Lars Minute

and now i'll do
what's best for me

the golden land

yangon. that white noise. the humming of a crowded place is in the air, while we walk up the last steps to the plaza of the shwedagon pagoda. the sakral monument is cladded in gold from top to bottom, holding thousands of diamonds and rubies at its peak in almost 100 meters height. people from all over the country donate gold to maintain the pagodas appearance - an incredible fact, considering how little the people of myanmar got to make a living. 

we are fascinated by the lifestyle of the people. all these different faces, featuring thanaka paste on their cheeks. men wearing longyis. old women smoking fat cigars while they sell their goods on the market. little boys who are being brought to the monastery for the first time in a festive ceremony.

the next destination on our trip is bagan, an ancient city in the mandalay region, former capital of the kingdom of pagan. from the once 10.000 temples, monasteries stupas and pagodas in this region, around 2200 are still intact as of today. the sunset is incredible.

we explore the area on little scooters and by horse cart until we are templed out, hang out with the horse cart drivers until the early morning. we play the guitar, sing songs and talk about differences of life in myanmar and singapore. most of them study in the bigger cities and are hard workers during their semester breaks. they dream of a better life for their families and themselves, just like young folks anywhere else in the world. it doesn’t take wealth to be golden. 

burmese days

a dusty road leads us from the airport to a small village in the mountains. it is still early morning as we start to walk: four westerners and a trekking guide in a very good mood. momo leads the way, and as the landscape passes by we get to know each other step by step. 

children are are taking care of water buffalos on the open field, play at the side of the path or join us for a while on our way. sometimes the only way to communicate with them is to sing the happy birthday song together, followed by laughter and waving hands. feeling their genuine curiosity, we also feel safe and accepted throughout the whole trek. having a relaxed local amongst us was definitely a good idea. momo chats with everyone we meet and teaches us some basic burmese. the school buildings are empty while carpets of bright red chilies are drying in the warm sun.

we reach the house of our home stay family just before sunset. i can’t remember the last time i felt physically so exhausted! an improvised shower, consisting of a bowl and a barrel of ice cold mountain water in the middle of the yard, helps to bring back the life in me. momo helps the family to prepare our dinner over an open fire in the middle of the kitchen. he adds some crops from the side of the road - delicious! after a cold night under layers and layers of blankets, we have to say goodbye to our hosts and their little shop with excellent view to the village’s street life. 

on our second day of trekking we share steep gravel roads with monks, workers and self-made trucks, then we walk over hilltops until finally the shores of inle lake come to sight. so we hop on a longboat, enter one of the lakes’ small side streams and watch as the muddy waters turn into a blueish grey.

impressive to see the skills and techniques of local fishermen and sewing ladies, we admire their fine lotus scarves and start to explore the floating villages. eventually we reach our resort for the night - placed on stilts, right on the water! a cold beer at sunset with an amazing view and a very appreciated hot shower later, a deep slumber is awaiting all of us. meanwhile, the fog is slowly growing closer to our huts and as we hop on the longboat again in the very early morning of the next day, not even three layers of army blankets can stop us from shivering. the surreal ghostly landscape drifts by, as we get closer to our next pickup point and the airport that will lead us to our final destination in this country.