Burmese Days – Part Two

Day 11

After getting drunk yesterday i paid for it today. Vomiting my spicy noodle soup mixed with pseudo Fanta five minutes after breakfast. Noodles still hanging from my throat whilst others were leaving. What a waste of a dollar. Walking through beautiful countryside, through fields along the river bank, towards the hot springs amongst the hills. Women bathing in the water, washing clothes, foraging for food. Young monks playing in the fields looked totally care free, chasing each other in their burgundy robes amongst fields of plowed brown’s and a multitude of greens. Beautiful to observe, especially from a pool of hot water lying on my back. Dragonfly’s landing all around, smoking cigarettes and just floating. Several hours passed and the sun began to head to its next destination.Walking back to the guest house we hitched a ride on the back of a tractor filled with straw. We drove through and old muslim grave yard, passed burning bodies in the open air. A plate of hot spicy veg finished off my day. Sleep. Minus the hangover a beautiful day – calm and warm.

Day 12

An early rise and a walk into the cold misty morning light. Armed with camera and the intentions to shoot the sun rise. I stop for a coffee where my host seems compelled to share his thoughts. He explained that people from the town are scared to go into the jungle. Many are captured by the military and ordered to pay large sums of money. Girls are taken hostage and their families asked to pay, in a way of profiting the government. He told me that six people this week have already been slaughtered. He said local people who used to work in silver and gold mines now have been replaced by machines. The metal is then sold to china – further money for the Burmese Government. He said the state was being raped of resources and that he was concerned for the people. What will the locals be left with? I wonder if tourism will take over like it has in so many Asian countries.

I spend the rest of the day wandering around temples hoping the facts aren’t true. In reality they probably are. Fact. So far away from myself. The taste the sound the comfort is gone. Susceptible but unaccustomed. No Kylie, no jalapeno no oregano and no thin soft my pillow. No phone, no family but beautiful worthwhile interactions that mean so much. Heading towards December i question so much. Empty in some ways but overflowing in others. To understand the difference is one of my biggest achievements, but it may take a little more time. Time is making me stronger, harder and more honest. Confident to say what i feel. Becoming less passive as my limbs are no longer full of green fuzz. My eyes are the most open they have been in a decade. And also maybe my heart.

Awake from a far to early slumber in a town that sleeps at sunset. A town where activity peaks in the late night barks and the monotonous clock tower chimes. Even strings of lights fizzle out at eight, inside empty. What to do? Pop a pill, avoid running dogs or try to sleep until the urge has subsided. Just sit, write and wait the long dark hours to wonder again at sunrise. Inhale the dark petrol streams of trucks and pretend it’s something more relaxing. Time to leave i think. Time to move on and have the new amuse me. A hard hour until the pill kicks in. A hard hour – all asleep but the dogs the trucks the clock. I may count the chimes until another day the same. Time to leave, the new calls my name.

Day 13

Warm tofu pre sunrise progressed to an invite to a temple and a vegetarian feast. The monastery floor was full of beautiful Burmese ladies with old-fashioned hair, well dressed sitting with their feet behind them, away from the giant brass Buddha on the altar. Buddha was joined by thirty plus monks, young and old, clad in the flowing bald finery. Heads freshly shaved like mine.

Sitting at the back i listened, meditated and joined the chants when i could. The deepest i have sunk into my body in seven years with the aid of breath and the energy in the room. The monks chanted and spoke for an hour. When the congregation joined in the sound became more melodic and harmonious. As it climaxed it reminded me of a collection of cats, meowing one almighty meow, facing buddha louder and louder. Then the feast ,which was accompanied by hundreds of smiles. An unexpected morning of love, the only downside being me throwing up the whole meal twenty minutes later. I think i have Burma belly, if such a thing exists. This however did not dampen my spirits.

Day 16

After being invited to a wedding and spending some time with the bride and groom i finally left Hsipaw. Fourteen hours on a bus, red and pink lights flashing. Left hand side at the back. The brightest red lamps every three rows shining flickering. Window down. Dust cool penetrating wind blowing my vest close to my nipples, exposing them occasionally. My scalp cheeks brow feeling the airs force from the gusts and the absence of hair. Another fourteen hours of black night Burma landscape and memories that will stay forever. A red glow inside but a black glow out. Under a soft woolen blanket, music pumping from the speakers with my love by my side. Can it get any better than this?


  1. Sam Roberts

    Looking forward to seeing you both and hearing your Burma stories in more detail – the sense of the country you give is amazing and makes me quite jealous 🙂 would love to be sharing your journey. skype us when you can – i’d like to come and meet u somewhere after you see ma & miss chuckle xx

  2. shellyshellyjeffrey

    Seems like your body in its experiences is having a total makeover, washing away the blues of yesterday and catapaulting you forward.
    I love hearing your unique account of your experiences, cant ever say theyre superficial like many of these package hols to Spain etc.!! lol
    Hope you return enlightened, burden free with a refreshing new spring in your step ;
    The Foundation Couse at Bishop has been mentioned, not sure if its defo. tho and Dani boy left our group.
    Miss You!!

  3. ruth connaughton

    HI Michael, As alwys love reading your comments. Won’t be able to now until after Christmas. Wherever you are, take care and enjoy the holiday and have a wonderful start to 2012. Ruth


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