tv Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown CNN June 21, 2014 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
chances are you haven't been to this place. chances are this is a place you've never seen. 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
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 in sight. >> nobel prize winning democracy champion, aung san suu kyi, after nearly 15 years in house arrest, was released. and is now taking an active role in politics. just as the door is opening, my crew and i are among the first to record what has been unseen for decades by most of the world. meanwhile, this southeast asian country of 80 million people 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, less sweet, very sweet, strong, less strong. everybo 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 and publisher u thiha saw. we meet at the seit taing kya tea shop. >> 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. so given your profession, 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, u thiha saw, would you come into the office and talk? >> right. >> so i went there, and -- i was there 89 days in prison. there was this very serious control that came with the first government. scrutiny 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, take a look, careful reading, something between the lines. >> something you were accused of, sending secret messages? in the back, a caldron of salty little 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, spice, and herb. >> mohinga?
this i must have. if there's a national dish, a fundamental, most beloved 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 edded tors and the boss, okay? 48 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 and reforms, but i'm still cautiously on the musk. >> 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. be seen talking to anybody with a camera, and 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 and 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. except for share food 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. but emerging after three years, she became in the minds of many, an apoll gist to the regime. fairly or not, i lee to others. >> you know, it's only after the military went away, you know, that things happen, especially with the state, like snow white. >> 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. >> pig head salad with kaffir lime leaves. long beans salad. with sesame and fish sauce. penny leaf salad, even this salad of indian-style samosa. >> everything's out there at the same time? >> yes. >> no first course or second course? >> no, no. iftime invited to a friend's house, the table would be covered with dishes, covered. >> and it's really about the interaction between a lot of colors in one dish or -- >> different. >> different. >> yeah. >> wow, i'm in love. that's good. >> and of course, there's the maddeningly delicious condiments and pickles of which to make each dish your own. >> you make a lot of different
combinations with each mouthful. >> this is something confusing in this part of the world, everyone eats differently to their own taste. >> anything goes. >> every mouthful, you can make as different as you want. [ female announcer ] hands were made for playing. legs, for crossing. feet...splashing. better things than the joint pain and swelling of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. if you're trying to manage your ra, now may be the time to ask about xeljanz. xeljanz (tofacitinib) is a small pill, not an injection or infusion, for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. xeljanz can lower your ability to fight infections,
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♪ credit cards accepted almost nowhere. cash machines, uh-uh. wi-fi? internet? rare. 3g? you've got to be kidding. 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 seafood house where fish is prepared in the style of the coastal city to the west. one of 135 distinct ethnic groups around here. >> now we're talking. it's one of the things we're told you have to eat here. frogs from the river, then tomato curry. try this. good sauce. that's good. that is some good -- 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 trending in their current direction, the busy hustle and bustle of yangon's 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. >> it seems only natural that you would be in burma, in myanmar, before me. 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.
>> glooep phillippe travels constantly. he's been bouncing around asia for decades. like all good travelers, he's relentlessly curious, without fear or prejudice. >> fantastic. >> it makes perfect sense over cold brew and chicken necks, phillippe is the one joining me to explore this particular moment in myanmar. >> 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 new york street fair, but with infinitely better food. >> are these the little birds? >> yeah. these guys are really good. they were flying just this morning. >> i'll tell you, it's the backbone of every street fair in the world, isn't it, deep fried food? >> and here they also have the little butter where they break a quail egg in it. so good. 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. >> you have to see it to believe it. >> an absolutely insanely dangerous, closely choreographed process of first getting the giant, heavily laden wheel in motion, and then 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
couple of blocks, bigger and bigger ferris wheels, each with its own troupe of acrobatic spinners. going for a ride is tempting, but -- >> cnn host implicated in death of four underage carneys. the thing just came off the hinges and the next thing you know, it was rolling down the street and sending those kids flying. if i had any idea, i never would have taken the ride, says bourdain. no, i don't think so. >> good luck, maybe you return safely with all of your limbs intact. t in the business of naming names. the fact is, it comes standard with an engine that's been called the benchmark of its class. really, guys, i thought... it also has more rear legroom than other midsize sedans. and the volkswagen passat has a lower starting price than... much better.
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♪ next day in the full moon festival. whether you're looking out the window at a rural village or at the streets of yangon, what's happening is probably pretty similar. a tableau of body painting, dancing, car-mounted speakers. but it's also three days of merit accruing. the practice soft performing
charitable or otherwise good works in the hopes of jacking up your karma. money trees are paraded around, pinned with cash donations for monks. fr free banquets and feasts are held. and many moments of spiritual reflection. the majority of people here practice tera vata buddhism, the oldest most conservative form of the religion which, simply put, 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, old school favorite around here, 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. cedarny ball, activist, astrologist, and three-times convict. >> almost everyone identify met has been to prison. >> 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, you know, say something, use a mirror to look each other. >> access to books? >> no books, no writing paper, nothing at all. a mat and a blanket and a plate and a bowl. only these 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 shops and restaurants still close early, but not here on 19th street, where you can eat barbecue late into the night. >> what do we have here, grilled 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 sex pistols and stuff like that. >> 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 any more. 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? >> my dream is to be strong, so that's why -- what i'm -- what i keep telling my band mates. >> come on.
>> i hope people reach out to you. because making rock 'n' roll is hard enough. truly independent rock 'n' roll is even harder. and i'm guessing that making it here is harder still. so, gentleman, you deserve some success. people should hear you. dive into our new pappardelle pescatore with the best of the bay. prepared from scratch daily and always served with unlimited salad and breadsticks. taste the flavors of the season at olive garden. c'mon, you want heartburn? when your favorite food starts a fight, fight back fast, with tums. heartburn relief that neutralizes acid on contact. and goes to work in seconds. ♪ tum, tum tum tum... tums! hey! so i'm looking at my bill, and my fico® credit score's on here. we give you your fico® score each month for free! awesomesauce!
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>> the what quch? >> the dining car. >> no, we lost the dining car here. >> but even our original car lost a whale. so we 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 really the question on this end of the journey is come back on the train or 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 have reached our cruising speed. >> really? this is cruising speed. you could literally outrun this train. >> we could jog ahead and have a nice meal in some, you know, recommended restaurant. >> 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 distinguishes 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 face paint and sunblock made from tree bark that masks many of their faces. it's ubiquitous here. 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. >> 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 are referred to here, a somewhat more benign sounding occurrence than, say, rolling off the tracks into a rice paddy, 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 a baby or anything. i mean, it's -- >> try pissing in the bathroom and find yourself launched straight up into the ceiling, bringing to rude conclusion, what was already an omnidirectional experience. >> smooth now. very relaxing. >> what kind of beer did you have? i want the same. my name is michael,
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>> 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 tracks. >> fly back to new york for breakfast. >> i 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 off-limits. simply put, there is shit going on that they do not want you to see. a low-intensity conflict with the ethnic kachin tribe would be one of them. a wave of persecution and death in the thu kine state. the country may be opening up at its center, but all along the edges, it's waging a desperate war to hang on to the status 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 line of kings. it's the sort of place where the old coexists with the even older. as elsewhere in this part of the world, many of the buddhist temples here, more animus, spirit-based beliefs coexist with more recent buddhism. and in myanmar, worship of the gnats are wore shipped, they're more like greek gods, former humans, demi-gods, often with very human qualities and failings. dance performances pay homage to the individual nats, performers claiming to actually channel them, bringing about one hopes a
beneficial spiritual possession. but i'm not just here for a nat pue. 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 slow simmered curry served with a side of sewer soup made from rose elle leaves. with it you get fried ground chilies, pickled bean sprouts. you get the idea. these relishes, the dippy type of things, really interesting salads, and i'm not really a salad guy, but the salads here are -- they're happening. spicy salads, salty, savory. it's delicious. delicious.
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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, and tours on tape. but no. >> this is stunning. >> you'll encounter western travellers at bagan's travel sites for sure, but generally speaking, they're a hardy bunch. even the bus tours here are not for the faint of heart or weak of spirit. but for the most part you are more likely to bump into a goat than a foreigner. >> this is so beautiful.
so much like an ode to human beliefs and administration administration and worshiping and -- >> slave labor. >> and slave labor. >> i'm thinking, you build this many temples, thousands in a short period of time, chances are, someone was working for less than minimum wage, let's put it that way. >> gr sure. oh, you 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 began this project after a conversion to buddhism. he started a new temple every 14 days. over 3,000 pagodas, temples, and
monasteries remain today. inside almost every one of them, a buddha figure, each one of them, different. >> and i like how integrated it is with the frieze, postures. >> funny you mention that. people used to live here and the government came along in the '80s and relocated them. it was a mass relocation project. so any homes, anything that was understood, this is a good -- 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 small numbers for a long time but it's the flood gates have opened. they're building hotels like crazy around this area, what's called the tourist triangle. >> what is this here? this is a scarf. >> as myanmar begins the shift
to accommodating tourism and the service economy to go with it there will be adjustments. there will be, of course, a downside. >> what is that going to mean? how will burmese react to all of the good and evils that come with tourism? it's going to be mobility. it's going to mean prosperity for some. it will mean a lot of bad things too. it will mean prostitution. it will mean hustling. >> everybody tell it to you. you buy -- you don't buy -- that's no fair. >> i don't need it. >> we're told that kids are dropping out of school to do it. the double-edged sword of the service economy. >> you want to buy? 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. it's easy for me to say whatever i want about the government. right? we can go home. you know, our lives will go on. we don't pay the price for that. 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 nice to us but said, look, i've just -- i've already been in jail. i really don't want to go back. it's a very real concern. what happens to the people we leave behind? one would think you can win freedom. they tasted freedom. 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
right direction. a country closed off to most for so long, sleeping, a 50-year nightmare for many of its citizens, finally, maybe, waking up. to what? time will tell. pity the salary man. tokyo's willing cog in an enormous machine requiring long hours, low pay, total dedication. and sometimes, what's called karoshi, death by overwork. here in a society of tight spaces and many expectations, the pressure is on to keep up appearances, to do what's expected, to not let the interior life become exterior. but ig