Leaving Myanmar

During my travels in Asia this year, everyone I met that had gone to Myanmar only had rave reviews, and it quickly became a “must-visit” country for me on this trip, ahead of other countries in Southeast Asia. Although I had hyped up coming here so much, I actually made no concrete plans and I had no guidebook (take that Lonely Planet!), instead relying on the recommendations and advice from other travellers I’d meet and whatever I could find online through very spotty internet connections.

In my 25 days in Myanmar, I’ve scraped my knee falling off a motorbike, fell into a moat, explored mystifying, historic ruins, went on some beautiful treks and slept on thin mattresses on floors of modest homes in hill tribe villages whose names I’d never heard of and already don’t remember, and as always, interacted with so many beautiful people.

kids in hilltribe village on trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake

kids in hilltribe village on trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake

It’s been a great time to experience Myanmar during low season and at its current course in history. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to visit this country of amazingly friendly people, and can only hope that if I get the opportunity to return here one distant day, the generosity and sincerity of Myanmar won’t be forsaken in the name of tourism and development.

Monks at U Bein Bridge, Amarapura

Monks at U Bein Bridge, Amarapura

And now I’m back in Bangkok for a few days, enjoying a few days of rest and relaxation before exploring another country in Southeast Asia…

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A lesson in class

Two days ago in Mandalay, I literally sunk to a new low and had the most embarrassing moment of my life (at least this year).

What I’ll write is that when you’re getting from one temple to another and you think about crossing (what you think is) a wide ditch against the cries of some Myanmar people who try to direct you 10 metres over to your left to a bamboo footpath, follow their advice! Because the ditch was actually a moat and I ended up knee deep in murky, disgusting, sewer-like water while fighting to stay on my feet.

A couple locals helped me up while I struggled to maintain my balance. One man repaired my flip-flops, and another man took me across the street to a restaurant where he poured water from a big bucket over my pants, my legs, my feet, and my hands. A girl that worked there gave me soap so I could disinfect. There were a lot of onlookers and while I was laughing at myself at the absurdity of my situation, they just smiled politely and wished me well. I got a lesson in humility but I learned even more about class. Helpless and vulnerable, I was the recipient of mercy and compassion.

When you travel, you remember a day for different reasons – sometimes, it’s being somewhere indescribably beautiful; sometimes, it’s doing something you’ve never done before. In this instance, it’s because of how I was treated by these people of Myanmar and one more reason why I love this country.