Visiting Myanmar is like 2 lovers running into each other again years after the relationship ended on good terms. There’s a strong sensation of familiarity that takes a moment to place where you experienced it before. Then, a gentle pull on your senses and you’re tumbling through a collection of real memories infused with make-believe. That is Myanmar.
If you’ve visited Southeast Asia before, that’s the feeling of familiarity; language and food share many of the same characteristics. And monks are all over Southeast Asia. You can’t put your finger on it, but you know it’s just…different. After a couple of days I realized what I’d missed. Like two exes who still have love for each other, Myanmar is polite, happy to see you, sincere in its concern for you and incredibly real when speaking about the experiences you shared. I believe Myanmar is Southeast Asia 10 years ago. You recognize how tourism is creating opportunity and misfortune simultaneously. I know my visit left a ripple of disturbance in Myanmar, but I can’t help but feel extremely blessed to know the land and the people.
Even now, going over the photos I took and deciding which to edit and post, I get emotional remembering how genuine the people were in their interactions and how many opportunities I had to connect on more than just a superficial tourist level. I don’t know how much longer Myanmar will be able to maintain that as it becomes easier to travel to and around the country. But I am extremely happy I had the chance to experience it before it completely changes. Like two lovers running into each other years later, you appreciate the time you had together, recognize how it fundamentally changed you and wish them all the best on their journey as you part. Thank you Myanmar, thank you.