[特约 Contributor Jason Lim 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer Jason Lim]
Hello again Myanmar, meet my mom!
I still recalled the following excerpts from The Lonely Planet that first brought me here:
Thankfully, the pace of change is not overwhelming, leaving the simple pleasures of travel in Myanmar intact. Best of all, you’ll encounter locals who are gentle, humorous, engaging, considerate, inquisitive and passionate – they want to play a part in the world, and to know what you make of their country. Now is the time to make that connection.
It’s not the sacred stupas, but the Burmese’s legendary kindness…
The act of random kindness is a scarce commodity, and we’re lucky when we find those people who are not corrupted by modern society. There are also times when kindness meets friendliness, thus making the place, or it’s people exceptional.
For the urban dwellers walking down the street, Myanmar can throw up its fair share of hazards. I was lucky that there were many helpful passers-by to help me through the ordeal. It was the compassion of passers-by that made my experience in Myanmar more bearable than it could have otherwise been.
Therefore, it’s this genuine kindness that “Win” me back again!
My encounter with Win, a native sculptor from Bagan a year ago was one of the few instances I experienced such compassion. The young man saw our uncertain looks moments ago when we were trying to find the vantage point – a must for watching a Bagan sunset as the golden ball sinks behind the mountains from atop a temple. He stopped to ask what we’re looking for and signalled to us to follow him to a better place with fewer people. Following a stranger with no other soul in sight is not what my mom taught me, but okay. We arrived at a small monastery, which, according to our new friend, is a much better spot to watch the sunset and there are no crowds. We reached the top, sat down and our new friend joined us. After giving us a brief introduction of the site, the only “reward” he asked for was a group picture with his newfound friends.
No lunch is free, right? That’s how our mind works. Well, not in Myanmar. Win didn’t have to show us this place, guided us up top and stayed with us. He could have stood at the bottom or moved on to his next destination, but he didn’t. Win saw four clueless tourists, and he wanted to help. We were “warned” but that’s what Myanmar is to me. Simply, kindness.
This time around, I returned with some toys and station, and destiny has it that I was reunited with Win again, but this time with both families. Win was thrilled and did not hesitate to invite us to his house, which he shared with his siblings. The kids were truly overjoyed while we shared some quality time of our own catching up as well.
Myanmar is “home” to our next mother and son’s adventure, after Taiwan, Vietnam and China. From dusk till dawn, Yangon to Bagan, urban to rural and occasionally getting off the beaten track away from the tourist hordes, we can still discover original Myanmar in a relaxed manner. The inherited kindness from the Burmese is enough to bridge any cultural and economic divide. We could simply pull up a chair and watch their life go by as we sip on beer and soak in the chilled vibes.
A trip to Myanmar is no longer a question of if, but when given its improved accessibility and readiness to make that connection but when in Burma
(Rome) are you prepared to do as the Burmese (Romans) do? That is, observe their way of life and continue to preserve their inherent kindness. For my mom and me, we seek out meaningful interactions and experiences that can’t be had at home, and Myanmar turned out to be just the place for us. We came away from our brief stay in Myanmar with refreshed spirits and new friends and look forward to being back again.
I also hope that as more travellers come to Myanmar, its traditions can hold firm and the people keep smiling…
Be kind, and be brave.
See you again, Myanmar.
And by the way, Kafuka Cafe & Music Studio is the product of two talented music professionals, venturing out on their own, where both mums were invited to helm the kitchen. Jason and Eric insist on serving only food and drinks made with great love and patience, as food served from the heart is most delicious.
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