Thank you for your genuine smiles and generosity.. Hope you will stay the same.
Some places grow into you more that others, it is what happened with Burma for me. I couldn’t really tell you why but this journey have been very special.
Day one, I rushed myself to Bagan to meet with other friends. I felt very warm and welcomed since i’ve landed in Mandalay, the road from the airport to downtown was in somehow out of space.. Hung out a couple of hours near by the bus station waiting for the next bus to Bagan, people and kids especially make you feel very comfortable. It is very pleasant, it opens you to your new environment.
Plan for Day two, watch the sunrise over Bagan’s pagoda.. ok sounds great !! but in fact it is where the magic happened..
Rough wake-up at 4.15am, it seems to be freezing cold inside of the room.. need loads of motivation to get up, then it all goes quick and 20min later you are all on push-bikes. It is still pitch black outside, few lanterns highlight the road for you. The ride last about 20min, then if you’re intoxicated as me you have a dirty fag if not you climb-up directly to the top of the temple, then you are set for the next hour or more.
It is a bit after 5am, first lights in the sky appear, a thick layer of fog fly few meters above the ground, you only can see few peaks pointing at the horizon. Few minutes later, the light become yellowy and a tiny orange point appears far in the horizon, part of the fog disappears with the heat of the sun rays.. The world is yellow, it has more temples and pagodas in the horizon that you can count, a light fog gives a mystical sense at the scenery, and suddenly air-balloons are flying over the temples. The scene last 30-40 minutes with beautiful changes of color in the sky and on the ground.. Everyone is amazed, like the first time you read J.Verne.
That was my first impression of the Republic of Myanmar, just a fairy world.. and the rest of my journey would confirm it.
The next day we were the 1st January 2014 and we would celebrate the first morning of this new year this way. Magical !!
The rest of my trip was amazing, loads of genuine encounters, beautiful people, marvelous landscapes and great moments. My partner in crime for the whole journey was a swiss girl, Sandra, the perfect companion. We met in the embassy in Bangkok, a couple of weeks earlier when doing our visa application, communication was ease, it has been a lot of fun.
I remember in Bagan on our 3rd day, we got lost looking for a lake, went quite off-tracks.. however we got lost and arrived in a village, kids screamed of fear at our vision. I “asked”, more accurately I mimed a man if i could take a photo of him with his cow.. how to say, it was picturesque.. he smiled, we did the photo, and then he friendlily invited us to his house. 30min later we knew the whole family and were sharing an awesome moment with them. The scene last few hours, we were close to know the whole village when we left, pockets full of peanuts and bananas. It is crazy what can happen when people are curious about each others, when they make an effort towards other. We couldn’t speak the same language, but we did exchange a lot. My entire journey in Burma I will have this feeling with me.
I remembered in Hsipaw, with Sandra we were invited to the Buddhist temple for a two hours session of meditation. It happened because Sandra spoke with the master monk in the morning while we were visiting the temple, they exchanged about meditation because she was very curious about it and when I joined them he invited us to come to the evening session. The place was small, for about twenty persons, it was hard to arrive unnoticed. We were a bit confused about the customs there, i think the lady in the front row felt it and invited us to come seat next to her. I can’t remember if we really spoke together but she guided us through the basic steps until the session started. The connexion and simultaneous disconnection between the mind and the body felt strange and was intense for me but i remember a safe environment where the energetic flow was open. The Buddhist prayer were sung creating a very deep vibration in the room, you could feel it was coming from the stomach, all this energy grounded to Earth that was forming this hypnotic sound. It felt great, in somehow i felt afterwards that those vibrations have past through my body and relieve tensions.. Interesting experience, I should look further into it one day..
The rich history of Burma and and a not so distant political dictatorial regime have empowered the people of the Republic of Myanmar, the country has a very strong soul. The people i met there were bright, open and curious for the most. It made it all very natural to converse with them, take pictures, exchange. I reckon the sooner the better is to visit the Republic of Myanmar.
In December 2015 will be the next Presidential election. Whatever its result, it will have a strong impact on the country and the tourism there.
My 7 favourites in Burma were,
- Sunrise in Bagan
- Stroll for hours the streets of Mandalay, be open to people, and rent a push-bike to go till U-Bein bridge to watch the sunset there. It gets crowded but still a beautiful show, the road from downtown till the bridge is full of marvelous things to see and temples to visit.
- 4 days trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake (recommended in December just before the harvest). Beautiful landscapes, red earth, green and purple trees, ancient tribes, naugthy kids and mystical sunrise are on the way.
- Green-tea leaves salad because it is so super good (trust me, go blind and try it. sorry not the kind of guy who takes pic of his food..)
- Hsipaw town and “Shan” villages around
- Train journey between Hsipaw and Pin Oo Lwin
- Few days rest in Inle Lake