sitting in silent contemplation on the floor of a isolated wooden monastry, hundreds of years old, built on stilts in the middle of Inle Lake in the mountains of Myanmar, home of the legendary ‘jumping cats’ who have been trained to jump through hoops, I sip quietly on a tiny cup of chinese tea. The solitary monk in the monastry comes quietly over to me and offers me some soya nuts from a bowl nearby. We quietly talk, usual crap. Oh how young I am. I travel alone? Well done. You from England, you like West Ham? Oh poor you. We only like four teams here in Myanmar. You can guess which four they are. This Monk however has another hobby. Watching american action films. And he loves them. And he loves the language they use. Indeed, so much so he suddenly burst into giving me a rendition of John McClane in full Die Hard mode, shouting out in the middle of the silent monastry:
“Fuuuucck Fuccckkk!!! Mutthafuckkaaaa. You son of biiittccchhhhh!!!!!”
Stunned, I can do nothing but smile, then when he asks what these words mean, explain them carefully to him. “It means… er.. your mother… is a female dog.”
Anyway. Myanmar was crazy cool. Actually so poor. But filled with the most genuinely nice people who, despite there poorness, would always go out of there way to speak to you, or to eat with you. And the children, whenever you walk past, they would always turn to you, wave wildly with the biggest grin, sometimes chancing a ‘heelloo’ or any other english words they knew, some examples include, ‘hello goodbye bye!’ and ‘hello one thousands!!’
I was only there for ten days. I could go for the whole month of my visa and would not have seen enough of it. I rushed around, getting 3 night buses, with a total of about 400 hours in transit, and the buses there are absolutely horrific…. they have minus 4 inches of leg room each, the chairs are years old with the padding all worn out, filled with lice and poop, they stuff vegetables in all the crooks and cranies they can. and they don’t have ilses…or they do, but they have seats which fold down in them, so you are stuck with burmese all around you and theres no escape. not to mention the fact that, on my 18 hour mega trip from inle lake to yangon, i somehow got on the wrong bus, which was actually not as horrific as the others… and it was nice. for two hours i had a nice window seat, and they didn’t insist on playing stupid myanmar karyoke music on fullblast on the tv. but suddenly at a stop some slovinian guy gets on the bus and wants my seat. we both have the same seat number on our ticket, and apparently i’m on the wrong bus. so i get thrown out at some random petrol station and pointed at another bus, which won’t take me, then the next one i get on and try to go for my seat number, but some woman with a towel on her head is in it and won’t move till she is forced to by the guy. anyway.. i get the seat. woman with towel on head cries non stop for 16 hours as she is forced into the last remaining middle seat, and i wake up with the most excrutiatingly painful arse.
man i love that country….