Tom Vater

Tom Vater

Irreverent, informed and downright eclectic crime fiction and reportage from Southeast Asia and beyond

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Message from a Treacherous World

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I spent the day on the back of a motorbike today in Kayan State. Beautiful bucolic countryside, nice people, more Buddhas than you can shake a 1000 incense sticks at. There are even some backpackers here and there, gormless young people with selfie-sticks who enter temples in hot pants and seem oblivious to almost anything.

Especially the fact that the world’s longest running civil war rages 60 miles from here.

I drove past a quarry this afternoon. My driver told me that all the men working the rocks, mostly by hand, are prisoners from the local jail. They get called out during the rice harvest as well. Perhaps it’s better toiling in 40 degrees heat than rotting in a Burmese jail cell. Beautiful country. Nice people.

Especially the Buddhist monks who tell western journalists that Muslims shit all over the country, those same monks that are co-architects of a slow genocide unfolding a few hundred kilometers north from here in Rakhine state. The men at the mosque I visited yesterday tried hard not to look scared to death. Burma is sublime and grim.

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