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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

ANTHONY BOURDAIN - PARTS UNKNOWN - Travel to Myanmar

Aired April 14, 2013 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST (voice-over): Chances are you haven't been to this place. Chances are this is a place you've never seen. Other than maybe blurry cell phone videos, old black-and-white newsreels from World War II. Chances are bad things were happening in the footage you saw.

Myanmar, after 50 years of nightmare, something unexpected is happening here, and it's pretty incredible.

In Yangon, the capital city of Myanmar, it's dark. Blackouts are frequent, with the ancient power grid. But sources of light there are in the street cast an eerie yellow-orange hue. For almost 100 years under British rule, this was Rangoon. In 1948 after helping the British fight off the Japanese, and with the new taste for self- determination, the country gained independence.

After a decade of instability, however, the military consolidated power and never let go. Elections? They came and went. The results ignored, opposition punished, or silenced entirely.

Burma, now Myanmar, where Orwell had once served as a colonial policeman, where he'd first grown to despise the apparatus of a security state, became more Orwellian than even he could have imagined. A nation where even having an opinion could be dangerous.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am very honored to be here at this university and to be the first president of the United States of America to visit your country.

BOURDAIN: Morning in Yangon, to nearly everyone's surprise, there have been some huge changes in recent months.

AUNG SAN SUU KYI, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Difficult time in any transition is when we think that success is in sight.

BOURDAIN: Nobel Prize-winning democracy champion, Aung San Suu Kyi, for nearly 15 years under house arrest, was released, and is now taking an active part in politics.

Just as the the doors are opening, my crew and I are among the first to record what has been unseen for decades by most of the world. Meanwhile, this Southeast Asian country of 80 million people is collectively holding its breath, waiting to see what's next, and will this loosening of government grip last?

Of course, morning in Yangon has always been about tea. It's black Indian-style tea, usually with a thick dollop of sweetened condensed milk. You want it sweet, less sweet, very sweet? Strong? Less strong? Everybody's got a preference, everybody's got a preferred tea shop, where they know presumably how you like yours.

THIHA SAW, JOURNALIST: I want only last week a bit strong.

BOURDAIN: Journalist and publisher Thiha Saw, we meet at the Seit Taing Kya tea shop.

SAW: Anything could happen in a tea shop. This place means a lot of things. Not just a place to grab some snacks.

BOURDAIN: For 50 years of paranoia and repression, teahouses were also the main forum for guarded and not-so guarded discussions of the daily news, where you tried to piece together the real stories behind the ludicrously chopped and censored newspapers. But carefully, of course, because informers and secret police were also heavily represented in these hotbeds of sedition and discontent.

(On camera): So given your profession, how have you managed to stay out of prison all of these years?

SAW: No, I was there.

BOURDAIN: Really? How long?

SAW: Two times.

BOURDAIN: Two times.

SAW: Once special Burma Police called me, hey, U Thiha Saw, would you please come into the office? We need to talk.

BOURDAIN: Right.

SAW: So I went over there, and -- I was there 89 days in prison. It was a very serious control that came with the first government.

BOURDAIN: Right.

SAW: First scrutiny and registration so --

BOURDAIN: That doesn't sound good.

SAW: And take a look at everything. They say, take this out, take it down or black this out, or just take the whole story out.

BOURDAIN: Magazines that would come into the country would -- they'd cut, literally cut out the pieces?

SAW: People under this kind of tight censorship, it will become more, I think, creative. Take a look, careful reading, something between the lines.

BOURDAIN: Right.

SAW: Know it is.

BOURDAIN: Well, something you were accused of, sending secret messages?

(Voice-over): In the back, a cauldron of salty little fish bubble over hardwood coals. Fingers work mountains of sweet bean, one of the fillings for the variety of pastries that are stuffed, shaped and put into an old wood stove oven.

In another corner, the heartening slap of fresh bread pressed against the clay wall of a tandoori and of course eggs bobs and spins in the magical held broth of fish, spice and herb.

(On camera): Mohinga? This I must have. Correct me if I'm wrong, if there's a national dish, a fundamental most beloved fish, would it be -- would it be this?

SAW: Yes, you take a look at all this stuff. These is Indian, these are Chinese, et cetera, but then mohinga is a local thing. And it's probably found in the city but also in the rural areas, too. It's fish based with some rice or noodles, sometimes we put in some crispies, like fried beans, or fried (INAUDIBLE). So these are some coriander leaves.

BOURDAIN: Yes.

SAW: And some lime.

BOURDAIN: Sprinkle some in here. Good textures. Particularly in the light of Obama's recent visit, these are interesting times. Significant changes for the first time in 50 years.

SAW: Yes. That's one thing that's quite significant. You take a look around, all kinds of people, all age groups. I think a couple of years ago, people would be talking about politics, you toned down.

BOURDAIN: Right.

SAW: And you (INAUDIBLE). But nowadays, people are just more outspoken. The government is much more open. They also are relaxing the rules about censorship. August 20th, we were called into the PSRD office, many publishers and editors, and the director general of the (INAUDIBLE), the boss, OK, 48 years and 20 days of censorship is gone. That's it.

BOURDAIN: Feel good?

SAW: Yes. That's what we've been waiting for so many years.

BOURDAIN: I love the answer. It's a careful yes.

SAW: Yes. First people in the country, we have some doubt about it. OK, is it real? The changes and the reforms? But as now it's about a couple of years. And then now people starting to believe, OK, maybe it's real. The process is still very young, but it's still possible. When the generals stop and say, OK, enough and enough, let's turn back or let's stop. I'm optimistic about the changes and the reforms. But you're still cautiously optimistic.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): In Yangon, motor bikes are outlawed. Why is a matter of much rumor and speculation, so it's the bus for me. Something seems almost out of sync. Not too long ago, even filming here officially as an open professional Western film crew, would have been unthinkable.

In 2007, a Japanese journalist was shot point-blank and killed filming a street demonstration. Be seen talking to anybody with a camera and there would likely be a knock on your door in the middle of the night. Yet so far confronted with our cameras, a few smiles, and mostly indifference at worst, shocking considering how recently the government has started to relax its grip.

MA THANEGI, LOCAL FOOD WRITER: We love to eat. And don't forget for 15 years, we were under two dictatorships, and officially under socialism. There were not a lot of things to do. But you know, cook and get shampoo and eat.

BOURDAIN: This is Ma Thanegi, a famous and very controversial figure in public life.

(On camera): Myanmar or Burma?

MA THANEGI: Myanmar, because that's the original name since the 13th century.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): This Ma Thanegi, like U Thiha Saw, has also spent time in prison. But emerging after three years, she became in the minds of many an apologist for the regime. Fairly or not, I leave to others.

MA THANEGI: Sometimes, outside, I just act as if, you know, it's only after the military junta went away that, you know, things happen, especially with the state like (INAUDIBLE).

BOURDAIN: But her many well-known books on the culinary traditions of Myanmar make her a compelling advocate for Burmese cuisine.

(On camera): So you're very passionate about the cooking and the cuisine here and the --

MA THANEGI: Of course. It's just that I like to eat. And I eat like a pig.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): This is Yangon's Feel restaurant.

MA THANEGI: Salads I think are the best of our food. I'm going to order a lot of salads you haven't had. You know, it's good to be like sort of a tasting thing.

BOURDAIN: It was pig head salad with kaffir lime leaf, long beans salad with sesame and fish sauce. Penny leaf salad, even this salad of Indian-style samosa.

(On camera): Everything is out there at the same time. MA THANEGI: Yes.

BOURDAIN: No first court or second course?

MA THANEGI: No. No, no, no. If I'm invited to a friend's house, the table would be covered with dishes.

BOURDAIN: Right.

MA THANEGI: Covered.

BOURDAIN: And it's really about the interaction between a lot of colors, textures and flavors in one dish or --

MA THANEGI: Different.

BOURDAIN: Different.

MA THANEGI: Yes.

BOURDAIN: Wow, I'm in love. That's good.

MA THANEGI: Yes. Thank you.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): And of course, there's the maddeningly delicious condiments and pickles of which to make each dish your own.

MA THANEGI: You make a lot of different combinations with each mouthful.

BOURDAIN (on camera): This is something very confusing in general in this part of the world, everyone eats everything differently to very much to their taste.

MA THANEGI: Anything goes.

BOURDAIN: Anything goes.

MA THANEGI: Every mouthful, you can make a different flavor.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Credit cards accepted almost nowhere. Cash machines, uh-uh. Wifi? Internet? Rare. 3G , you've got to be kidding. If you need to exchange money here, only crisp, absolutely new $100 bills accepted. In Myanmar, it's another older world.

Oh, and what's up with this?

(On camera): With all kissing sounds, that smooching, kissing, you know, sound that you're hearing all over the place? My wife would have been in like 10 fights so far. Sorry, who are you smooching at? Bitch.

(Voice-over): This is how you summon a waiter in Myanmar. I know. I know. Try that at Hooters, and you would be rightly ejected. It takes some getting used to, for sure.

(INAUDIBLE) is a big noisy seafood house where fished prepared in the style of Yakan, the coastal province to the west named for the Yakan people. One of over 135 distinct ethnic groups around here.

(On camera): See, now we're talking. Prawn curry is one of those -- one of those things that we're told you've got to eat here. Prawns from the river, then tomato curry. Try this. Good sauce. That's good. That is some good shit, my friends. We shall know them by the number of their dead.

(Voice-over): Early morning in Yangon. Among the crush of commuters, shoppers, people trying to make a living, rise up the last remnants of empire. Faded, often crumbling, but still there after all these years. These are the offices, businesses, and public buildings of the British colonials.

The Sofaer building was once one of the swankest department stores in Rangoon. A century ago in Kipling's poem, "Mandalay," was beckoning the over-heated imaginations of a generation of young Englishmen. Here you could buy fine Egyptian cigarettes, French liqueurs. The floor tiles were shipped over from Manchester.

Now people live here. A half centuries of a pariah state has left very few of these buildings in good repair. And there are divergent views on whether to preserve them. For many a reminder of colonial subjugation, for others, a vest inch of a golden time.

These days in Myanmar in the streets, on the docks, it's all about moving forward. In an economy ripe to explode if things continue trending in their current direction, the busy hustle and bustle of Yangon's port appears even busier today as workers prepare for the oncoming holiday.

PHILIP LAJAUNIE, FRIEND: Hey, Chef. How are you doing?

BOURDAIN: It figures, doesn't it?

LAJAUNIE: It does. Welcome to Myanmar.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Philip Lajaunie, owner and proprietor of my old restaurant Les Halles.

(On camera): It seems only natural that you'd be in Burma, Myanmar at the same time as me.

(Voice-over): Back before anything, before I wrote the book that changed my life from broke ass utility grave chef to whatever it is I am today, I'd never been to Asia until this guy sent me to Japan, and got me hooked on a continent.

LAJAUNIE: There we go.

BOURDAIN (on camera): Oh, nice. Chicken head, yes.

LAJAUNIE: That is the perfect mood awakener. BOURDAIN: Yes.

(Voice-over): Philip travels constantly. He's been bouncing around Asia for decades. Like all good travelers he's relentlessly curious, and without fear or prejudice.

LAJAUNIE: It's fantastic.

BOURDAIN: It makes perfect sense then that over cold brew and chicken necks in the port of Yangon, Philip is the one joining me to explore this particular moment in Myanmar.

LAJAUNIE: That's the (INAUDIBLE).

BOURDAIN (on camera): It is going to be a party.

LAJAUNIE: Yes.

BOURDAIN: Full moon party tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

What's that means, we have no idea.

LAJAUNIE: We don't know. There's only one way to find out, I suppose. It sounds like a party.

BOURDAIN: It gets crazy from now on.

(Voice-over): It's Kason Day, Full Moon Day, a holiday marking the end of the rainy season. And today marks the beginning of three days of breakout the crazy. Giant speakers compete for attention. Everybody cheerfully oblivious to the distortion. Cotton candy, trinkets, tube socks, just like a New York street fair, but with infinitely better food.

(On camera): These are the little birds?

LAJAUNIE: Yes. These guys are really good. Just flying -- this morning.

BOURDAIN: I'll tell you, it's the backbone of every street fair in the world, isn't it? Deep fried food.

LAJAUNIE: That's right. And here they also have the little butter where they break a quail egg in it. One shot, it's pretty good. All right. This is so tasty. Much greasy than I thought it would be. And quite delicate.

BOURDAIN: Anytime you tell me crispy little bird, I'm all over it.

LAJAUNIE: Good beak, too.

BOURDAIN: Good beak.

LAJAUNIE: Crispy and tender. BOURDAIN: Oh, and they have rides.

(Voice-over): Check this out. OK. It's a Ferris wheel, but the power source, not unusual for these parts, is not electric, it ain't gas.

(On camera): Oh, man, are you kidding me?

(Voice-over): It's human power.

LAJAUNIE: Yes. See it to believe it.

BOURDAIN: An absolutely insanely dangerous closely choreographed process of first getting the the giant heavily laden wheel in motion and then getting it up to top speed and keeping it there.

(On camera): Wow. Look at this thing tilting out, too.

LAJAUNIE: Another break. Then it goes the other way.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Note the footwear, by the way. And it's not just this one, every coming blocks bigger and bigger Ferris wheels, each one with its own troupe of acrobatic spinners. For sure, going for a ride is tempting, but --

(On camera): CNN host implicated in death of four underage carnies. The thing just came off the hinges the next thing you know it's rolling down the street and sending those kids flying. If I had any idea, I never would have taken the ride, says Bourdain. No, I don't think so.

(Voice-over): Hard making a buck, but again and again, the seats are loaded with smiling families, the team climbs aboard and the circus begins again.

(On camera): Good luck, may you return safely with all of your limbs intact.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Next day in the Full Moon Festival. Whether you're looking out the window at a rural village or at the streets of Yangon, what's happening is probably pretty similar, a tableau of dancing, body painting, car mounted speakers blasting. But it's also three days of merit accruing, the practice of performing charitable or otherwise good works in the hopes of jacking up your karma.

Money trees are paraded around, pinwood cash donations for months. Free banquets and feasts are held. And many moments of spiritual reflection. The majority of people here practice Tera Vata Buddhism, the oldest, most conservative form of the religion, which simply puts, asserts that existence is pretty much a continuous cycle of suffering through birth, death and rebirth.

(On camera): Noisy.

ZARNI BO, ACTIVIST/LOCAL ASTROLOGER: Very noisy. Very noisy, yes.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): The Morning Star Teahouse where I've come, well, for a couple of reasons. Reason one, the must-have bone deep, old school favorite around here, La Pet Tuk. The salad of fermented tea leaves. I know, that does not sound good, but you'd be wrong to think that.

Take the fermented tea leaves, add cabbage, tomatoes, lots and lots of crunchy bits like toasted peanuts, season with lime and fish sauce.

(On camera): This is absolutely delicious.

ZARNI BO: You like it?

BOURDAIN: Oh, yes. It's fantastic.

ZARNI BO: Yes, yes, fantastic.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Simple, delicious, things not to be taken for granted if you've been in and out of the joint like this guy, Zarni Bo, activist, astrologer and three times convict.

(On camera): You know, everyone I've met in this country so far, in fact, has been to prison.

ZARNI BO: Yes. This happens again and again for us in Myanmar.

BOURDAIN: For almost six years?

ZARNI BO: Six years. Nearly six years. All the judgments are made by the kangaroo court and navy, army, and the air force. These three officials sitting all together, they read off, this is your sentence.

BOURDAIN: Right.

ZARNI BO: It happens only minutes, like that.

BOURDAIN: What is life like inside prison?

ZARNI BO: Nice, nice, very nice.

BOURDAIN: I have a hard time believing that.

ZARNI BO: Very nice. We can talk to each other, you know, say something, use a mirror to look at each other.

BOURDAIN: Access to books?

ZARNI BO: No books. No writing things, no paper. No, nothing at all. A mat and a blanket and a plate and a bowl.

BOURDAIN: Right.

ZARNI BO: Only these are things that we possess.

BOURDAIN: How is the food? ZARNI BO: Think about that.

BOURDAIN: The food in prison?

ZARNI BO: Soup. Rice with pea soup. Only one meat meal for a week. That's on Thursday. You know that in prison, in ancient prison, all the fishes -- nobody, only the head and the tail. No middle part.

(LAUGHTER)

BOURDAIN: So there is hope for this country, in your view. Yes?

ZARNI BO: Yes, yes. Especially with the Buddhists believe how to live in situations, dictators, political passion, or even discrimination, everything is happening to us, but the Buddhists say, OK, that's a past life now, even if you do something, you can make something really good.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): There's something pretty cool about meeting people who have been for so long unable to speak. Now so unguarded about their hopes and their feelings.

Sizzling meats, the clink of beer glasses, ringing bicycle bells. This is Yangon's 19th Street. Does Yangon rock? Can it rock?

DARKO, LEAD SINGER, SIDE EFFECT ROCK BAND: Nine years, really like a must-go place when you are in Yangon.

BOURDAIN: Meet Burmese punk rockers Side Effect, and lead singer Darko.

DARKO: You can come here any time. There will be lots of people like here.

BOURDAIN (on camera): So if you sit here long enough, you'll see every musician in town?

(LAUGHTER)

DARKO: Yes, you can say that.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): The citywide curfews used to mean close your doors at 11:00 p.m. Most shops and restaurants still close early but not here on 19th Street, where you can eat barbecue late into the night.

(On camera): Wow. What do we have here? Grilled tofu?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is pork tail.

BOURDAIN: Pork tail. Yes. This is barbecue is awesome.

(Voice-over): These young men show exactly how determined you've got to be to rock, especially in Burma.

DARKO: I like to say my early influence was Nirvana, and then (INAUDIBLE), and stuff like that.

BOURDAIN (on camera): What American bands do you hate?

DARKO: Creed.

BOURDAIN: Yes.

DARKO: Yes.

BOURDAIN: They are like the worst band in the history of, like, the world. So what's it like having an indie band in Myanmar? Difficult?

DARKO: For sure, sure. Yes. Before you record a song, so you know like when you've got the lyrics, you have to submit the lyrics, so they're going to censor it, they're going to check it. And even sometimes they will, you know, suggest to you some words to change.

BOURDAIN: That must be funny.

DARKO: Very funny, I'll tell you, you know.

BOURDAIN: Now is that still the case?

DARKO: No, it's not like that any more. They're not going to censor you, but it's going to be kind of risky. You don't know what's going to happen to you if you write and sing something wrong.

BOURDAIN: So let me ask this. If all your dreams came true, where would you want to play?

DARKO: Really? New York City.

BOURDAIN: You want to go to New York City?

DARKO: Yes. My dream is to be strong, so that's why -- what I'm -- what I keep telling my band mates. Come on, be strong. Have faith.

BOURDAIN: I hope people reach out to you. Because making roll and roll is hard enough. A truly independent rock and roll is even harder. And I'm guessing that making it here is harder still. So, gentlemen, you deserve some success. People should hear you.

DARKO: Yes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAJAUNIE: So you hear the sleeping car lost a wheel.

BOURDAIN (on camera): The what?

LAJAUNIE: The sleeping car lost a wheel. And the dining car so we get --

BOURDAIN: No, we lost the dining car, I hear.

LAJAUNIE: We lost the dining car, but even our original sleeping car lost a wheel. So we just have to hope for the best.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): The Night Express to Bagan. Six hundred kilometers of what will turn out to be kidney-softening travel by rail, but Bagan, Myanmar's ancient capital, I've been told, is a must- see.

LAJAUNIE: The true old English experience. The engine is a French engine from the '70s.

BOURDAIN: We've been told it's a somewhat uncomfortable 10-hour trip.

(On camera): So really the question on this end of the journey is come back on the train or flying coffin?

(Voice-over): Mishaps on both Burmese planes and trains are not, shall we say, unheard of.

(On camera): The widow-maker express.

LAJAUNIE: That is the choice. That may be the signal to depart at some point.

BOURDAIN: Yes. All aboard. Whoa. We're moving. Here we go.

LAJAUNIE: Here we go. That's it. We are at cruising speed.

BOURDAIN: Really? This is cruising speed? We can literally outrun this thing.

LAJAUNIE: We could. Jog ahead, have a nice meal in some, you know, recommended restaurant.

BOURDAIN: We could catch up with it.

LAJAUNIE: With a digestive walk. Here we go. This is stop number one of 75.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Heading north, the scenery opens up. The space between things gets wider, more pastoral, and more beautiful. Looking around at my fellow passengers, it could be hard to distinguish between the 135-plus ethnic groups that make up the Burmese population. The very name, Burma, refers actually to only one of these groups.

What they all seem to have in common, however, is a tonika, a face paint in sun block made from tree bark that masks many of their faces. It's ubiquitous here. At first jarring to see, it quickly becomes something you get used to and take for granted.

Yangon's gravitational pull broken, and with darkness falling, the train picks up speed. At times terrifyingly so.

LAJAUNIE: If this thing is going to derail at some point. They have lost how many wheels yesterday? On this one train? So truly it's about being in the right car, the one that keeps its wheels. BOURDAIN: Derailments or rail splits, as they are referred to here, is somewhat more benign sounding occurrence that say rolling off the tracks into a rice paddy, are not uncommon. And one can't help wondering what the engineer and conductor are thinking as the train speeds heedlessly on faster and faster.

LAJAUNIE: I mean, it must be, what, like 40, 50 miles per hour at this point.

BOURDAIN (on camera): I wonder if anyone has ever flown right out of their seat out the window.

LAJAUNIE: (INAUDIBLE), sure.

BOURDAIN: You don't want to be, like, holding a lab dog.

LAJAUNIE: Or a baby or anything. I mean.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Try pissing in the bathroom and find yourself launched straight up into the ceiling, bringing to a rude conclusion what was already an omni-directional experience.

(On camera): It's smooth now. It's very relaxing.

LAJAUNIE: What kind of beer did you have? I want the same.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAJAUNIE: One thousand?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One thousand.

LAJAUNIE: OK. Done. Well, this is breakfast.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Nearly 19 hours into our 10-hour trip and the Night Express to Bagan lurches and bounces onward over old and poorly maintained track.

(On camera): And fly back to New York for breakfast.

LAJAUNIE: I have time.

BOURDAIN: What's in yours?

LAJAUNIE: Carrots.

BOURDAIN: Potato.

LAJAUNIE: How do you make good pretty. Look at this, a bouquet of fish. Indeed. This is it. This is the plain of Bagan.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Out the window, the modern world seems to fade away, then disappear all together, like the last century never happened, or even the century before that. We're traveling across the largest mainland nation in Southeast Asia. But it should be pointed out that we are still within the confines of the tourist triangle. Areas permissible for travel.

Whole sectors of this country, much of it, in fact, are off-limits. Simply put, there is shit going on they do not want you to see. A low intensity conflict with the ethnic Kachin tribe would be one of them. A wave of persecution and death in the Thu Kine state. The country may be opening up at its center but all along the edges is waging a desperate war to hang on to the status quo. Needless to say, the status quo is not good.

LAJAUNIE: All right. Bagan, here we come.

BOURDAIN: A thousand years ago Bagan was the capital for a long line of Burma kings. It's the sort of place where the old coexists with the even older. As elsewhere in this part of the world, in many of the Buddhist temples here far older animist, spirit-based beliefs coexist with more recent Buddhism.

And in Myanmar, worship of the gnats is wide spread. Nat, as I understand it, are more like Greek gods, formed as humans, demigods, spirits, often with very human qualities and failings.

Dance performances pay homage to the individual nats, performers claiming to actually channel them, bringing about, one hopes, a beneficial spiritual possession. But I'm not just here for a nat pue (ph). I have a list. Things to eat in Myanmar. And this is one of them. Chicken curry. And from roadside joints like this nestled among the temple ruins, you're more than likely to catch a very enticing whiff.

(On camera): Just delicious. Spicy, but not to the point that you want to scream out for mercy, but (INAUDIBLE).

(Voice-over): Slow simmered curry served with a side of sour soup made from rozelle leaves. With it, you get fried ground chillis, pickled bean sprouts, you get the idea.

(On camera): These relishes, these dippy type things, it's like really interesting salad, but I'm not that really a salad guy. The salads here are -- they're happening. Spicy, sour, salty, savory, just delicious. Delicious. A plethora of textures and flavors.

Thought a lot of their food. Clearly light thing, like meeting people. Think a lot about those (INAUDIBLE) thousands of flavors, colors, and textures. The best restaurant in the country so far, by the way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon. Here are your headlines this hour.

John Kerry again offers open talks to North Korea on their nuclear program, but only if they make the first move. Kerry's in Tokyo right now. A North Korean government statement called the offer an American trick. It's still anyone's guess if the North Koreans are going to launch a missile in the coming hours or days. A former lawman is being held on a $3 million bond in Texas. Eric Williams used to be a Justice of the Peace in Kaufman County. That's where two prosecutors were shot dead in recent weeks. Deputies went to Williams' house with a search warrant, tied to the murders and arrested him. They are not saying if Williams' arrest is directly connected to the case.

Australian Adam Scott won the Masters Golf Tournament today in a sudden death playoff with Argentina's Angel Cabrera. Scott sank a 12- foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to capture the first major title. He's the first Australian ever to win the Masters. Tiger Woods finished tied for four -- fourth, four strokes back.

Those are your headlines this hour. I'm Don Lemon, keeping you informed, CNN, the most trusted name in news.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): You'd expect this, an ancient city of nearly unparalleled size and beauty to be overrun with tourists, souvenir shops, snack bars, tours on tape, but, no.

LAJAUNIE: Oh, this is stunning.

BOURDAIN: You'll encounter some Western travelers at Bagan's temple sites for sure, but generally speaking they are a hardy bunch. Even the bus tours here are not for the feint of heart or weak of spirit. But for the most part you're far more likely to bump into a goat than a foreigner.

LAJAUNIE: This is so beautiful, so much like an ode to human, you know, beliefs and adoration and worshipping and --

BOURDAIN (voice-over): Slave labor.

LAJAUNIE: And slave labor.

BOURDAIN: I'm thinking you build these many temples, thousands of them in a relatively short period of time, chances are, somebody was working for less than minimum wage, let's put it that way.

LAJAUNIE: For sure. We could fly here. Look at that.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): A millennia ago in a period of just under 250 years, over 4,000 structures like this were built here. They say that a Burma king, Anawrahta, began this project after a conversion to Tera Vata style Buddhism.

(On camera): They started a new temple like every 14 days.

(Voice-over): Over 3,000 pagodas, temples and monasteries remain today. Inside almost every one of them, a Buddha figure, each one different.

LAJAUNIE: And I like how integrated it is with the trees, pastures.

BOURDAIN (on camera): Actually, funny you should mention that. People used to live here, but the government came along in the '80s I believe and relocated. It was a mass relocation project so any homes, anything, it was understood that this is a good, you know, just a tourist bucks here. They've relocated the entire population.

We're in one of the first mass waves of tourists. European tourists have been coming here in relatively small numbers for a long time, but the floodgates have certainly opened. They are building hotels like crazy around this area, what's called a tourist triangle.

LAJAUNIE: What is this here? This is a nice color.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): As Myanmar begins its shift towards accommodating increasing tourism and a service economy to go with it, there will be adjustments. There will be, of course, a downside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How might you pay?

BOURDAIN (on camera): What's that going to mean? How will Burmese react to all the good and the evils that come with tourism?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, Mister, what about you? You buy one? OK.

LAJAUNIE: Perfect.

BOURDAIN: It's going to mean mobility, it's going to mean prosperity for some. It will mean a lot of bad things, too. It will mean prostitution. It will mean hustling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buy one for the children.

LAJAUNIE: OK. And you too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody is selling to you. You buy plenty. You buy plenty. But you don't postcard. That's not fair. You buy postcard.

LAJAUNIE: But I don't need the postcard.

BOURDAIN (voice-over): We're told the kids are dropping out of school to do this. The double-edged sword of the service economy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to buy postcard for only $5, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10.

BOURDAIN (on camera): What I'm amazed is how friendly and open people are with us, and it's very easy for me to sit here and say whatever I want about the government, right? Me can go home, you know. Our lives will go on. We don't pay the price for that show. Everybody who helped us could very well pay that price.

It should be pointed out that a lot of people did not. A lot of people were very nice to us but said, look, I just -- I've already been in jail, you know. I really don't want to go back. It's a very real concern what happens to the people we leave behind. You know, one would think you can't win's one freedom, you know, they have tasted freedom. Well, you know, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube, you know. There's no doubt about that.

(Voice-over): But for the moment at least things seem to be moving in the right direction, a country closed off to most for so long, sleeping, a 50-year nightmare for many of its citizens, finally, may be waking up. To what? Time will tell.