To travel is amazing. Is cool. Is exciting. But to travel is also tiring and exhausting. Now that I’ve been back for a month, I realize how tiring traveling can be. The fact of moving constantly, the fact that you have to readapt every other day and face new realities and new people can be tiresome. I don’t how many times I had to repeat my story. Where I’m from, where I’m going, why I’m traveling and so on. Over and over again. Everybody goes “Wow! I wish I could do the same!” and maybe they really mean it, but then they don’t do it. Maybe because they know deep down inside that to travel is actually a “job”, it takes a toll on you, like every other job. Maybe they know that it can be lonely, and that sometimes you feel lost and abandoned. That traveling is not just about money and meeting people and see cool stuff. Traveling is also getting to know yourself, testing your limits. And sometimes it is scary. Sometimes you don’t know if you’ll make it, you don’t know what you’re going to eat that day, or if you’re even eating at all, you don’t know where you will sleep and who you’ll meet. Of course it’s all part of the adventure and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world, but sometimes we all need to stop and make home even if for a couple of days. We all need a little consistency, for some peace of mind. And then your feet start to itch again and you’re ready for your next adventure, for your next connection, your next flight. Now that I’ve been back for a month, I feel the urge to move, to pack my bag and go. I’m nervously checking the flights and I’m already thinking about my next trip. I have this need to meet new people, see new places, eat different things. I need to feel free, to be out in this world, the travel bug had infested my body and there’s no cure. I just need to travel. I can’t explain the adrenaline that rushes through your veins when you arrive in a new place, when to talk to someone new, when you have to face a new problem in a strange land and you manage to solve it. I really miss all that, and even though I love my family and I like to spend time with them, the call of the wild is stronger. I left this instinct sleep for a few years but now that it’s awaken again there’s no way to put it back to sleep. I watch the pictures from my trip and I’m back there, with the sounds, the smells, the breeze and my heart starts to long. I have to be patient and wait just a little longer and I know it’s for a reason. But it’s really hard, I’d take the first plane out if I could, but I’ll try to calm myself and use this time to organize better my next trip. I’m like the scorpion from the tale, it’s beyond my control.
So I finally moved out of Myanmar too. I stayed a little less than a month but it felt longer. And not because I didn’t like it but rather the opposite. Myanmar felt good, I made a home for a little while in Yangon and I was really having a good time. People are nice, food is good and cheap. The land of men in skirt (it’s actually called longyi) where men (them again!) chew all day long betel nut and get their teeth burned out by limestone (an utterly disgusting habit), where blood red spit is everywhere, where they drive on the right and the steering wheel is on the right also (second hand cars from Japan) made me feel welcome. Not a single moment of insecurity, not a moment where I felt I was in danger. But as we know all good things come to an end and it was time for me to move on. I was on the stage where it’s either you settle down and find a job, or you leave. And I left.
To close my adventure with a bit of a heartbeat I realized when I was half way to the airport that I left my passport back at the hostel where I spent my last night. Luckily I left well in advance so I had the time to make a U turn, go back to the hostel and make it to the airport to catch my flight. But jeez my heart raced!!!!
So now in Dhaka Bangladesh I think about my days back in Yangon and for the first time I am nostalgic. Dhaka is very different from Yangon, it’s a crazy city and people look at me as if I was an alien. Buy it’s fun, my CS host is extremely nice and I’m sure that by the time I will get use to this new dimension it will be time to take my next flight.
So even my time in Myanmar has come to an end. Tomorrow I will be on a plane direction Dhaka, Bangladesh. I have to admit that I had a very good time here. Myanmar is a very nice country, I expected to like it and I haven’t been disappointed. My time in Yangon has been a revelation. I spent my days at Adrian’s, a Filipino guy that have been living here for the last years. He lives with a Filipino girl accidentally named Adrienne. During the time I spent at Adrian’s and Adrienne’s I took part in a surprise birthday party (for Adrienne) a house warming party and to the FAB party, LGBT community party in Yangon that takes place one a month, last Saturday.
So Adrian has taken all the pain to take me around, show me the city, take me to the cool places in town (Gekko, Rangoon Tea House, Penthouse, Sharky’s) and then convinced me to go to FAB (never been a big fan of disco parties). But I’m SO GLAD I gave in and went to FAB party. The place was packed with LGBT people and friends. The crowd is very mixed and people are there just to have fun. In a way it made me think of my early years when I used to go dancing with my friends on Saturday nights. I haven’t done that for ages, until yesterday. All the people met during my stay were there and it made me feel happy, people were having a blast and so was I. And I didn’t even drink! There were boys and girls (and all that’s in between) of all shapes and sizes and I was not even the grandpa of the party!
Yangon and the people met here managed to give me even if for a while the sense of home, comfort zone limited in space and time that I needed. Now I’m ready to move on. The time has come for me to move to another place, time to meet other people, time to live another adventure.
So. My week as volunteer as come to an end. Next Monday I will begin my vipassana. I’m a little worried that I won’t make it but I don’t wanna call it off even before starting it.
My week in Tha Bar Wa has been interesting. I’ve met nice people and seen things that I couldn’t even imagine. Volunteering always gives me back the faith in the human race. In a society where all that matters is money and appearance, it’s good for the heart to see that there are people ready to work for free, ready to give something in return for nothing if not in return for some personal satisfaction. During my time here I’ve been practicing massage on poor people, suffering from hard labour and stroke. It was good to give and get in return their gratitude. It made my day.
Of course not everything is nice and beautiful. Life here can sometimes be hard, hygiene is a different concept from what we think. People are very clean, they shower at least once a day everyday but then houses are barracks, trash is everywhere, animal have free entry wherever they feel like (there are plenty of stray dogs around here – and mostly are sick, there are 5 cows and they shit everywhere).
I had the chance to participate to the alms and see how people can give just for the sake of it. There is no shame. You give what you can. Being money or food. Or both. Someone gives an apple, someone a bag of rice, some a tube of toothpaste. Nothing is too little. You give according to your possibilities.
I also had the chance to see the other side of the mirror. Monks are not necessarily saints, they are people and for this reason they’re not perfect. Far from it I would say. And they are not necessarily nice persons, they don’t smile to you, you don’t feel your life is in good hands when you’re with them. They live their lives detached from everyone else. They don’t mingle. The first day I did the alms I was carrying the bowl for the money and the first thing that the “first” monk did after we finished the tour was to snap it out of my hands. And they are bit supposed to use money. I was a bit shocked. I would expect that from a priest, but from a monk….
But still. Even some of my coworkers have been here a long time and think they are “so spiritual” and feel the need to give you advice about meditation and detachment, it was a good experience. I like to see things with my own eyes and this time I’ve learnt so much. On many different levels. Now comes the hard part. Vipassana is said to be a magnificent experience although very hard. Another step to get to know me better I guess….
So… Where to start…
I’ve been in KL for more than one month now and I think it’s time for me to move on. The time spent here it’s been good, a needed a little nest to make home for a little while. Travelling is cool but it’s also tiring and every now and then is good to go back to the comfort zone.
But yeah my time here is up. I realized it yesterday. It took me time to buy the ticket to Cambodia. And not only because of the problems I had with my credit card (yes. It’s been cloned… but this is another story…). It’s been difficult to make up my mind and buy the ticket because I was good here in KL, I had a home again and it was nice to settle down in the everyday routine. But luckily for me KL is not the place I wanna settle down again. It’s a big city but still very human in a way. The prices are honest (apart from the rent, like in Barcelona basically) and the food is good. But the dark side of it all is that people here are very busy, for real or not.
It’s really hard to meet anybody, let alone get to know them. Via couchsurfing and other apps I got in touch with hundreds of people (not kidding) but I managed to meet only a few. They’re all super interested in meeting with you but you can never get a date from them. And when you finally get a date they cancel at the last moment. Or you meet, all goes well, “let’s meet again ” but again never comes. You have to organize with at least a couple of weeks in advance. It’s true that distance here can be discouraging and that public transportation is awful but still… There is always something else in the middle. Commitment is a word that is not really taken into consideration in KL. The enthusiasm is killed easily. I feel like they are collecting chats or friends in CS or FB. The virtual word is waaaaaay more important that the real one. Even when people go out together they are checking their phones all the time. There is always someone or something else capturing their attention. They’re there but not really. I’ve wasted so much time and energy try to connect with locals and in the end I was so frustrated that I decided not to open any app anymore.
I have only a few days left in KL. Time to finish my classes (to be discussed in next chapter) and then I’m off to Phnom Penh. I’m really looking forward to visit Cambodia. A change of scenery will do me good.