This is an excerpt from an article published in the online travel journal, Roads and Kingdoms. The full story can be found here.
My colleagues and I raise our glasses and pour the fermented rice wine, which they jokingly call ‘White Label’, down our throats.
“Safa malaf means to health and wealth,” they tell me and my throat burns and we laugh.
There are ten of us squeezed into a cluttered bedroom that sleeps five men on hard wooden boards. We are in the Ta’ang Students and Youth Union (TSYU) office in Lashio in the Northern Shan State of Burma. There is a community feel to the TSYU office, which doubles as a boarding house. Bedrooms can be found in attics and basements and behind little doorways, and when all the beds are full, mats are laid out for guests. My drinking companions are Ta’ang men who are all aged under 30.