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  Field Notes From
Burma Road

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Burma Road On AssignmentArrows

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From Photographer

Maria Stenzel

Burma Road On Assignment

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From Author

Donovan Webster

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Maria Stenzel


Burma Road

Field Notes From Photographer
Maria Stenzel

Best Worst Quirkiest
    I really enjoyed talking with people I met along the road and giving them Polaroid photos as gifts. I saw a small, elderly Chinese man herding goats along the road and asked the driver to stop so I could take pictures. My interpreter, Zhu, then told me, "Maria, he built the road." I learned that he had been forced to work for the Chinese government when he was only ten, for no money. It was very special to be able to connect with the past like that, meet these people, and hear their stories.

    The leeches were definitely my worst experience. They were extremely unpleasant, although they're not actually painful. We could see their shadows when they were on the outside of the tent, trying to find a way to get in. It was pretty horrible. I had a competition with Don, the writer: Whoever found more leeches on their body won a sundae from the other. Don still owes me a sundae.  

    I had a great conversation with an elderly Burmese woman about her memories of World War II. During the war she lived near Nanyung, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the Indian border. She remembered soldiers marching through her town to Myitkyina, the sound of bombs, and the first time she saw an airplane flying overhead. She was afraid and hid in the jungle. I asked her if she saw any American or Japanese soldiers. She said, "I don't know the difference."

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