Skip to main content

Brownsville Community Library

World Cultures & Travel

Burma: A Land Beyond
World Cultures & Travel
Burma by Don Lyon

Thursday evening on September 15 Don Lyon wowed the audience with photos and tales from Burma: A Land Beyond. During his tour guide career, he has led several photographic expeditions to Burma. This beautiful country spans from hill country bordering China to the east and Bangladesh to the west. The south country is surrounded by the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea to the east and the Andaman Sea to the west. Burmese people have a serenity Westerners find hard to understand. They live amongst much strife but are content to live with just the basics.

There are multiple ethnic groups living in Burma. It was ruled by the English Colonial government for years and cabbies still drive some of the hansom cabs today. Many tasks are done by hand which we would use machinery for here in the US. From grinding peanuts for oil with an ox to planting, growing and harvesting rice, making bowls from bamboo, horsehair and lacquer, sewing scissors to plows, paper, silk in complicated patterns, lotus cloth, palm sugar sap and Burmese cheroots (cigarettes made from a particular tree leave and corn husk filter); all done by hand. In the countryside, much of the bathing and clothes washing are all done by hand in local waterways as water has to be carried by hand. There is no public works department in Burma. Every citizen provides the labor for public projects. All work is done by hand – one stone at a time. Bicycles are prominently used for delivering everything: bowls, crops and people.


Buddhism is the religion the regulates daily life. Some men join the monastery beginning after their schooling ends at age 15. Then again at mid age and at ‘retirement’. It is not uncommon to see praying Buddhist monks in the beautiful shrines or pagodas or walking through the town collecting alms. These alms (money or food) are not for the monks they are for the people giving the gifts to help their souls. Shrines are found throughout the country. Including Zedi’s which are personal shrines complete with a buddha inside.

I found this program an enlightening and amazing and am looking forward to the next World Cultures & Travel Program scheduled for Thursday, November 17 at 7 PM: An English Country Life.

Join local attorney Danielle Myers as she kicks off our Estate Planning Series on Thursday, October 20 at 7 PM: Wills or Probate? Other programs in this series include Advanced Directives (January 19), Funeral Arrangements (April 20) and Trusts (May 18). If you have questions about these programs or have an idea for a future program, please call the Library at 541.466.5454. See you in the Stacks!

Librarian Sherri