Temples in Bagan. Fishermen on Inle Lake. I’m sure you’ve heard about these things by now. Mentions of the beauty and allure of Myanmar is all over – I even spotted it on Snapchat the other day. It’s one country that is still holding on to some of its mystery, and adventurous travelers are beginning to flock to this curious place. Many areas are still forbidden to foreigners. Travel within the country can be long, arduous and generally nonsensical. But following the whole Yangon > Mandalay > Bagan > Inle route (as I did) can make you feel a little less badass and a little more like…well, every other person who obtains the visa.
But that’s ok.
In Myanmar, it’s about the people. Everyone wanted to speak to me, to feed me, to have me take their photo. They wanted to talk about Obama and democracy and teach me words in Burmese. They wanted to know my story and tell me theirs. They wanted to help me get my motorbike free from deep, shoe-sucking mud. I’ve never been in another country that felt as warm and welcoming as Myanmar.
Sure, it’s also a physically beautiful country. But the people are what made a lasting impression on me. This is why travel is so important – especially because of the direction our world seems to be headed. The vast majority of people you will meet, wherever you are in this world, are GOOD. Yes, Myanmar may be atypically friendly. I’m aware not every country will feel the same. Even living in Thailand, “the land of smiles,” doesn’t feel like that much of the time. But good, kind people are everywhere. A lot of them probably have less than you do. They likely worship a different god or many or none. They look different. But they’re all human. No matter where you are, you’ll meet imperfect people. We all have the capacity to do bad things, to be intolerant, to be close-minded, to judge harshly and place blame. But we also have the capacity to be good and kind and open. Love is not always easy. But I promise you, it’s worth it. And if you need an extra dose, try Burma;)
– Here are just a few photos from my week in Myanmar. More to come. –