It has been about four months since my last update. This was because of the bad and almost non-existing internet connection in Myanmar and the severe censorship in China. But now, in Indonesia, I have the chance to try to catch up on all of our adventures. In the time since Cambodia (my last update) we've seen Bangkok, Myanmar, Laos and China. So, many stories to be shared! But one at a time. I will first try to describe our way to Myanmar by visiting Bangkok, afterwards capture our very special visit to Myanmar and in a different blog I'll try to put China into words.
Our trip to Myanmar started with a detour to Bangkok which was planned to bring us to Laos. But Laos had to wait for a few weeks. For us to endure maybe the most enchanting time of our trip in the land of many opposites.
First up, Bangkok: While entering the city at night, it kept unfolding itself. With its high reaching bright buildings and endless traffic. The trip towards Bangkok from Siem Reap could be called 'interesting' at least. For our soft seat bus was a sleeper bus filled with smelly stinky people who have been 'scenting' the bus for at least 14hrs before our entering. But if the smell of drunk men sleeping and sweating in a bus without aircon for about 14hrs straight wasn't enough, the bus company had decided to extend its services and shipped boxes filled with 'fresh' fish and its fluids. These were storaged where we were about to drop our bags (the bags still smell of this stink...). After two hours of driving and getting accustomed to this olfactory challenge there was a not to loud -bang- . The breaks supposedly didn't work, as didn't most of the gears. And the driver wasn't able to get the bus to stop in time not to crash into a tow truck. Though the sound wasn't very loud, the entire left side of the windshield was gone! Luckily the driver was only covered in glass but nobody got hurt. By this time we were about an hour from the border where we would change busses anyway. But this bus wouldn't go any further.. After two hours of waiting a new bus arrived. This was real good news, because we learned from some fellow travelers that it isn't an exception that when a crash happens they just leave the passengers by the side of the road to find their own transport from that point on. And for our friends it was much more intense, cause they were unlucky to kill somebody in the crash with their bus.
In Bangkok, though seeing most districts, we spend most of our time (in total about 6 days, going to and coming from Myanmar) in the big shopping malls of Siam, because of its cool air. The heat made your blood boil, and Bangkok being a busy city didn't help. For all the buildings and roads held on to the heat long after sundown. So we arranged everything needed for our visit to Myanmar and spend the rest of the time looking in on all the new developments in technology and visited a lot of bookstores and local stands for great coffee and delicious snacks. Another way to escape the heat is to go to the movies. So that's what we did. Twice. You have to know that Thailand is still a kingdom, and the king is a very present figure. You'll find pictures of him everywhere - everywhere! And so it was that just before a movie starts you have to give respect to the king by standing up in silence (preferably putting a hand on your heart) and pay attention to a cartoonish video about the life of the king. A very wise, kind and helpful person I'm made to believe. But the most astonishing moment for me was at the train station. We were in the main hall waiting for our train to start boarding, and this hall was buzzing with life. People going and coming back from wherever, people selling stuff and many the people like me, waiting for their train to arrive. Than all of a sudden this sort of music starts and the whole hall goes quiet and everybody rises. This was the most bewildering experience, for life just froze. It was like time stood still. Nobody corrected anybody, nobody moved and nobody exchanged eye contact. It was .. almost indescribable. At the time Marcel was not with me so I it crossed my mind that I might be having a brain malfunction, fell asleep or whatever. When the music stopped and went back to the normal jingle with announcements, life went on, like nothing had happened. Being part of this mass of abrupt stillness, was something I've never experienced before. But Bangkok held more surprises for us, like by accident putting us up on the rooftop of The Hangover II, and making us attend the yearly amateur World Championship of Tai boxing.
Bangkok showed itself to us as a city buzzing of life, with the ability of manifesting interesting turn of events and busy ever moving traffic with turbo TukTuks. But without the horns. A city of wide diversity in many aspects, for instance its inhabitants and transport. The city has very poor neighborhoods, beggars and on the other end crazy high end buildings, shops and tourists. Secondly, the local transport. We mainly used the city busses, in these we hardly ever saw other tourists. And these were sometimes barely holding together, but the city was also equipped with high end, flashy sky trains. Furthermore, a lot of effort was put in appearance, by women and feminine men (which were many). With its highest accomplishment of gaining a western man. This was the first place that we started to notice a lot of western men with local women. The sight made us sad sometimes, but for the women hopefully life would be better...
So, Myanmar lies ahead. A very special country, filled with different tribes and minority groups, millions of monks and as many different aspects of nature as you wish to see. A country still hardly touched by tourism but still harshly controlled by its government.
I can't wait.
Will keep you posted!
Love and Light always,