How to summarize two weeks in Burma?
Well, this incredible country more than exceeded every expectation. We wandered the friendly streets of Yangon (Rangoon), ate lots of spicy curries and sipped creamy milk tea roadside, sat for over an hour admiring the majesty of sunset at the astoundingly golden Shwedagon Pagoda, and took an overnight train in our very own sleeper car through the gloriously green, monsoon soaked Burmese countryside.
We spent two days biking around the ancient city of Bagan, climbing endless temples and pagodas, taking in sunsets and boundless views without a single other tourist in site. We sat in village homes and watched 85-year-old grandmas puff on enormous homemade cigars, observed countless monsoon rains come and go, got soaked through to our skins and were consistently astounded by the kindness of the Burmese people – from the small children who called out ‘Hello!’ every time they biked by, to the truck-loads of farmers and shepherds who waved, and the monks who nodded and smiled.
Everywhere we traveled in Myanmar, we felt so incredibly welcomed.
We rode in precarious tri-shaws around the old capital of Mandalay and befriended a young monk who took us on a tour of his monastery and invited us to tea. We met countless fascinating people, spoke in quiet voices with locals about Myanmar history and the country's political climate, attended a most amusing comedy show (and political commentary) performed by the Moustache Brothers in the front room of their home, and bounced in a horse cart through the ancient ruins of Ava.
We hired a long boat for the day in Inle Lake, spending long, luxurious hours floating through the north country’s floating gardens and markets, visited a stunning local winery and imagined for one short second that we’d been transported back to Napa Valley, read countless books as we sat on our veranda watching rain storms come and go, and discussed how we could possibly put into words what makes this country so completely unlike anywhere else we’ve traveled in Asia.
Traveling in Burma was a true experience, and while I could never deign to choose a real favorite of everywhere we’ve traveled so far this year, these weeks will very well live on as perhaps two of the most unforgettable – for all the reasons stated above, and also because mid-morning last week, seated atop a temple looking out over the thousands of ruins that dot Bagan, Jesse proposed, I said yes, cried a bit and got globs of sunscreen in my eyes, and we spent the rest of the trip dancing around in our own little giddy excitement. We’re getting married!
Myanmar will always hold a special little place in our hearts. This country sucks you in, and it’s the first place we’ve left feeling absolutely certain that one day we will find a way to come back.