On Friday I purchased a motor bike. It has changed everything. The freedom to move about, to go beyond the small radius afforded by my bicycle, has renewed my energy and excitement about this country. I’m just not a big, dirty city gal. I love the country. And it is stunning here. Very different than the lush rainforests of my past love affairs with Guatemala and Malaysia. Its the people that are the glory. They make even fringe living a lovely place to hang out.
Smiles, smiles and more smiles. The most friendly people. So open to saying hi and trying to chat.
Lori, another teacher here, and I bought our bikes and headed into the country for a short 30 minute adventure. It was really fun, wind-in-hair so to speak. Fabulous.
Then Saturday we headed out in search of a southern bridge that crosses the Ayeyarwaddy river. Following a 2-year old Lonely Planet, well, it was lacking in any detail and with our non-existent Myanmar language skills, asking for directions was comical at best. I think I’ve discovered why my body language is not working when asking for information, this country is still so new to foreigners, they simply have never had to decipher the code. Or, I’m just off my game. Either way, neither Lori or I could get our questions across.
It was beautiful inside. The ceiling was gold leaf and there were five or six different Buddhas of different poses and expressions. Very different than what I have seen so far.
After our wander through the cool pagoda, we decided to just push off into a northeastern direction and found ourselves in the industrial section of Mandalay. The streets were lined with big buildings churning out cookies, crackers, cement, rubber, etc. This was Saturday morning, still part of the work week, and it was bustling with people. As we moved more northward we passed through the areas that looked like housing for people who worked in manufacturing. Actual apartment complexes. And of course all the surrounding small stores full of everything you could possibly want. The neighborhoods were bustling with commerce and kids playing ball, a combo of bikes, motorbikes, lorries, SUVs, pushcarts etc.
The poverty was extreme, but as usual, the people had only smiles for us and we both felt like they seemed happy despite their circumstances. Human will to survive and thrive was very apparent.
Just a fabulous day. Doesn’t a great, big smile make such a difference?
Have a happy day!