BURMA TOUR – A thank you poem for Nyi Nyi

When we first met Nyi Nyi
He told us all his name
Said friends all called him Frankie
And we should do the same

Because his name is hard to say
The likelihood was strong
That if we called him Nyi Nyi
We were bound to get it wrong

His English, tho, was excellent
His knowledge clearly wide
And we were all so glad that he
Was going to be our guide

That first day when we got there
He stood up on the bus
Explained that he would show us round
And take good care of us

And for two weeks he has done
In oh so many ways
Explaining life in Burma
And filling up our days

With temples and with Buddhas
With early morning flights
With rides in balloons and trips on boats
To see amazing sights

Sunrise on Lake Inle
Aboard a long tailed boat
Trekking up the mountains
To places quite remote

Taking tea in monasteries
Palata from a stall
Buddhist friezes painted
On ancient temple wall

Reclining Buddha sleeping
Flowers at his feet
Pink and yellow garlands
Frangipani sweet

Neon flashing halos
Lighting up gold leaf
Honouring the Buddha
The faithful bow beneath

Nuns in robes of red and pink
Walk by with shaven head
With silver bowl extended
To receive their daily bread

Children running barefoot
Monks with sandalled feet
Women cooking dumplings
Over fires on the street

Women from the hill tribes
Silver in their ears
Blackened teeth and turbans worn
As they have done for years

Beaded silver headdress
That Aka women wear
While village mother quietly
Combs length of stone grey hair

While women folk and farmers
Labour in the field
Bringing in the harvest
Gathering the yield

Of cabbages and sweet corn
Rice and ears of grain
Beans and sweet potato
Fruit and sugar cane

On patchwork quilted hillsides
Under cloud blue sky
Ochre, red and yellow
As we journey by

And so the bus drives onwards
We ask for it to stop
To take another picture
To see another shop

To buy another longhi
To buy another hat
To haggle in the markets
To save a thousand khat

To take home a memento
So we will not forget
The time we’ve had in Burma
That’s not quite over yet

All of this and so much more
We’ve learned from being here
Memories more powerful
Than any souvenir

Images of Burma
Fabled golden land
Which, with thanks to Frankie
We begin to understand

And so, with thanks from all of us,
There’s nothing left to say
Except goodbye to Frankie
And a heartfelt “Jezebeh”

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