New series! Each week, we’ll share little moments, thoughts and stories with you.
Just got back to our room in our hostel (after climbing 68 stairs to get there). It’s a tiny square room with no windows and a bed, but it has AC and that’s all that matters.
We’re 24 hours into Myanmar (Burma) and it’s a fascinating place. Walking around the busy streets of Yangon today we saw the women with thanaka cream on their faces, the men wearing longyis, seriously antique-looking trishaws and decaying buildings. There are very few Westerners here and I’ve already had a few interesting interactions with the locals. A young couple smiled and waved to us (I guess it’s just the novelty of seeing some tourists?) …a man walked up to me and tested out a few English phrases (good evening, how are you, how old are you) and then held out his hand for a handshake before abruptly walking away…and a group of four young boys thought it’d be funny to throw some firecrackers at my feet (grrrrr). Don’t worry I’m fine – they were just little poppers.
At this point, it’s nice to know we can make it on our own in a “harder” place like this, without being on a group tour. The pros of independent travel outweigh the cons. Just the freedom to be able to wander around and check out whatever little corners of the city we want, for as long as we want – we are completely in control.
Just before our plane landed in Myanmar the stewardess announced, “if you have traveled to Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria, or Sierra Leone within the last three months you must report to the quarantine officer upon arrival.” We’ve been seeing signs around airports about Ebola and we’ve seen the news back home that the government is strongly considering ramping up screening for Ebola at major airports in the United States but not considering a travel ban. It’s so awful and frightening what’s happening.
On a happier note, the entire Indonesian football (under-19) team was on the flight with us and was greeted as celebrities on arrival. Fans were waving flags, cheering and taking photos. The team is playing in the Asian Football Confederation Championship tournament, hosted by Myanmar this year.
Our time in Laos ended on both a high and low note, consistent with the ups and downs of travel we’ve experienced all along the way. The low note – we had planned for various reasons to do a boat trip on the Mekong on our last day, only we both fell sick the night before. Root had a cold, and I got sick (again!) from some street food. The high note – an amazing cooking class where we got to prepare five different local dishes. We’ve been so fortunate to taste different foods around the world and yet at the same time I’m looking forward to just being able to cook my own meals at home again. Hopefully by the time we’re back I’ll have picked up some new skills and inspiration!
Till next time,