It is perhaps the easier solution to raise your hand and say no to the people trying to sell you postcards, t shirts, trays and something called a lungi (probably the wrong spelling) which is the sarong type garment that men and women wear in Mynamar.
These people, many children, some very young, are a persistent but polite and try hard to engage. Some we met spoke 4 or more languages as they tried their hardest to find some common ground to enable to make their pitch.
Almost uniformly on being told that we were English their response was ‘lovely juberly’ in a pseudo cross between an English and Indian accent.
One group followed us on cycles as we transferred by horse and cart to see a pagoda, targeting a particular cart and asking people on board to buy their wares.
‘You buy from me? When you come back I remember you…. You remember me, yes? When you come back you buy lungi for your lady…yes…I have pretty colours…she like’
To be fair virtually all of them were not interested in hand outs, they wanted to sell us something.
We took horse and carts through various tracks and in amongst various ancient pagodas to a small hill in the middle of nowhere to watch the sunset.
Within minutes of arriving a young woman arrived on a small motor bike and wandered over to see if she could sell us something.
Persistent yes, aggressive no. These are people full of smiles… Wonderful smiles that light up their faces.
As you wander around the ancient pagodas, encounter monks going about their day and watch people toil in the fields using the most basic of tools and the skills passed from generation to generation over many decades if not centuries you can’t help to wonder about the long term impact of tourism on these gentle people.
Sure tourism will bring greater prosperity…but dancing with the devil has real dangers. I hope they are successful. I remember them. I very much doubt they will remember me.