"Finding George Orwell in Burma" by Emma Larkin

Travel Forums Asia "Finding George Orwell in Burma" by Emma Larkin

1. Posted by rbyslipahs (Respected Member 349 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I just started reading (no, devouring) this book over the weekend, and I'm now curious to hear from others who have traveled recently in Burma/Myanmar.

What is it like? Did you get the feeling that "Big Brother" was watching you?

2. Posted by Mikey B (Respected Member 181 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

'Burmese Days' The novel by Orwell inspired by his time spent working as a British Policeman in Burma is also worth a read. His first novel I believe and certainly not up there with 1984 but still interesting.

3. Posted by matthi (Budding Member 5 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

i´ve been there last year for 4 weeks with the backpack.
its probably the most aboriginal asian country. nearly no tourism over there. people live and work like they did thousands of years before.they have military regime over there but this didnt harm us.most people never had contact with foreigners specially from the west so you are an attraction where ever you go. the culture is amazing. old templecitys in the forest and pagodas everywhere.
interesting an fascinating traditions and unaltered asian lifestyle. no makeup for tourism.
but also not easy to get through for tourists who are used to comfort.
nearly no hotels outside the majorcities, had hygiene. sometimes no water or toilets, etc. but it has its own charme.
if you have any special questions, i´ll try to help....if i can;)
ps: i loaded some pictures from my burmatrip on my profile, if your interested...

4. Posted by rbyslipahs (Respected Member 349 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Mikey B

'Burmese Days' The novel by Orwell inspired by his time spent working as a British Policeman in Burma is also worth a read. His first novel I believe and certainly not up there with 1984 but still interesting.

You should really check this book out, then! She (really a he) actually attempts to pick up by travelling where Orwell left off with another book he had started on before his death. Basically, a lot of the intelligentsia of Burma see Burmese Days, Animal Farm, and 1984 as a trilogy. The author talks about all three of Orwell's novels all through this book.

Orwell's latter two were required reading for us in high school, and of course, we all thought they were so dry and dull, partially because we read them in history classes. I think what fascinates me now is the fact that it's NOT history. It's actually happening in a country right now.

Matthi--checking out your pics... and you will probably get a request for help at some point! I am completely intrigued by Burma right now.

5. Posted by Mikey B (Respected Member 181 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Hi Amanda

I'll have to try and get hold of a copy of the Larkin book. Sounds interesting.

I actually spent a month in Burma last year. I'm writing this at work so I don't have time to go into detail now about my experiences there. However I have posted some thoughts on Burma previously which you can read by going to the link below...




6. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 2120 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I was in Burma (Myanmar) a few years ago. Had a good time, found the people very helpful and friendly.

One of the previous comments mentioned that the people had very little interaction with foreignors, in particular non-Asian foreignors. It was not unusual to walk down a street and look back and see little kids following you. Felt a little like the Pied Piper.

Even in Yangon (Rangoon) you could see the big difference between that city and Bangkok or Manila. I never felt threatened by the authorities or anyone for that matter.

A hotel I can recommend in Yangon is the Guest Care Hotel, 107 (A) Dhamma Zedi Road, and another hotel called the Yar Kinn Thar Hotel, Anawrahta Road, Nyaung 00. (This is very close to Bagan.) Both hotels were pretty good, A/C, HW, private toilet. Helpful staff too!

One area I would recommend you to visit is Bagan. Bagan has thousands of temples, some are piles of rubble, some in pretty good shape. Not far from the temple area is Mount Popa. Mount Popa looks like a huge stone ball with a temple on top. (It's the interior of a volcano after all of the earth has been eroded away,) Interesting walk up Mt. Popa, halfway up you have to take your shoes off - lots of monkey poop to soften your steps.

When I was a kid I watched a neat movie by John Sturges called "Never So Few," Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Peter Lawford, etc. were in it. The book it was based on by Tom T. Chamales was much better though. The book and movie is about fighting in Burma during WWII.


7. Posted by finlay (First Time Poster 1 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

You can find more, unread material about Orwell (including his time at Burma at - --promotional website removed---

Sorry to post like this, I just thought a book might be of interest to you Orwell fan's.

Theres a re-release of a book called Eric & Us that is written by a close friend of Orwell's and is the only material in existance that details his most influential years - even if you've read all his biographies you wouldnt have read about this period of his life!

You can find out a lot more at ----promotional website removed---

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and sorry if I have broken any rules!

[ Edit: Sorry no promotional addresses please use personal messaging thanks ]

8. Posted by john7buck (Respected Member 458 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


I actually bought the book a few weeks ago but have been saving it for the plane ride over. I leave in a week for SE Asia and after a few weeks on Malaysian Borneo will be headed to Myanmar. I can't tell you how excited I am. I'll be happy to provide info after my return if you like.

Since you seem to be on a Myanmar kick, I highly recommend you rent the movie Beyond Rangoon. I was just flipping through the channels the other night and it was on TV. Phenominal movie. At first, I was just into the scenery, but I think it also provides a very good historical account of the Pro-Democracy movement and how the military ultimately held control. Very sad, but very interesting. The movie also showed the people to be so very kind and accomodating. I hope it proves to be the case in real life.

I cannot wait to go.

9. Posted by buzzard (Respected Member 187 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I agree, the Emma Larkin book was great! By contrast, I found another book about the country, "Under the Dragon: Travels in a Betrayed Land" by Rory MacLean to be annoying. The author appeared to have a miserable time during his trip and reading it was equally unenjoyable. Other books that I DID like include "The Trouser People" by Andrew Marshall and "Land of a Thousand Eyes" Peter Olszewski. The latter title was written by a guy that lived in Yangon for a while, working with an English language newspaper. His book has no political axe to grind and is the best at giving the reader a feel for what the Myanmar people are really like.

As far as being watched, I've spent only 5 weeks in Myanmar, over the course of three visits, and I've never felt like I was being under surveillance. In fact, I feel more like I'm being watched whenever I'm in Cambodia, or even certain places in Thailand (and that's the pre-coup era!). Overall, I find Myanmar to be very safe and enjoyable. Internet service sucks and the electrical supply is shaky (frequent power cuts) but everything else is wonderful.

10. Posted by buzzard (Respected Member 187 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I might also add that karazyal's "Pied Piper" comment is totally accurate. I found this especially true when a friend and I stayed in New Bagan recently. Being low season, we were the only two guests in town! And naturally all the local kids followed us around everywhere. Despite trying to sell us all sorts of crap (postcards, laquerware, bracelets, paintings, etc.) they were a fun bunch. In fact, we took 12 of them (plus our horse cart drivers) out to dinner one night at a local restaurant. Great experience!

[ Edit: Edited at Sep 22, 2006 12:18 AM by buzzard ]