This is a very interesting travel documentary, part of the Great Journeys series, in which Miles Kington travels along the so-called Burma Road in 1987, a year before the Democracy Movement upheaval.
By 1987 Burma had been under a repressive military dictatorship for almost 50 years, and was suffering the consequences, having gone from one of the most prosperous, to one of the poorest countries, in SE Asia during that time.
The Burma Road is not a fixed road, but – a bit like the Silk Road – was a kind of route, which became famous as the road into China, something that played a big part in the war against Japan in World War II.
At the time Miles was there there was no proper and continuous road even from Yangon to Mandalay, the first and second cities of the country, and the route to get there was up the Irrawaddy River.
This takes up the first part of the film, and once in Mandalay he then makes his way as far north as it was possible to go before the insurgencies in the north prevented further progress. He then flies over the problem areas into China, and continues the journey to the capital of Yunnan, Kunming.
Along the way he makes various observations about the situations and peoples he encounters, and gives a gentle assessment of the state of the country; the real value though lies in seeing for ourselves how Myanmar looked at that time, in an era now past.
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