welcome to the ancient land of Myanmar the country the world once called Burma it's an isolated Buddhist society that's resisted rapid change for almost 2,000 years here the people live as they have done for centuries following a spiritual path seeking modesty respect for elders and beauty and all things the essence of their national spirit the people here call mamasan chin little is known about this isolated country in the outside world but that could soon change thanks to the legendary Burma Road work has begun to rebuild the famous highway and connect Miami to the 21st century and if the connection is managed with care Myanmar's isolation will give way to a new place in the international community and a new future for these children this is the story of how this stretch of Burma Road being rebuilt by hand could help take an almost medieval society into the future when it's finished it'll pass through some of the great untouched wilderness areas still left in Asia a giant Nature Reserve one of the largest on earth massive rivers still free of destructive pollution if this road is managed carefully mine mark will avoid the environmental and social disasters which have followed the arrival of Western culture throughout history but it all depends on what happens here along the Burma Road today my ma is a country caught between powerful nations which follow their own agendas for their own political and commercial advantage to the west lies india to the east lies china the fastest-growing economies in the world today myanmar is the most direct route between West and East only a few hundred kilometers separates them but today it's remote valleys are a hindrance to trade worth billions every year [Applause] this muddy remnant of the legendary Burma Road meandering through my Mars remote northern jungles is the key to a radical new chapter in this country's history there are plans to turn it into a highway to connect China and India to a concrete artery stretching all the way to Europe it'll cut straight through northern Myanmar and two worlds will collide this is one of them China in the 21st century ambitious commercial and voracious and just 200 kilometers away there's the other northern Miami an almost medieval Society and surrounding it this unpolluted virtually undamaged wilderness when the modern world and the wilderness collide the effect will be profound at this pace the new Burma Road will be a long time coming but the government of Myanmar is in no hurry to speed up the process the economic benefit of controlling a lifeline between India and China is obvious but what about the effect on a culture where most things are still done by hand and how much will it cost to protect this vast wilderness which is the natural heart of northern Myanmar the Burma Road begins beyond my Amar's borders in a remote corner of northeastern India known as a run Shan Pradesh here more than 60 years ago young men barely in their 20s came from China India the US and Europe to fight against the Japanese they fought and died on a muddy track they carved from the living jungle [Applause] these gravestones buried in the remote jungles of northeastern India are all that mark their passing this is just one graveyard many others lie undiscovered in the deep jungle a generation lost while they ghosts flicker on film the black and white memory of war with incredible loss of life the plan succeeded but as soon as the job was done the road was abandoned and the wilderness reclaimed its own today the tanks and transports are not even a distant memory this wilderness is home to tribal people the mish me tanks are cinco and the camp team all have relied for centuries on the wealth of the forests for their livelihood they were certainly here long before the invention of nations called India or Miami these remote jungle valleys teeming with wildlife have always sustained the tribal people here the modern notion of conservation and sustainability is a natural way of life but ironically that natural way of life has been the cause of constant violence along this remote border with India for India's legendary Assam Rifles it's a struggle to contain cross-border insurgents who want an independent country of their own the tribes believe they have the right to hunt and trade through their traditional lands to them the border and the governments on each side are meaningless but the sporadic fighting and killing means economic disaster for Captain Rajiv Singh the hope is that a new Burma Road connecting India and China will stabilize these remote valleys with this road coming up now it's a boon not only for the people of Arunachal Pradesh or the people of Myanmar it is a boon for us also and this would lead to the prosperity of the people of the area with the aim of bringing peace to the area and if the new Burma Road does bring new prosperity it could help tribes here on the Indian side of the border avoid a major environmental crisis one of their few reliable sources of income comes from illegal opium pockets so they're destroying hundreds of hectares of pristine rainforest to plant new fields we feel bad about cutting the trees because we all depend on the jungles for hunting and for firewood and for making our homes but to get more money we need the fields for growing poppies and when the destruction is over these innocent looking plants arise out of the wreckage to cause fresh conflict between the tribes and the Indian government Myanmar has virtually wiped out opium cultivation in its northwest border areas but here in India the authorities still struggle with eradication [Applause] opium brings cash to hundreds of villages like this and with it the devastating problem of addiction the people are anxious to remove opium from their lives the destructive effect across the generations is obvious it's bad for everyone from grandfather to grandson but is the new Burma Road the answer will it bring jobs and prosperity or will it bring the logging industry to destroy this forest even faster than opium cultivation in the remote villages they want the new road because it will open their forest values to the outside world they know good money can be made from tourism all they need is a paying audience one single backpacker from the West spending just $50 for a few nights could feed a family for two weeks but it will take more than a remote mud track to get foreign travelers here [Applause] this is the Burma Road linking India and China today [Applause] in the wet season it's impossible for the rest of the year it's an effective barrier to tourism and trade in the coming months the Indians will pave this road all the way to the top of the paths then it will be up to the Burmese to meet them from the other side but when so far the maíam our government had won't say today the border is permanently closed to outsiders there is no way to cross unless you're a minister from the Aaron cheol Pradesh government today the bank suppes expedition is to bring the issue being Burma Road into the limelight so that the people reported people in both the countries make a decision to open up this Burma Road very soon minister san tong sena is a tireless champion of the new road he sees it as a source of economic salvation for the remote Indian province he governs for just a few hours the border has been opened and the troops waive the minister's convoying through he's here today on a public relations tool in the hope that this small journey will lead to a giant step between Burma and India [Applause] [Applause] this village is only 8 kilometers from India it's the gateway to this vast wilderness the minister does his best to talk up the new road but with no sign of any mime are government officials he's speaking mostly to his own team the future for Nigel for this the you know we are surrounded by international borders and if this road is open the suffocation or the you know the blockade the bottleneck will open but that can't happen until the Mayan Marc government agrees and so far its intention is remain a mystery but despite the silence progress is happening on the new road although it's slow progress indeed beyond the wilderness of Pankow the muddy track drops out of the mountains into northern Myanmar where work continues on the new Burma Road working with the most basic of equipment these imported Chinese workers are expected to complete a project stretching more than a thousand kilometres they'll have to cross one of Asia's greatest rivers the Irrawaddy and countless secondary streams every monsoon they turn to destructive torrents this bridge was wrecked during the last wet season but in the future semi trailers and tourist buses could be rattling across this old bridge every day and it will give outsiders access to northern my Mars greatest living treasure one of the largest wildlife preserves on earth here the road enters the who kong valley a vast tiger reserve at 21,000 750 square kilometers it's almost as large as the state of massachusetts and larger than all india's tiger parks put together [Applause] it's teeming with wildlife most of it rarely seen only remote camera traps set far from human habitation reveal the richness of life here this huge wilderness includes many small villages and several competing tribes of forest hunters the lisu people part of the Kachin tribe consider this territory their own they hunters they have done for centuries armed with flintlock muskets and their instinctive understanding of the forest this men are using animism or nature worship to divine the intention of the animals they want to hunt this way they can tell which animals are ready to die and which animals would prefer to live another day Tigers are their main quarry the Chinese on my Mars eastern border still crave Tiger parts as medicine it's a tradition that goes back thousands of years the prices the Chinese pay are enormous powdered Tiger bone sells for $1,500 u.s. per pound more than six months income for these men like all the competing tribes here the Lee soos hunger for income makes them virtual outlaws on their own land the penalty for poaching Tigers is high long prison sentences wait for them if they're caught nobody knows how many Tigers are alive today but they are alive and the new Burma Road could lead directly to an increase in their numbers the government of my amar wants Tigers living and breeding in these forests the potential they have to attract the foreign tourists dollar is enormous and this road being laborious ly built through the heart of the reserve is clearly the best way to get the tourists here but in the meantime this is the most efficient way to move through the park armed Rangers conduct long elephant patrols through the trackless jungles in search at the trial of poachers but with only a few Rangers and elephants finding a poacher let alone a tiger is next to impossible this is Ranger chung krishna if the Tigers are wiped out by the lease sue and the other forest dwellers the park will lose much of its purpose so as far as he's concerned the sooner the new Burma Road gets here the better when it rains traveling is difficult because of the numerous ditches and creeks everywhere and they also make it difficult to send in and receive reports I've never met a tiger never been successful with camera traps we only get reports from the people who have seen them I have never seen a tiger myself [Applause] there's no doubt that the Lisu and the other forest tribes are threatening the future of the Tigers that remain in this huge reserve but what's more important survival of the tiger or the survival of the Lisa – the Lisu hunters there's no question today they have no incentive to conserve the tiger or the jungles they know so well if income came from tourism it might be a different story instead of tracking for the kill the lisu could be guiding foreign tourists with digital cameras it works well in the giant game reserves in Africa former poachers make the best Rangers and tourist guides if it works in Africa why not in northern Miami less than a day's journey from the park there's another of the natural wonders of northern Myanmar this is where the rivers flow out of the mountains to form one of Asia's great waterways the Irrawaddy alluvial gold has washed down this river for millennia the amount of gold this sand contains is minut the only way to find it is to wash it out like this to collect the tiny specks of gold the people add mercury to their pans the mercury attracts the gold forming an alloy amalgam the sand is washed away and after hours of labor they're left with this a tiny lump of gold bound by mercury the problem is that the excess mercury washes into the river and this is the result the mercury poisons fish and sometimes the people who feed on them all the way downstream it's clearly a problem but so far it's a long way from a major environmental disaster and if alluvial mining is carefully controlled there's no reason why it should become a disaster in the future [Applause] and what of the material reward well for young July its enormous with gold selling at around six hundred US dollars an ounce this is enough to buy food and clothing for his family for more than two months in the long term the my my government will have to decide if it wants revenue from gold or revenue from a pristine river system a few hours drive to the east the Irrawaddy becomes the river of life for millions living along its banks and this man and many like him are an important key to what happens to this undamaged environment in the future balangan is the head buddhist monk of a village on the new Burma Road and his concerns about what will happen to the river and the wilderness it supports are both simple and profound Allah there will of course be changes due to the opening of the routes these will include changes in the ideas opinions and views of the people I hold that people in the old days notwithstanding what others may say about the low standard of living but the people in former days suffered less from greed and anger and therefore enjoy peace of mind balangan is a natural conservationist he wants to preserve the old ways from a simpler time so walking with him is like walking into the heart of a past still undamaged by modern industry like the footsteps of the Buddha himself the pace here is still natural and restrained just as it has been for almost 2,000 years the 21st century and the new Burma Road is part of another universe far away when I listen to the news it seems at times there are problems in every part of the world I have learned that the principal characteristic of the world today is the absence of peace when I hear these things I wish for peace not only for my country but for the whole world as well so two monks all over mama this is what's important the proper philosophical and social education of the next generation Bellingen is a tireless conservationist protecting his young charges from the polluting effect of greed when these children truly understand the principles of Buddhism the hope is that they'll have the inner strength to manage the changes the new Burma Road and its semi-trailers might bring and most of that strength comes from community one of the village elders has died and everyone contributes to preparing food to honor his passing the villagers prepare a sweet concoction of palm sugar sago for the celebration many small villages like this have a permanent monastery and several months the cohesion they bring to the communities under their care is enormous the villagers wait anxiously for the monks to eat if they enjoy the meal it will be an auspicious event for the whole village by showing charity to the monks the villagers show their humility and generosity of spirit both important steps on the road to enlightenment now it's the villagers turn this is village life as it has been for over 2,000 years [Applause] but just a few kilometers away the stone and concrete artery connecting Miami with the teeming cities of China India and Europe creeps ever closer the ancient ways of sustainable living still dominated life along the river a [Applause] new house is needed so everyone contributes using little more than bamboo and grass collected from the forest the people build a new house in ours add the reed roof and it's finished it's a stunning contrast to the same process in the industrial world the challenge for the people of Myanmar is to hold on to their sustainable ways and still give their children the economic advantages a new Burma Road could bring [Applause] the problem is that a new road will ensure easy access to the vast reserve of valuable natural resources [Applause] and today one of the easiest most profitable ways to access ready cash is by selling timber we're now a hundred kilometers east of the Irrawaddy not far from the Chinese border these teak forests are high on the Chinese radar with his own forest savagely depleted due to thousands of years of logging the Chinese are now desperate for wood the Chinese government banned logging in their own country in 1998 because of severe environmental damage so now they look beyond their borders to countries like Miami to buy up all the legally fell timber they can get but unscrupulous loggers are ready to supply the insatiable global appetite for timber they pay for a legal clear felling and this is the result profitable devastation this is how forests have been cleared in Miami for centuries and this is how they could still be cleared today elephant power is slow but it works elephants are low-impact they don't need roads and remove selected timber without scarring the forest today the Asian elephant is in crisis because there's not enough traditional work like this the villagers can't afford to feed them so they're abandoned and returned to the semi wild where they cause terrible damage to agriculture many of these intelligent animals are shot or poisoned as a result but this could be an alternative imagine elephant power like this on a grand scale hundreds of elephants harvesting timber in a sustainable way could it be that this new road between India and China is the same road that brings elephants from neighboring India and Thailand to work safely in the teak forests of Myanmar the alternative to a sustainable future lies on the other side of this bridge where the Burma Road crosses into China welcome to the 21st century that it's most consumptive and powerful the difference between life on these streets and life in the countryside a few kilometers away in northern my mark is extraordinary this small border town of Musa contains everything that 21st century has to offer but it pales in significance when compared to Kunming on the geographic land at the original Burma Road only five or six hours drive further east capital of China's Yunnan Province it's home to eight million people about a fifth of my Amar's entire population the new Burma Road will clearly open the floodgates to the Chinese but does it have to damage this gentle Buddhist society perhaps there is another path just a few hours journey from the border lies the mystical plane of Buddhist shrines and temples known as began it's a symbolic doorway to the unpolluted rivers an undamaged wilderness of a country moving at a very different pace to China Buddhism is still the most powerful social force at work in Myanmar it's more than a philosophy or a religion it's a practical way of living for these brilliant artisans it provides enlightened income this is mass production at a Buddhist pace and this practical Buddhist lifestyle could be my Mars greatest protection against destructive change that will pour into the country along the new Burma Road yeah the plane at began already attracts foreign tourists in their thousands but access is carefully limited and tourist numbers are carefully controlled they bring in valuable hard currency but in a low-impact way that preserves this ancient environment it works here so could carefully controlled economic development work right along the new Burma Road [Applause] all levels of my amar society from the ordinary workers to the most powerful political figures believe this is where the true spirit of their country lies this is the great golden pagoda of shwedagon it's said that hair from the Buddha's head is buried beneath these acres of God for almost 90 percent of the population this is a place of pilgrimage for every devout person in Miami the great pagoda is the embodiment of their heart their bombers and chin so for the people of Miami the golden pagoda is their greatest treasure but it will take political will and perhaps help from the outside world to make sure the new Burma Road doesn't lead to the destruction of a treasure even more valuable if it's managed properly this new road could help provide a strong economic future without damaging one of the last great natural wilderness areas in Asia the new Burma Road could open up Miami to sustainable economic development and bringing international aid to help protect Asia's last great river system that's still running clear and pollution-free it could bring thousands of carefully guarded tourists to the last great teak forests of Asia and to the giant game reserve where Tigers and countless other endangered species still roam it could give access to international wildlife agencies willing to spend millions to help my mom protect its natural wealth a road is just a road but it could also be a pathway to a secure and sustainable future for a new generation

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. That country will be ravaged by China and anyone else who gets a foothold there. Illegal logging, various drug manufacturing and all the joy their neighbors are going through. But they are being left behind so???

  2. The road will allow China to have multiple ports and easy access to sell goods to Africa, Europe, India, and cheap natural resources. The Myanmar government's officials will fill their pockets and lead its country into heavy debts with the Chinese. Welcome to the Chinese's slave club.

  3. Why do you think that a culture based mainly on a hardworking women is a happy state? A lot of primitive cultures are “happy “only for the tourists who are looking on people as an curiosity.

  4. This seems to be an old video. Well, the Chinese side seems to be at least 10-15 years into the past. See those FOLDABLE OLD PHONES. NO SIGN OF VIVO, OPPO OR XIAOME MOBILES.

  5. Myanmar government & arunchal state government should help their own people to have better living standards & educate them about harmful things & benefit of these natural world & good environment to own country.

  6. Wow , an enormous bowl of snot in his memory , I would be like "has anyone seen that floating fish in the last few mins".

  7. It will just destroy their happy culture and turn them into debt-wage slaves like the rest of the West. It'll be run by the same psychos that run the West/Westernized countries.

  8. Good intention! Bad narative and execution of the intention. Let us pray that both China and India awaken to the real problems of their cultures and resolve those problems in an enlightened and responsible way!

  9. the comments are so condescending..the burmese deserve all the creature comforts we enjoy. who are we to say they shouldn't have air conditioning and chanel?

  10. If you would like to know what Myanmar will be like in 20 years, all you have to do is look at Thailand today.

  11. I am fairly sure that when they finally see get this documentary, about two dozen or so Myanmar face painters and their customers will Like this video.

  12. So sad to destroy one of the last vestiges of pure humanity. But once they have it in their sights it has no hope, it will be ruined and its people destroyed. Is nothing sacred or worth preserving any more.

  13. Why can't they fly and leave these people alone. Haven't enough countries been prostituted for the greedy west. Is nothing sacred, are no people to be left uncorrupted in their desire to own all. This is such a crime against a people who will be annihilated just like so many more in the past. Will no one tell them what they are getting themselves into. They will take their lands and their culture and leave only devastation behind. Tell them that their desire for a richer life will leave them with less than they already have which is a good life rich in the history of their forefathers, independent of the bankers and users of this world. Of course the government have been paid off to sell out their country and their people. They need to live off the land as they always did and not let any outsiders into their country. They need a true leader who is incorruptible.

  14. These people look healthy and content in their lifestyle, why would their need $50 from a western backpecker?

  15. It is such a shame that the narrator still pronounce the name "My An Mar" although there are hundreds of video/audio resouces that pronouce correctly "Myan Mar".

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