This Burmese story
As we roamed through the cities in Myanmar, I couldn't not notice how humble it feels to be there. I can't explain it any better. As a country that just opened themselves to the world, Myanmar still feel so authentic with all it's flaws and magics. I love how simple the life there, yet I can imagine how hard it must be at the same time. We were wondering where do these people get their flour to make their bread. Do they produce it themselves? Does it something that grow from their land? Could it? We didn't spend even a night in Yangon, because we decided there's nothing much to see there. When we landed around 8 in the morning, we roamed the city until we had to go to the bus station to catch the night bus that would take us to other city.
We spent the day in Yangon walking through the china town then made our way on foot to the Shwedagon temple, climbed an old water tower to take some pictures and got people yelling at us from the ground telling us to get down. They meant well. When I finally got down, one of the elders approached me and he told me that they're afraid the tower might collapse as it's really really old. He asked me where I came from and where he came from. He seemed fascinated when I told him that I'm from Bali (seemed like it didn't ring a bell to him) and it's in Indonesia ("Ah! Indonesia!!!", that elder said with exctiment). When he told him where he came from he asked us, "If you're from Indonesia and he's from another foreign country, how could you two meet?" - later we would find out that we would get asked this question so often.
We visited a very small village in a small town in Myanmar. We watched how the people ride their cow cart, plant peanuts, and kids sitting under the shades reading a book while looking out for the livestock. Little monks and the other kids played soccer under a 1000 years old tamarind tree and the village elders showed us the picture of Aung Sun Suu Kyi under that tree when she visited them a few years back with pride. And when we went to one of the temples in Old Bagan, we met other fellow backpackers from all around the world. And again, for the thousandth time, we got asked that question, "Wait a minute, I'm confused. If you're from Indonesia and he's from another country, how could you two meet?" The question was kinda funny to me.
In the morning, we liked to take a walk around and tried a new place to eat. There was this one place where everyone in the village seemed to gather together to eat breakfast. I loved the food there. It's nothing fancy, but the food was good and I really loved the ambiance. They had bread, tea and mohinga. I loved to see how these people go to this place in the morning to have their breakfast and exchanging stories. I've never seen this kind of tradition before, and I was thinking how close these villagers might be to each other. When we rode on a car, the people on the street would stop and wave at us.
One afternoon when we were waiting for a boat race in a fisherman village to begin, we sat under a wooden hut with our tuktuk driver. He opened the conversation apologizing that he really wanted to chat with us. He had only learned English for 3 months, and he really wanted to practice. We told him that he didn't to apologize and a conversation was more than welcomed. We told him that for someone who only had learned English for 3 months, he's very good and it was true.
He told us about his family and his children. We asked him if his kids went to school, and he told us that he donated one of his sons to the monastery. We exchanged looks and then turned our head to our tuktuk driver. "Donated your kid? How is that possible?" he asked. Then the driver explained to us that it's common for the Burmese to donate their kids to the monastery. The monastery will take care of their education, food, and stuff. People there are prefer to send their kids to the monastery because it's free of charge and sure it helps the family a lot in cutting expenses rather than send their kids to regular school. I asked him if the kids could go home once they enter the monastery. "If they're not happy in the monastery, then they can go home. But if they're happy there, they can continue," our tuktuk driver's sentence closed our conversation that afternoon as the people started cheering on the boat race that was about to begin.