Hi dear ones,
I don't know why I'm as happiest when sitting in the back of an old vehicle on the way somewhere with my mind completly still. Nomad genes? Illusion of escape? Or blessed silence between two thoughts/destinations. I love the state of hightened awareness when I enter a new unknown territory without previous history my mind can rely on.
I took farewell of my friend Fu who went back to China to celebrate Chinese New Year with his family and I took a little old plane to Inle Lake. With God's help these old mashines carry a lot of passengers, mostly tourists. I was also saying my prayers all the way to Heho airport. The roads and railways in Myanmar are in very bad condition, it takes eternity to reach even a nearby destination.
From Heho one hour taxi (16 dollars) to Nyaungshwe, the main traveller centre for the Inle Lake area. Some people found this village/town relaxing. I found it depressingly touristy and boring. Tourist "maffia" is allready well established here.
The Inle Lake is 13,5 miles long and 7 miles wide and is gorgeous and fantastic as everybody said. Floating gardens, stilt-house villages, floating markets and incredible people. Their smiles and tolerance touched me very deeply and made up for all inconvenience and trouble of traveling in the country where junta's "eyes and ears" follow your every step. I don't know how many times I've been asked in my guesthouse where I was going, even if I just went to eat in nearby restaurant.
Myanmar has a lot of monasteries and you see barerfoot monks in all ages everywhere. I could sense their proud inner strength and stability. They are the backbone of the country plauged by dictatorship, poverty, corruption and environmental destruction.
My heart's first movement at entering Myanmar was contraction and uncomfortable feeling of "not beeing safe" which stayed with me during the entire trip. My body just wanted to leave country as soon as possible. So when all planes to Bagan (city I planed to visit) were fully booked for six days ahead I decided to skip it and took the only available plane to Yangon and from there back to Bangkok and Krabi. I recieved mail from Fu who left Myanmar from Mandalay airport. He told me how he and other passengers were searched and humiliated by airport officials when they refused to pay demanded bribes. I had better luck in Yangon. One official asked me for money, but he was not in position of power so I just ignored him and passed without any problems.
Despite of all this I felt sad to leave Myanmar. I realized that I was allready in love with its people and I can only pray that they one day find the strength to free themselves from oppression.