Twilight Travels to Asia

December 17th, 2009 by

Thanks to New Moon, now we all know to be on the look-out for vampires in Italy. But on my recent vacation in Asia, I also found that those darn blood-suckers were everywhere!

My destination was Myanmar (a country in Southeast Asia that was formerly called Burma). To get there, I had to stop over in Thailand, and that’s where I had my first undead encounter of the trip — front and center in a bookstore at the Bangkok airport:

Vampires probably take red-eye flights.

Vampires probably take red-eye flights.

I already had plenty to read, so I didn’t buy the book. Plus, what I really wanted to do on the plane was sleep. By the time I finally made it to Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, I was about ready to lie down right there at the baggage claim and take a nap while I waited for my luggage. But then I ended up staying awake for another hour and a half after getting to the hotel. Guess why — because when I turned on the TV, I found Twilight playing! Like Bella, I just couldn’t resist Edward’s sparkly allure…

After that, I got a little break from Twilight mania as I traveled to some of the more rural areas of Myanmar (which I’ll tell you about in a separate blog post later). But once back in the city of Yangon at the end of my trip, I came across that hypnotic Cullen stare once again. This time, I was just walking down the street and spied this DVD, prominently displayed among bins of bootleg movies (btw, that’s Burmese writing unerneath where it says, “New Moon”):

Uh, didn't this movie just come out in theaters?

Uh, didn't this movie just come out in theaters?

I was totally tempted to buy the DVD, but of course that’s just as forbidden as Bella and Edward’s love, so I sadly left it behind and moved on.

But just a few steps away, I noticed these posters in the window of a bookstore:

One of these things is not like the other...

One of these things is not like the other...

Ack! I can’t escape! Of course, in America, it’s not unusual to be bombarded with Twilight. And I have definitely done my share of complaining about how Twilight fever is way out of control.

But you should understand that Myanmar is not a rich or democratic country like the U.S. Here’s a rundown on some basic info:

  • Myanmar is governed by a military dictatorship — that means the army controls everything, and they jail and sometimes use violence against those who don’t agree with them.
  • Medical care is hard to get. A lot of the time, people have to bring their own medicine to the hospital!
  • Many people don’t get an education beyond middle school level.
  • Myanmar is the poorest country in Southeast Asia.
  • Even in the capital city of Yangon, many homes are shared by big extended families. Not everyone has electricity, and even for those who do, the power is unreliable and goes out pretty often.
  • And the government controls all the newspapers, all the radio stations, and all access to the Internet — even if people can afford to go online at an internet cafe, they can only get to certain pre-approved websites, and the government reads all emails, even personal emails!

So regardless of how you feel about Twilight, even if you’re suffering from an overdose and don’t think you can take another minute of those pasty-skinned vampires, you have to admit: there’s something wonderful about the fact that Twilight is out there in a country like Myanmar.

If only everyone in Myanmar had the means to read the books and watch the movies — or at least make the choice for themselves — well, that would be even better…

— Karen

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