Friday, May 22, 2009

Myanmar from the Top of the World - A Road Trip

There are places in the world where comfort won't take you.

My friends always kid me about my travels; that I choose rough and tumble over comfortable travel. But if comfort was my goal, I wouldn’t even have to leave the “comforts” of my room! I will grow a tummy and sport a beard and pick my teeth while watching dvds in my temperature-controlled room.

Yangon - a city living with the past

My travels have made me realize what a charmed life I’ve had. I am in fact a prince in my own little world; in my third-world existence. But there are places in the world far from the comforts of life as you know it - surreal places.

Like the back of a motorbike, with a gush of wind blowing against my face, combing my hair in bellows and random directions. I never ride motorbikes in my country. It is such a misplaced thought.
Like the humps at the back of a camel (see photo way down below).

Like the top of a minibus, with cargoes and men surrounding me. (below)

My seat up there...

A road trip outside Yangon (the former capital of Myanmar) – 2 hours of unbridled adrenaline rush – at least, for me, it was – didn’t prepare me to be sitting on top of a mini-bus. I was initially indignant about it. But minutes later, I clambered up the rails and plopped comfortably at the roof of my vehicle. I held tight to the side rails, almost crushing my fist with the gravity of a powerful grip. But as the vehicle slid past people, places, and anonymous temples and life at a distant corner of the world, I relaxed. I even managed to carefully take snaps from where I was – from the top of my world.

There are new places that a cloistered life won’t take me, and from such a vantage point at the top of a rundown minibus, I see the world in a different perspective.

National Highway, Myanmar

The countryside reveals places not in guidebooks...

Unnamed temples by the road side.

Toll gate

A scene at a rural market near Taukkyan. Notice the men wearing those skirt-like longyi.

Thanaka painted on children's faces... An american lady argued with me regarding the use of thanaka. She insisted that it was exclusively used by females - supposedly to make themselves beautiful. THIS photo is proof that she was speaking based on hot air! To think she supposedly went around the country! Either she was dreaming while going around or she closed her eyes most of time while visiting! Thanaka has several uses: cosmetic, cultural reasons and comfort - they feel cool to the face (like how a menthol feels in your tongue). They also protect the skin against the harsh sun.

So if you are reading this, I enjoin you to travel! Get out of your comfort zone. Step into anywhere new, exciting, peculiar, strange and unnerving. There is a huge world out there waiting for you.

Meander a curious corner of the world and see it like an
Eye in the Sky.

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