Day 7: Thursday, 18 April 2018 – Yangon, Myanmar (16.8661° N, 96.1951° E)
“This is what’s priceless about travel: It allows us to fill in the blanks, put names to faces, and make bits and pieces of the wide world, now and forever, part of our own worlds. And through it, we gain a better understanding of everything from the front-page news to our next-door neighbors.” – Thomas Swick (travel writer)
Day Two in Myanmar…might be easier today considering life is back to normal following a week of serious holiday making…
My Early Morning Question of the Day (and I have a lot today): What is it about shoes…every temple makes you take them off…do shoes impede spiritual progress?
I love getting up before dawn refreshed and full of hope, anything seems possible; it seems to me that disappointment rarely ever shows its ugly face until before noon. Mornings when traveling is mine, all mine…Now, my family…well…it’s fifty-fifty!
So…yesterday we confronted, what I have referred to in years past as the 3rd Day Syndrome…a little drama that plays itself out every year. It is normal for travelers with heightened emotions, jet lag, place lag, culture shock to go through…and it especially occurs on the 3rd day of our event when the results of the first international leg are revealed. Note that no drama occurs before the results are made public, only after!? So, I offer you my perspective on the sometimes dreaded 3rd Day Syndrome in a little YouTube video here.
To visit or not to visit? That is another question for us today here in Myanmar. Should we even be in this country considering it’s repressive ways? Here is what I told our travelers yesterday, some of whom brought up the issue:
“Another aspect of this leg is important for us to chat about…we want you all to know that you are serving as goodwill ambassadors here…on an informal diplomatic mission…a fact-finding operation. We want you to dare to understand! …Frankly, Myanmar is one of the most complicated and captivating destinations you’ll ever visit…with an equally spectacularly rich culture and amazingly beautiful people… BUT, and it is a big BUT… there can be no doubt that Myanmar, just emerging from decades in isolation…suffers tremendous problems… make no mistake about it, it is a troubled country with great suffering…and certainly we are aware of the human rights atrocities (yes, atrocities!) taking place here in the name of religion, nationalism and ethnicities…we are not tone-deaf! But we want you to get past the “official story” you may have heard…to experience it for yourself…to meet and engage as many locals as possible…to bear witness for yourself what’s really going on here…to play journalist…to be your own reporter and ask a lot of questions–difficult questions–and then to listen carefully and with great respect to what is said to you…to learn from what you have heard in order to gain an honest perspective…of course please offer support when appropriate. We have no illusions…there can be no doubt that parachuting into a place for a short time never allows one to mirabile dictu, to acquire instant expertise…that of course takes time…but we fundamentally believe that you can acquire a more accurate idea as to what local perceptions, and maybe even what the real facts on the ground here are…by seeing it with your own two eyes and asking questions…I want you to be able to say: Here’s what I found upon arrival from my own personal experience in Myanmar…to make your own decisions.” Nuff said…
More questions…Does a place become holy because holy people come there, or do holy people come there because the place is holy?
People always ask me, no really, they do because I am considered (wrongly) to be an expert on most things travel related especially obscure cultural nuances that Harvard PhD’s specialize in…What’s the difference between a pagoda, a temple and a stupa? I was confused once too by this distinction, but here’s what I know: A pagoda is a generic term for a stupa or a temple. Stupas are pagodas that you can go around but you generally can’t go into—Shwedagon Pagoda (below) is a good example of a stupa—the biggest baddest one in the world IMHO. Temples are pagodas that you can go inside and typically they have four entrances and exits located north, south, east and west with a Buddha awaiting you at each entrance.
Was interesting how few of our travelers had been here to Myanmar…it reminds me that we know more about our solar system than our oceans and that more people (530) have traveled to outer space than have have traveled to all countries (180)!
FYI…Although we have no idea where they get the time (or energy?); some of our 2019 teams are blogging, and open to social media interactions:
Lawyers without Borders (blog) –
Order & Chaos (blog) –
Transformed Goddesses (blog) FB & Instagram links –
MargoPolos – Twitter fed – Margo’s (blog) Karen’s (blog)
The FILLIES (blog) FB + FB & Instagram links –
NEXUS (blog) –
Team Ying 2.0 (blog) –
We try not to hit our readers/followers over the head about The Global Scavenger Hunt’s cause-related, charitable purposes, but this annual event raises funds for GreatEscape Foundation’s twin goals: building co-ed elementary schools in low & middle income nations, and distributing interest-free no-fee micro-loans to budding global entrepreneurs (mostly mothers). Both our methods of helping others help themselves are designed to facilitate their great escape from the cycle of poverty—one person at a time! Happily, we have improved the lives of thousands: building a dozen schools, a mid-wife training facility, and funding thousands of mothers wanting to make a better life for their families.
So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week in order to make a small secure PayPal GreatEscape Foundation donation during the course of the 2019 event, we know a lot of kids needing a basic education that would thank you. And we’ll thank you too…with a tax receipt.
Thank you, or should I say ce-zu-beh!