KACHIN STATE — You can crunch the numbers, listen to the pundits and debate the credibility of the historic Nov. 8 general election all you want, but to join Aung San Suu Kyi on a four-day barnstorming campaign across Kachin State is to experience first-hand the political and social phenomenon that is the woman who leads Burma’s largest opposition party.
Flying into the Kachin State capital Myitkyina early on Friday, the National League for Democracy (NLD) chairwoman hit the ground running, with both a morning rally near the city center and an afternoon speech at Waingmaw Township to the southeast, each drawing thousands of NLD members, political acolytes and straight-out admirers.
Early the next day, she began a road trip across a large swathe of the far northern state. Covering hundreds of kilometers over two days, what began as a reasonably modest series of appearances at populated centers snowballed quickly into a rolling cavalcade of vehicles and motorcycles making impromptu stops and visits to towns and villages large and small. Suu Kyi and her entourage returned to Myitkyina on Sunday night in preparation for a flight farther south to Momauk, outside Bhamo, where she is expected to wrap up her whirlwind tour on Monday.
Despite the grueling pace, “The Lady,” as she is widely known, showed stamina, grace and patience on what could only be described as an arduous and somewhat unpredictable schedule.