I’ve just arrived in Myanmar after a night in Kuala Lumpur and I’m struck once again by a feeling that I can only describe as a kind of euphoria that hits me when I travel.
The first time it hit me on this trip was while I was in a gym class in Brunei. It was my first day in Brunei and my hotel was next to a popular gym so I decided to join their BodyCombat class as a way of loosening up after multiple flights. The class wasn’t always in English and I was the only foreigner there. The cool down track started and a favourite song of mine started playing, Rise Up by Andra Day. I was drenched in sweat from the local heat and the intense workout. It hit me that I was in a completely new country and that I was so far from home in a place that few people I know would ever consider visiting. An immense feeling of peace and pride rushed over, a huge dorky smile spread across my face. ‘I will rise, a thousand times again’. I felt strong, I felt empowered, and the feeling that flowed through me was absolutely euphoric.
I passed through immigration with ease thanks to arranging my e-visa in advance. I took plenty of Kyat from the ATM, bought a local sim and caught a taxi to my hotel all with ease. No fear, no uncertainty and full confidence despite being alone in another foreign couentry that few people I know would ever consider visiting. Arriving at my hotel I’m advised that there is a rooftop restaurant if I want to eat and that the space is open 24 hours though the restaurant closes at 10pm. It’s on this rooftop that once again I am filled with this beautiful feeling of euphoria. The rooftop restaurant is decorated with woven balls of light and the backdrop for such a setting is the Shwedagon Pagoda that is gleaming in gold. For the first time since I left New Zealand, I can see the stars. Alamak, I am blessed.
I can hear wind chimes in the distance echoing from the Pagoda. Whimsical and majestic, weaving in and out of the sound of crickets and car horns.
The only sadness I feel is one of ineptness towards my own language. How can I describe such a setting when my vocabulary fails to pinpoint such a feeling of peace. Part of me wishes I could share this moment with someone, another part of me is glad I can keep it all to myself.
Hello Myanmar, my home for the next 8 days. I think I’m going to love you.