14 January 2009

The Mustache Brothers

After saying on the last blog entry that Thursday's dinner at the
Chapati Stand was one of the strangest dining experiences, last night
with the Mustache Brothers was possibly the strangest evenings
entertainment ever. I'm really struggling to put into words to explain
the weirdness that we observed.

The Mustache Brothers are a kind of Burmese, traditional, vaudeville,
folk, dance, music, history, political, satire, comedy show. However
telling political jokes in Myanmar is quite a risky thing to do and
can often result with you ending up is jail. In 1996 two of the
brothers were sentenced to 7 years hard labour for telling jokes about
Myanmar's generals. The leader of the Moustace Brothers, Par Par Lay,
has been arrested and jailed 3 times for joke telling, the last time
as recently as 2007.

The Brothers are banned from public performances and now only do
"demonstrations" of performances for tourists in the front room of
their house. To keep things on a slightly surreal edge the show is
performed from a stage made of pallets with you feeling like the
police could burst in at any moment and whisk a Brother away. A very
strange evening indeed, but at least I now know how to make a
traditional hat and how to tie a longyi from a cubit of cloth!

Earlier in the day we again met up with our friend an tri-shaw driver
Zeze for a tour of some of Mandalay's other sights. First we saw a
couple more temples, the best one being Shwe In Bin Kyaung teak
monastery, before we headed into the "monk quarter" to see the marble
workshops where they carve countless Buddha and other images.

We finished the day at Mahamuni Paya which contains one of the most
sacred Buddha statues in the whole country. The Mahamuni Buddha image
is a 4m high bronze seated Buddha that was cast in the 1st century AD.
Over the years worshipers have applied gold leaf to it so that the
gold is now 15cm thick.

Today we were going to catch the ferry for a day trip to the ancient
city of Mingun, about an hour up the Ayeyarwady River from Mandalay.
It's also supposed to be a good opportunity to try and spot the
endangered Ayeyarwady river dolphins. However, our plans are on hold
at the moment as Liz has fallen ill with our first bout of "travelers
stomach". Must dash as I have nursing duties to attend to!

1 comment:

  1. The Moustache Brothers - sound like and edgy version of The Chuckle Brothers!!!! Glad you're still having fun and nice to see your tans are coming on well. Hope Liz is better!