day 192: jade rush

You might have noticed: I like Myanmar. But of course, Myanmar has it dark sides like poverty, human rights issues and drugs. In the infamous Golden Triangle of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand a lot of opium was produced. Nowadays there is still a lot of poppy growing, especially to make heroin. Not everything is exported but consumed right at the spot. Especially in the north of Myanmar, in Kachin state. This area is blocked for tourists. You can get an expensive permit to fly to Putao and look at the Himalayan peaks there. The area must be bautiful, it´s the border land between India, Tibet, Myanmar and China.

This area is full of jade mines. The working conditions are not supposed to be the best. Many Myanmaris go there and try their luck. They dig outside the official mines hoping to find one big junk of jade and get rich. It´s the big jade rush up there. To handle the hard life people start injecting heroin, that is available there.

I haven´t been up there, I connot tell you first hand. But I met a lady working for Doctors without Borders, who have HIV-projects up there. Because people share needles and some of them get HIV. The farther you travel north, the more posters you see, that tell you how to avoid HIV. It was strange for me when I heard those stories. Heroin is a drug that I connect with city life, with junkies in the streets of New York or where ever. Not in the idyllic, green mountain scenery of Myanmar.


About Michaela Krimmer

35, anthropologist, Austrian, female

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