Burmese Daze

Travel in Burma for long enough and you will eventually hear the name, often whispered with something approaching awe: Mongla. It sounds a bit like Shangri-la, and for some Burmese—who have lived under military rule since 1962—it is. "There are no soldiers there," marveled one Burmese friend. "There it is like," he struggled to find a word to describe a place without Burmese soldiers. "There it is like democracy."

Well, not quite. Situated in Burma's Shan state, less than a mile from the Chinese border, Mongla is ruled by a brutal heroin trafficker and has an unsavory reputation...

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