Thursday, March 3, 2011

Burmese Days

I once lived in the foothills of the Himalayas, 1900m up and about 385km from the China-Burma border. This was rugged terrain, a land fit for smugglers where, on the Burmese side, there is no law but the military's. Sixty-five years before, American pilots based in Kunming flew over the hills and down into Burma's dry plateau, dropping bombs on Japanese positions.

Among those who survived fierce fighting in Meiktila and Pyawbe was George MacDonald Fraser, later author of the Flashman books, favourites of many. Fraser's memoir of these years, Quartered Safe Out Here (, tells of monsoons, malaria, Gurkhas, patrols, battles, and a perfectly eccentric general. The book comes highly recommended, and the above photo now hangs in a pizza parlour in Kunming.

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