Sisyphi | Mission to Burma 03

While traveling around Mandalay and the surrounding ancient capitals, I came across several dozen workers loading barges with large rocks from the mainland. Just carrying rocks and dumping rocks and repeating the process ad nauseam. It was poetic and interesting in that way that sometimes very repetitive things can be poetic and interesting. I stuck around for a bit and took some photos. I also climbed the planks up to the barge and almost got bounced into the water (apparently long thick unsupported beams BOUNCE like all get-out, I learned almost tragically), which elicited cheers and laughs and bonding and all that. Once up on the boat, I had to steel myself for a good 15-20 minutes before making my way back down. The beams are steeper than they look. In the end, it was kind of a leap of fate.

Anyway, the rocks were being transported to build highways. A few boats down, people were hauling lumber and smaller rocks and charcoal. All back and forth, back and forth. For each trip, an individual earns one stick. At the end of the day, the sticks are traded in for 50 kyat a piece. About five cents. A good worker can make as many as 300 trips during the day. So that’s like US$20 a day, when there’s work. No clear answer on whether or not there’s always work.

7 thoughts on “Sisyphi | Mission to Burma 03”

  1. Wow. Remind me not to complain about my job… And great photos!

  2. i’m so glad for finding your blog!
    you are connecting my favorite Interests, Photography and this country. (ok, it’s not the oy country i’m interested in)
    maybe you have a look at my very new blog, i would be very happy! 🙂
    i’m looking forward to read your blog,

  3. When I was riding through Burma I found some very old people building roads in the Shan state. As I recall they were not being paid but forced. Burma is such a bittersweet experience. Is the change (in government) there palpable?

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