When I am asked to compare Thai and Burmese societies I sometimes make the idle, and potentially misleading, observation that Burma is a more intellectual place. Reading seems to be a bigger part of society. Indeed, ideas and issues often appear to be given far greater prominence. Speculative explanations that support this observation are many and varied. But I’m not even entirely convinced that this observation is exactly right.

Can New Mandala readers help? How would you describe Burma’s intellectual culture? And how does it compare to other places, such as Thailand? Is Burma really a heavy reading place?