad of fermented tea leaves. i know. that does not sound good. but you'd be wrong to think that. take the fermented tea leaves,
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add cabbage, tomatoes and lots and lots of crunchy bits like toasted peanuts, season with lime and fish sauce. >> this is absolutely delicious. >> you like it? >> oh, yes. it's fantastic. >> yes, yes, fantastic. >> simple, delicious, things not to be taken for granted if you've been in and out of the joint like this guy, zarny bol. activist, astrologer, and three times convict. >> everyone i've met in this country has been in prison. >> this happens again and again for us in myanmar. >> almost six years? >> nearly six years. all the judgments are made by the kangaroo court and the army, and the three officers sitting together, they read off, this is your sentence. like that. it happens only minutes, like that. >> what is life like inside prison? >> nice, nice, very nice. >> i have a hard time believing that. >> very nice. we can talk to each other, say some things, and use a mirror to look each other. >> access to books? >> no book. no writing things. no paper.
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no, nothing at all. a mat and a blanket and a plate and a bowl. >> right. >> only things are the things that we possess. >> how is the food in prison? >> soup. pea soup. only one meat meal for a week. that's on thursday. you know that in prison all the fish has no body. only the head and the tail. no middle part. >> so there is hope for this country, in your view. yes? >> yes, yes. especially with the buddhists believe how to live in situations. dictators, political passions, or even discrimination. everything is happening to us. but the buddhists say okay, that's about past life. if you do something, next life will be good. >> there's something pretty cool about meeting people who have been for so long unable to
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speak now so unguarded about their hopes and their feelings. ♪ ♪ >> sizzling meats, the clink of beer glasses, ringing bicycle bells. this is yangon's 19th street. does yangon rock? can it rock? >> nine years, like a must-go place when you are in yangon. >> meet burmese punk rockers side effect, and lead singer darko. >> you can come here any time, there will be lots of people like here. >> so if you sit here long enough you'll see every
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musician in town? >> yeah, you can say that. >> the citywide curfews used to mean close your doors at 11:00. most restaurants close early still, but not here on 19th, where you can eat barbecue late into the night. >> wow. what do we have here? grilled tofu? >> yeah. this is pork tail. >> pork tail. this barbecue is awesome. >> these young men show exactly how determined you've got to be to rock, especially in burma. >> i like to say my early influence was nirvana. and then sex pistols the most and stuff like that. >> what american bands do you hate? >> creed. >> yes! they are like the worst band in the history of, like, the world. so what's it like having an indie band in myanmar? difficult?
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>> for sure, yeah. before you record a song, so like when you have the lyrics, you have to submit the lyrics, so they're going to censor it. they're going to check it. and even sometimes they will, you know, suggest you some words to change. >> oh, that must be funny. >> very funny, actually, you know. >> now, is that still the case? >> no, it's not like that anymore. they're not going to censor you, but it'sing go going to be kind of risky. because you don't know what's going to happen to you if you write and sing something wrong. >> so let me ask this. if all your dreams came true, where would you want to play? >> new york city. >> you want to go to new york city? >> that's my dream. we just need to be strong. that's what i keep telling my bandmates. come on. be strong. have faith. >> so i hope people reach out to you because making rock and roll is hard enough. truly independent rock and roll
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is even harder. and i'm guessing that making it here is harder still. so gentlemen, you deserve some success. people should hear you. >> yeah. ♪ ♪ (cell phone rings) where are you? well the squirrels are back in the attic. mom? your dad won't call an exterminator... can i call you back, mom? he says it's personal this time... if you're a mom, you call at the worst time. it's what you do. if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do. where are you? it's very loud there. are you taking a zumba class?
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♪ so you heard the sleeping call of the whale? >> the what? >> the sleeping car lost the whale. and the dining car. >> we lost the dining car.
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>> we lost the dining car. but even our original sleeping car lost a wheel. so we just have to hope for the best. >> the night express to bagan. 600 kilometers of what will turn out to be kidney-softening travel by rail. but bagan, myanmar's ancient capital, i've been told, is a must-see. >> the true old english experience. the engine is a french engine from the '70s. >> we've been told it's a somewhat uncomfortable ten-hour trip. >> so really the question on this end of the journey is come back on the train or flying coffin. >> mishaps on both burmese planes and trains are not, shall we say, unheard of. >> the widowmaker express. >> that is the choice. so that may be the signal to depart at some point. >> yeah. all aboard. whoa. we're moving.
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here we go. >> here we go. >> that's it. we have reached cruising speed. >> really? this is cruising speed? you could literally outrun this train. >> we could jog ahead and have a nice meal in some recommended restaurant. >> we could catch up with it. >> it's like the digestive walk. here we go. this is stop number one of 75. ♪ >> heading north, the scenery opens up. the space between things gets
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wider, more pastoral, and more beautiful. looking around at my fellow passengers, it could be hard to distinguish between the 135-plus ethnic groups that make up the burmese population. the very name burma refers actually to only one of these groups. what they all seem to have in common, however, is thanaka, a face paint and sun block made from tree bark that masks many of their faces. it's ubiquitous here. at first jarring to see, it quickly becomes something you get used to and take for granted.
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yangon's gravitational pull broken, and with darkness falling, the train picks up speed. at times terrifyingly so. >> this thing is going to be derail at some point. they have lost how many wheels yesterday? on this one train. so truly it's about being in the right car, the one that keeps its wheels. >> derailments or rail slips, as they are referred to here, a somewhat more benign-sounding occurrence than rolling off the tracks into the rice paddies, are not uncommon. one can't help wondering what the engineer and conductor are thinking as the train speeds heedlessly on faster and faster. >> it must be, what, 40, 50
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miles per hour at this point. >> i wonder if anyone has ever flown right out of their seat out the window. >> small people. >> sure. you don't want to be like holding a lapdog. >> or a baby or anything. >> try pissing in the bathroom and find yourself launched stight up into the ceiling. bringing to a rude conclusion what was already an omnidirectional experience. >> smooth now. it's very relaxing. >> what kind of beer did you have? i want the same. i'm like a big bear and he's my little cub. this little guy is non-stop. he's always hanging out with his friends. you've got to be prepared to sit at the edge of your seat and be ready to get up. there's no "deep couch sitting." definitely not good for my back. this is the part i really don't like right here. (doorbell) what's that?
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[ train rattling and creaking ] ♪ 1,000? done. now, this is breakfast. >> nearly 19 hours into our
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ten-hour trip and the night express to bagan lurches and bounces onward over old and poorly maintained tracks. >> could have flown back to new york for breakfast. i had time. what's in yours? >> arrowroot. >> i got potato in mind. >> how do you make good food pretty. look at this. a bouquet of fish. >> indeed. >> this is it. the plain of bagan. >> out the window, the modern world seems to fade away, then disappear altogether, like the last century never happened, or even the century before that. we're traveling across the largest mainland nation in southeast asia. but it should be pointed out that we are still within the
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confines of the tourist triangle. areas permissible for travel. whole sectors of this country, much of it in fact, are off limits. simply put, there is shit going on that they do not want you to see. a low-intensity conflict with the ethnic kachin tribe would be one of them. a wave of persecution and death in the thu kine state. the country may be opening up at its center, but all along the edges it's waging a desperate war to hang on to the status quo. needless to say, the status quo is not good. >> all right. bagan, here we come. ♪
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>> a thousand years ago bagan was the capital for a long line of ama kings. it's the sort of place where the old coexists with the even older. as elsewhere in this part of the world, in many of the buddhist temples here far older animist spirit-based beliefs co-exist with more recent buddhism. and in myanmar, worship of the gnats is wietspread. gnats as i understand it, are more like greek gods, former humans, demigods, spirits, often with very human qualities and failings. dance performances pay homage to the individual gnats, performers claiming to actually channel them, bringing about one hopes a beneficial spiritual possession.
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but i'm not just here for a nat pue. i have a list. things to eat in myanmar. this is one of them. chicken curry. and from roadside joints like this nestled among the temple ruins, you're more than likely to catch a very enticing whiff. >> just delicious. spicy, but not to the point you want to scream out for mercy, >> slow-simmered curry served with a side of sour soup made from rozelle leaves. with it you get fried ground chilies, pickled bean sprouts. you get the idea. >> these relishe, these dippy type things, these really interesting salads -- i'm not really a salad guy. the salads here are -- they're happening. spicy, salty, sour, savory. it's delicious. just delicious. a plethora of textures and flavors. this is a culture that's thought a lot about their food.
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♪ you'd expect this, an ancient city of nearly unparalleled size and beauty, to be overrun with tourists, souvenir shops, snack bars, tours on tape. but no. >> this is stunning. >> you'll encounter some western travellers at bagan's temple sites for sure but generally speaking they are a hearty bunch. even the bus tours here are not for the faint of heart or weak of spirit. but for the most part you are more likely to bump into a goat than a foreigner. >> this is so beautiful. so much like an ode to human
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you know, beliefs and adoration and worshiping and -- >> slave labor. >> and slave labor. >> i'm thinking, you build this many temples, thousands of them, in a relatively short period of time, chances are somebody was working for less than minimum wage. let's put it that way. >> for sure. wow. you could fly here. look at that. >> a millennia ago in a period of just under 250 years, over 4,000 structures like this were built here. they say that a bama king, anarata, began this project after a conversion to thera vata style buddhism. >> they started a new temple like every 14 days. >> over 3,000 pagodas, temples,
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and monasteries remain today. inside almost every one of them, a buddha figure, each one of them different. >> and i like how integrated it is with the frieze, postures. >> actually, funny you should mention that. people used to live here but the government came along in the '80s, i believe, and relocated them. it was a mass relocation project. so any homes, anything it was understood this is a good -- there are some tourist bucks here. they relocated the entire population. we're in one of the first mass waves of tourists. european tourists have been coming here in relatively small numbers for a long time, but the floodgates have certainly opened. they're building hotels like crazy around this area, what's called the tourist triangle. >> what is this here? this is a nice scarf. >> as myanmar begins its shift
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toward accommodating and increasing tourism and a service economy to go with it, there will be adjustments. there will be of course a down side. >> how much you pay? >> what's that going to mean? how will the burmese react to all of the good and evils that come with tourism? >> mister, what about you? >> perfect. >> excuse me. >> it's going to mean mobility. it's going to moan prosperity for some. it will mean a lot of bad things too. it will mean prostitution. it will mean hustling. >> okay. >> everybody tell it to you. you buy -- you don't buy -- but you don't buy. that's no fair. >> i don't need the post-cards. >> we're told kids are dropping out of school to do this. the double-edged sword of the service economy. >> you want postcard for only $5. one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
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>> what i'm amazed is how friendly and open people are with us. it's easy for me to say whatever i want about the government. we can go home. our lives will go on. we don't pay the price for that. everybody who helped us could very well pay that price. it should be pointed out that a lot of people did not. a lot of people were very nice to us but said look, i just -- i've already been in jail. you know, i really don't want to go back. it's a very real concern. what happens to the people we leave behind? one would think you can't -- once freedom -- they tasted freedom. well, you know, you can put the toothpaste back in the tube. you know, there's no doubt about that. >> but for the moment at least, things seem to be moving in the right direction, a country
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closed off to most for so long, sleeping, a 50-year nightmare for many of its citizens finally maybe waking up. to what? to what? time will tell. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com [ speaking in a foreign language ] ♪ ♪

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