National Geographic : 1943 Oct
Burma: Where India and China Meet U. S. Army Signal Corps Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell Chats with Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek General Stilwell, commander of U. S. forces in southeastern Asia, led the Fifth and Sixth Chinese armies in the Battle of Burma early in 1942. Forced to withdraw, he has vowed to return. General Chiang became provisional President on the death of the aged President Lin on August 1, 1943. Life was interesting in Meiktila. Winslow and I once started out to the porch swing to take the air in the cool of the evening. Half way out we decided to return for a lantern because of the danger from snakes. Sure enough, just under the swing on the veranda was a big cobra. He reared erect and spread his hood. Look ing for a weapon, I remembered a baseball bat in my study just off the veranda. I reached it through an open window and we finished the cobra. When the Burmese speak of their corner of Asia, they call it "Shwey Daw Pyee," the Golden Country. In November, when the rice fields, lush green from May until October, turn a golden brown over the great Irrawaddy Valley, the country is truly golden. It is golden in another way. In every Bur mese city and hamlet rise gold-spired pa godas and monasteries from which, each sunrise, saffron-robed priests of Buddha go forth on their rounds of the villages. As we became better acquainted with the country, we made journeys afoot and afloat, by train and by steamer, from Cape Negrais and Moulmein to the borders of French Indo china, India, and Yunnan. Every year we sandwiched in a tonic vacation by car, foot, and mule pack train among the hospitable people and rulers of the blue Shan hills. Month of Tagu, Small Boys' Delight One year I passed the hot season in Meik tila superintending the erection of a new build ing. April came in like a blast furnace and went out like a Turkish bath. But a pleasant interlude was provided by the Thingyan fes tival during the Burmese month of Tagu. These are the best days in the year for Burmese small boys. Everyone must be splashed with water. Boys in high glee douse buses and their passengers. Squirt guns, water pistols, and tire pumps are in demand.