tv Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown CNN April 21, 2013 2:00am-3:00am PDT
other than maybe blurry cell phone videos, old black-and-white newsreels from world war ii. chances are bad things were happening in the footage you saw. myanmar, after 50 years of nightmare, something unexpected it happening here, and it's pretty incredible. ♪ ♪ in yangon, the capital city of myanmar, it's dark. blackouts are frequent, with the
ancient power grid. but sources of light there are in the street cast an eerie yellow-orange hue. for almost 100 years under british rule, this was rangoon. in 1948 after helping the british fight off the japanese, there was a new taste for self-determination, the country gained independence. after a decade of instability, however, the military consolidated power and never let go. elections? they came and went. the results ignored, opposition punished, or silenced entirely. burma, now myanmar, where orwell once served as a colonial policeman, where he first had grown to despise the apparatus of a colonial state, make more orwellian than imagined, in a nation where even having an opinion could be dangerous.
>> i am very honored to be here at this university and to be the first president of the united states of america to visit your country. >> morning in yangon, to nearly everyone's surprise, there have been some huge changes in recent months. >> difficult time in transition is when we think that success is -- >> nobel prizewinning democracy champion, aung san suu kyi, after 15 years in house arrest, was released, now taking an active part in with the doors opening, our crew is the first -- meanwhile, this southeast asian country of 80 million is collectively holding its breath, waiting to see what's next, and will this loosening of government grip last?
of course, morning in yangon has always been about tea. it's black indian-style tea, usually with a thick dollop of sweetened condensed milk. you want it sweet this less sweet? very sweet? strong? less strong? everybody's got a preference, everybody's got a preferred tea shop, where they know presumably how you like yours. >> i want only last week a bit strong. >> journalist u thiha saw, we meet at the seit taing kya. >> this place means a lot of things. not just a place to grab a snack.
>> for 50 years of paranoia and repression, teahouses were also the main forum for guarded and not so guarded discussions of the daily news, where you tried to piece together the real stories behind the ludicrously chopped and censored newspapers. carefully, of course, because informers and secret police were also heavily represented in these hotbeds of sedition and discontent given your position, how have you managed to stay out of prison all these years? >> no, i was there. two times. >> two times. >> once they called me and said would you come into the office and talk? >> right. >> so i went there, and -- i was there no nine days. it was a very serious control that came with the first government. and registration. >> that doesn't sound good. >> together and we look at everything.
take this out, take that out or black that out, or just take the whole story. >> magazines that came into the country, they would literally cut out the pieces? >> people under this kind of censorship, i think they become more creative, care 68 reading, something between the lines. >> something you were accused of, sending secret messages? in the back, a call drone of salty fish bubble over hardwood coals. fingers work mountains of sweet bean, one of the fillings for the variety of pastries stuffed, shaped and put into an old wood stove oven. in another corner, the heartening slap of fresh bread pressed against the clay wall of
a tan doori, and of course eggs bobs and spins in the broth of fish, surprise and herb. >> mohinga? this i must have. if there's a national dish, would it be this? >> yes, you look at the sometimes. these are indian, these are chinese, but mohinga is a local thing. it's fish based with rice or noodles, sometimes we put in some crispies, like fried beans, and these are some coriander leaves. >> yeah. >> lime. >> sprinkle some in here. >> good textures. particularly in the light of obama's recent visit, these are interesting times. significant changes for the first time in 50 years. >> yes. one thing that's quite significant. you take a look around, all kinds of people, all age groups. a couple years ago, people would be talking about politics,
you -- nowadays, it's more outspoken. the government is more open. they also are relaxing the rules about censorship. august 20th, we were called into the office, many publishers and editors, and the boss, okay, 40 years and 20 days of censorship is gone. that's it. >> feel good? >> yeah. that's what we've been waiting for for so many years. >> i love the answer. it's a careful yes. >> yes. people in the country, we have some doubt, is it real? the changes? the reforms? but now it's a couple years. people start to believe, okay, maybe it's real. the process is still very young, but it's still possible. when the generals stop and say, okay, now let's turn back or let's stop. i'm optimistic about the changes, but, it's a course.
>> in yangon, motor bikes are outlawed. why is a matter of much rumor and speculation, so it's the bus for me. something seems almost out of sync. not too long ago, even filming here officially as an open professional western film crew, would have been unthinkable. in 2007, a japanese journalist was shot point-blank and killed filming a street demonstration. people seen talking to anybody with a camera, there would likely be a knock on your door in the middle of the night. yet so far confronted with our cameras, a few smiles, mostly indifference at worst, shocking considering how recently the government has started to relax its grip.
>> we love to eat. don't forget for 15 years, under dictatorship, there were not a lot of things to do. get shampoo and eat. >> this is ma thanegi, a famous and very controversial figure in public life. >> myanmar or burma? >> myanmar, because that's the original name since the 13th century. >> ma thanegi, like u thiha saw, has also spent time in prison. emerging after three years, they became to the minds of many an apologist to the regime. fairly or not -- to others. >> you know, it's only after the military went away, you know, that things happen, especially with the state like -- >> but her many well-known books on the culinary traditions of
myanmar, make her a compelling advocate for burmese cuisine. >> you're very passionate about the cooking and cuisines. >> just because i like to eat. i eat like a pig. >> this is yangon's feel restaurant. >> i think the best of our food, i'm going to order a lot of salads. it's good to be like sort of a tasting thing. this is the restaurant. >> it's the best of our food and we order lots of salads. it's good to be sort of a tasting thing. >> there's pig head salad with lime leaf with sesame and fish sauce, penny leaf salad. >> everything's out there at the same time? >> yes. if i'm invited to a friend's house, it's delicious. >> it's really the interaction between colors and tastes of one dish or -- >> different. >> different. that's good. >> yes, it is.
>> condiments and pickles with each to make your own. and this is something very confusing in general in this part of the world. everybody eats everything differently. very much to their taste. >> anything goes. >> anything goes. you can make it as different as you want. ♪ (announcer) wake them up with breakfast-favorite flavors like salmon, egg, cheese, and whole grain oats. friskies. now serving breakfast. and didn't know where to start. used a contractor before at angie's list, you'll find reviews on everything from home repair to healthcare written by people just like you. no company can pay to be on angie's list, so you can trust what you're reading. angie's list is like having thousands of close neighbors where i can go ask for personal recommendations. that's the idea. before you have any work done, check angie's list. from roofers to plumbers to dentists and more,
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credit cards accepted almost nowhere. cash machines, uh. wifi? internet? rare? if you need to exchange money here, only crisp, absolutely none $100 bills accepted. in myanmar, it's another older world. oh, and what's up with this? with all kissing sounds, smooching, kissing sound ear hearing all over the place? my wife would have been in like ten fights so far. sorry, who are you smooching at? this is how you summon a waiter in myanmar. i know. i know. try that at hooters, and you would be rightly ejected. it takes some getting used to, for sure. this is a big noisy fish house. named for you this khine people.
>> now we're talking. it's one of the things we're told you have to eat here. frogs from the river, then tomato curlily. try this. good sauce. that's good. that's some good stuff, my friends. we shall know them by the number of their dead. early morning in yangon. among the crush of commuters, shoppers, people trying to make a living, rise up the last remnants of empire. faded, often crumbling, but still there after all these years. these are the offices, businesses, and public buildings of the british colonials.
this building was once one of the swankest department stores in rangoon. a century ago in the poem by kipling, young englishmen, you could buy fine egyptian cigarettes, french liqueurs. the floor tiles were shipped over from manchester. now people live here. a half century of a pariah state has left very few of these buildings in good repair. there are divergent views on whether to preserve them. for many a reminder of colonial subjugation, for others, a vestige of a golden time. ♪ >> these days in myanmar in the streets, on the docks, it's all about moving forward. in an economy ripe to explode if
things continue to trend, the busy port appears even busier today as workers prepare for the oncoming holiday. hey, chef. how are you doing? >> it figures, doesn't it? >> it does. welcome to myanmar. >> philip lajaunie, owner and proprietor of my old restaurant les halles. back before i wrote the book that changed my life to whatever it is i am today, i had never been to asia until this guy sent me to japan, and got me hooked on a continent. >> there we go. >> oh, nice. chicken head, yeah. >> that is the perfect mood awakener. >> flip traveled constantly, bouncing around asia for decades.
he's relentlessly curious, and without fear or prejudice. >> fantastic. >> it makes perfect sense over cold brew and chicken necks, flip is the one joining mess to explore this particular moment in myanmar. >> the party. >> it is going to be a party. full moon party tonight. what's that mean? we have no idea. >> we don't know. there's only one way to find out, i suppose. ♪ >> it sounds like a party. >> it's crazy from now on. >> it's full moon day, a holiday marking the end of the rainy season.
today marks the beginning of three days of break out the crazy. giant speakers compete for attention. everybody cheerfully oblivious to the distortion. cotton candy, trinkets, tube socks, just like a street fair, but infinitely better food. >> these are very good. >> it's the backbone of every street fair, isn't it? deep fried food. >> that's it. and also the little butter where they break a quail egg in it. one shot, pretty good. all right. this is so tasty. much better than i thought. >> anytime you tell me crispy
little bird, i'm all over it. >> good beak, too. crispy and tender. >> oh, and they have rides. check this out. okay. it's a ferris wheel, but the power source, not unusual for these parts, is not electric, it ain't gas. oh, man, are you kidding me? it's human power. >> yes. every bit of it. >> an absolutely insanely dangerous closely choreographed process of first getting the heavily laden wheel in motion and getting it up to top speed and keeping it there. wow. look at this thing tilting out, too. >> then it goes the other way. >> note to footwear, by the way. it's not just this one, every
coming blocks bigger and bigger, each one with its own troupe of spinners. going for a ride is tempting, but -- >> host of cnn implicated in death of four underage carnies. next thing i would know it's rolling down the street and sending kids flying. if i had any idea, i never would have taken the ride, so says bourdain. it's hard making a buck but again and again, the team climbs y for being clean. you said it. ladies, let's not fight dirty. cascade kitchen counselor. see, over time, finish gel can leave hard-water film on your dishes and dishwasher. new cascade platinum's triple-action formula not only cleans your dishes, it helps keep your dishwasher sparkling. so we're good? don't do that. okay. [ female announcer ] cascade's best is new cascade platinum.
charitable good works in the hopes of jacking up your karma. money trees are paraded around pinwood cash donations for months. free bang wets and feasts are held. many moments of spiritual reflection. the majority of people here practice tera vata buddhism, the oldest most conservative form of the religion, which simply puts asserts that existence is pretty much a continuous cycle of suffering through birth, death and rebirth. >> very noisy. very noisy, yes. >> the morningstar teahouse where i've come for several years, the must-have bone deep,
la pet tuk. the salad of fermented leaves, i know, it doesn't sound good, but you would be wrong to think that. take the fermented tea leaves, add cabbage, tomatoes and lots of crunchy bits, season with lime and fish sauce. this is absolutely delicious. >> you like it? >> oh, yes. >> yes, yes, fantastic. >> simple, delicious, things not to be taken for granted if you've been out of joint like this guy, zanzi. >> this happens again and again for us in myanmar. >> almost six years? >> nearly six years. all the judgments are made by the kangaroo court and the army, and the three officers sitting together, they read off, this is your sentence. it happens only minutes, like that. >> what is life like inside prison.
>> nice, nice, very nice. >> i have a hard time believing that. >> we can talk to each other, say manage, use a mirror to look at each other? >> books? >> no books, no writing things, no paper. no, nothing at all. a mat and a blanket and a plate and a bowl. >> right. >> only things are the things that we possess. >> how is the food in prison? >> soup. pea soup. only one meat meal for a week. that's on thursday. you know that in prison, all the -- nobody, only the head of the fish and the tail. no middle part. >> so there is hope for this country, in your view. yes? >> yes, yes. the buddhists believe how to live in situations, dictators, political passion, or even
discrimination, everything is happening to us, but the buddhists say, okay, that's a tough life, you can make something good. >> there's something pretty cool about meeting people who have been for so long unable to speak. now so unguarded about their hopes and their feelings. ♪ ♪ >> sizzling meat, the clink of beer glasses, ringing bicycle bells. this is yangon's 19th street. does yangon rock? can it rock? >> nine years, like a must-go
place when you are in yangon. >> meet burmese punk rockers side effect, and lead singer darko. >> you can come here any time, there will be lots of people like here. >> so if you sit here long enough, you'll see every musician? >> yeah, you can say that. >> the citywide curfews used to mean close your doors at 11:00. most restaurants close early but not here on 19th street where you can eat barbecue into the middle of the night. >> what is this, tofu? >> pork tail. >> the barbecue is awesome. >> these young men show exactly how determined you've got to be to rock, especially in burma. >> i like to say my -- was nirvana, and then toes -- >> what american bands do you hate? >> um, creed. >> yes!
they are like the worst band in the history of, like, the world. so what's it like having an indie band in myanmar? difficult? >> for sure, yeah. before you record a song, like when you have the lyrics, you have to submit the lyrics, so they're going to censor it, they're going to check it. even sometimes they will, you know, suggest you some words you change. >> that must be funny. >> very funny, you know. >> now, is that still the case? >> no, it's not like that anymore. they're not going to censor you, because it's risky. you don't know what will happen to you if you write and sing something wrong. >> so let me ask this. if all your dreams came true,
where would you want to play? >> really? new york city. >> you want to go to new york city? >> it's my dream. i just need to be strong. so that's why -- what i'm -- what i keep telling my band mates. >> come on. >> so old people reach out. making roll and roll is hard enough. truly independent rock and roll is even harder. i'm guessing making it here is even harder still. so gentlemen, you deserve success. what's your secret? dawn? [ female announcer ] dawn hand renewal with olay beauty improves the look and feel of hands in 5 uses. love it, or get double your money back. even in stupid loud places. to prove it, we set up our call center right here... [ chirp ] all good? [ chirp ] getty up. seriously, this is really happening!
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>> no, we lost the dining car, i hear. >> but even our car of the wheel. we just have to hope for the best. >> the night express to bagan. 600 kilometers of what will turn out to be kidney-softening travel by rail, but bagan, myanmar's ancient capital, i'm told, is a must see. >> the true old english experience. the engine is a french engine from the '70s. >> we've been told it's a somewhat uncomfortable ten-hour trip. so the question on this adjourn,is come back on the trainer flying coffin? >> mishaps on both burmese planes and trains are not, shall we say, unheard of. >> the widowmaker express. >> that is the choice.
that may be the signal to depart at some point. >> yeah. all aboard. whole. we're moving. here we go. >> here we go. >> that's it. we are at cruising speed. >> really? this is cruising speed. i could literally outrun this train. >> we could jog ahead and have a nice meal. >> we could catch up with it. >> with a digestive walk. here we go. this is stop number one of 75. ♪
>> heading north, the scenery opens up. the space between things gets wider, more pastoral, more beautiful. looking around at my fellow passengers, it could be hard to distinguish between the 135-plus ethnic groups that make up the burmese population. the very name, burma, refers actually to only one of these groups. what they all seem to have in common, however, is a thanaka, a sunscreen from tree bark that masks many of their faces. at first jarring to see, it quickly becomes something you get used to and take for granted.
yangon's gravitational pull broken, and with darkness falling, the train picks up speed. at times terrifyingly so. >> if this thing is going to derail at some point. they have lost how many wheels yesterday on this one train? so truly it's about being in the right car, the one that keeps its wheels. >> derailments or rail splits as they've referred to more is more benign sounding than rolling off into the rice patties, which are not uncommon.
one can't help wondering what the engineer and conductor are thinking as the train speeds heedlessly on faster and faster. >> all right. it must be like 40, 50 miles per hour at this point. >> i wonder if anyone has ever flown out of their seat out the window. you don't want to be holding a lap dog. >> or baby or anything. >> yeah. try going in the bathroom and find yourself launched straight up into the ceiling, bringing to a rude conclusion what was already a omnidirectional experience. >> cruising now, very relaxing. >> what kind of beer did you have? love your passat! um. listen, gary.
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1,000? >> 1,000. >> done. now, this is breakfast. >> nearly 19 hours into our ten-hour trip in the night express to bagan lurches and bounces onward over old and poorly maintained track. >> fly back to new york for breakfast. >> i haven't had time. >> what's yours? >> arrowroot. >> potato. >> how do you make good -- look at this, a bouquet of fish. >> indeed. >> this is the plain of bagan. >> out the window, the modern world seems to fade away, then disappear all together, like the last century never happened, or
even the century before that. we're traveling across the largest mainland nation in southeast asia. but it should be pointed out that we are still within the confines of the tourist triangle. areas permissible for travel. whole sectors of this country, much of it, in fact, are limits. simply put, there is stuff going on that they don't do not want you to see. with the ethnic tribe would be one of them. a wave of persecution and death in the thu kine state. they're waging a desperate war to hang on to the stat us quo. needless to say, the status quo is not good.
>> all right. bagan, here we come. ♪ >> a thousand years ago, bagan was the capital for a long time of kings. it's the sort of place where the old co-exists with the even older. as elsewhere in this part of the world. in many of the buddhist temples here more spirit-based beliefs co-exist with buddhism. and in myanmar, worship of the gnats are wore shipped, they're gods, obvious with human failings. dance performances pay homage to
the individual nats, performers claiming to actually channel them, bringing about one hopes a i have a list. things to eat in myanmar. this is one of them. chicken curry. and from roadside joints like this nestled among the temple ruins, you're more than likely to catch a very enticing whiff. just delicious. spicy, but not to the point you want to scream out for mercy, but low simmered curry served with a side of sour soup made from rozelle leaves. with it you get fried ground chilies, pickled bean sprouts, you get the idea. these relishes, the dippy type of things, really interesting salad, but i'm not really a salad guy.
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♪ you'd expect this, an ancient city of nearly unparalleled size and beauty to be overrun with tourists, souvenir shops, snack bars, tours on tape, but, no. >> oh, this is stunning. >> you'll encounter some western travelers at bagan's temple sites for sure, but generally speaking they are a hardy bunch. even the bus tours here are not for the feint of heart or weak of spirit. but for the most part you're far more likely to bump into a goat than a foreigner.
>> this is so beautiful, so much like an ode to human, you know, beliefs and adoration and worshipping and -- >> slave labor. >> and slave labor. >> i'm thinking you build this many temples, thousands of them in a relatively short period of time, chances are, someone was working for less than minimum wage, let's put it that way. >> oh, sure. >> oh, we could fly here. look at that. >> a millennia ago in a period of just under 250 years, over 4,000 structures like this were built here. they say that a king anarata began this project after a conversion to a style of buddhism. they started a new temple like every 14 days.
over 3,000 pagodas, temples and monasteries remain today. inside almost every one of them, a buddha figure, each one different. >> and i like how integrated it is with the trees, pastures. >> funny you should mention that. people used to live here, but the government came along in the '80s i believe and relocated. it was a mass relocation project so any homes, anything, it was understood that this was a good tourist bucks here. they relocated the entire population. we're in one of the first mass waves of tourists. european tourists have been coming here in relatively small numbers for a long time, but the floodgates have certainly open. they are building hotels like crazy around this area, what's called a tourist triangle. >> what is this here?
>> as myanmar begins its shift towards accommodating increasing tourism and a service economy to go with it, there will be adjustments. there will be, of course, a downside. >> how might you pay? >> what's that going to mean? how will burmese react to all the good and evils that come with tourism? >> what about you? you buy one is this. >> perfect. >> excuse me. >> it's going to mean mobility, prosperity for some. it will mean a lot of bad things, too. it will mean prostitution. it will mean hustling. >> okay. >> buy one for the children. >> everybody is selling to you. but you don't buy. that's not fair. >> i don't need the postcard. >> we're told kids are dropping out of school to do this.
the double-edged sword of the service economy. >> you want to buy postcard for only $5, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. >> what i'm amazed is how friendly and open people are with us, and it's very easy for me to sit here and say whatever i want about the government, right? me can go home, you know. our lives will go on. we don't pay the price for that show. everybody who helped us could very well pay that price. it should be pointed out that a lot of people did not. a lot of people were very nice to us but said, look, i just -- i've already been in jail, you know. i really don't want to go back. it's a very real concern, what happens to the people we leave behind. you know, one would think you can't win's one freedom, they have tasted freedom. well, you know, you can put the toothpaste back in the tube, you know. there's no doubt about that. but for the moment at least things seem to be moving in the
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