So I recently returned from Burma (Myanmar). It was mind blowing – the MOST beautiful country. I can’t even begin to describe what a special place it is, but I did try while I was out there… So here is a stream of consciousness about the trip. Reflections on Burma, if you will. George Orwell wannabe.
An impassioned cry ‘why’ – my sister has stolen my knickers. My suitcase crashes down the stairs and I see myself in its bruised wheels which roll down. Baggage. Shit. Stuff I don’t need, which only acts as a hindrance. Do I look good in this? Perhaps I could be more like this… One dress. One me. A tattered passport goes into the hand of another, I cannot be trusted with it. I fill my head with Valium and feel its superficial warmth. I awake in a new space – a foreign land. The light of Bangkok is a dim pink the glow of a hotel bedroom which houses secrets breakfast on a cart eggs baked not fried.We are soon to be in Burma. Shut my colonial mouth. Welcome to Myanmar.
Tropical grass cushions my feet. An inviting buzz in the trees. Excited gin and tonics lead us astray and end in clothed sex and clothed unconsciousness. The sun stirs before we do – it’s been waiting for us in all its glory. I am its plaything – I know I will soon be chucked into a night of burn and itch. Temples surround us, there is no land which is not holy – I have nowhere for my cigarette butt. Figures of Buddhas are distorted by the frantic application of gold leaf. Visions of the Buddha abandoning the palace for solitude in the forest are implanted in my mind by our guide, who dreams of monkdom. We drink too much and buy rounds for a man who works for Apple. His tales of technology flicker in the flame of candlelit table. We are locked out on the balcony and only covered by our fluffy dressing gowns – a whore among the holy. The roofs are climbed by the hotel boy, who releases us into our room which sweats with alcohol. My breast is popping out – I make sure I tip him. We resort to corruption in the mountains – the owner is sanctioned, but we bathe in the infinity pool of his infinite crimes against the people who serve us cocktails on loungers. We sleep on linen sheets and awake to a colorful continental breakfast. We sit on horses who stroll around the jungle – Our attempts to buck them into a trot or a gallop fail.
I feel the chains on my mind loosen and a traditional massage weakens the armor that my body has become. I am not prepared for war. But perhaps there is to be no war. It was just in my head.
Our next landing is a lake, where life floats. Wood homes elevate families out of the water and for two nights it will us. Our guide is Catholic. Our lunches with him transport us to another world – far from the Buddhist tomes of our former guide. He contracted hepatitis from the dentist, and tells me his wife secretly aborted his child. His pain stays with me. I want to fly him to England and march him through the open doors of the NHS. But not enough that I will.
We watch the artistry of a silversmith, dresses are sown from lotus. The Buddha walked on the land and lotuses grew around his feet.
Buddhists burn the houses of Muslims near the capital and a Buddhist monk is set on fire. They were fighting over gold. We worry for this wonderful country. This extraordinary place that has suffered so hideously under government bodies. Sunsets eclipse thoughts of suffering and glowing dragonflies fill the nights sky. We jump aboard a wooden boat before the sun has shown its face – it appears as we scythe across the silky water, passing fishermen who balance patiently on their boats, while their nets scrape for their trade. We arrive at the beach – the sea is for us. We lie on a crisp white bed and look out onto our own personal garden. I think back to my attic room and my filthy office desk and delight that two months salary have brought me here. Snorkeling – we hunt for fish. The waves stir up the sea, so we can’t see. I am shade bound as flames of red cover me. We talk to locals and they tell us stories, of the corruption of Myanmar. Sickening. I close my eyes and beg for change.
I will move out I will jog I will drink less I will stop smoking. Promises are made to the night which I can’t be trusted to keep. We are leaving – panic rises. The words of my book pace around and are unsettling. Returning to reality is harsh.
We stop in Bangkok – the hotel is 5 star and we are frauds taking advantage of every facility and stealing the flannels. It is Easter Saturday. The streets are hissing with filth and dirty old western men dine young Thai girls. The Sky Train is filled with iPhones. Westernisation and western deviants. We spot the sex tourist. From such a beautiful, honest place we have come – simple in its means and magnificent in its ends. To here.
Corrupt government or corrupt mind?
For the first time I don’t mind going home. We soar over pained countries and a woman in front falls ill. Is there a doctor on board? What if there’s not… We land in a chilled , grey land. We wonder why we live here I lie in bed and dream of a sun glowing on the river Irrawaddy. I feel warmth defrost my body and mind. I fall asleep.