A lot of us who follows travel instagram profiles will notice there are a lot of beautiful photos taken in Bagan, Myanmar, the historical ruins of the temples and the hot air balloons during dawn or dusks. Photography lovers or travelers have since storm to Bagan to take their ideal pictures, even paid for their own private photographers to be there.
However, when I went to Myanmar, I did not intend to take any instagram worthy photographs, but to immerse and take a look into what the Burmese culture looks like. Upon research, I found out Burmese Culture is a mix pot of dominant cultures and religions. With Buddhism, Catholics and Hindi Cultures being mixed with Thai, Khmer cultures, it is no doubt this place is very interesting.
I stopped by Yangon for just a mere 4 days 3 nights and spending my time in both rural Yangon and the city itself. What fascinates me as I walk through the Burmese streets, I find that time stops here and everything seems like to be back in the 80s and 90s drama, especially at night. Night markets attracted me the most during my stay. From my hotel walking towards Chinatown, I find myself being in awe struck again and again. The night market community is very vibrant and lively despite the harsh conditions.
Yes. Living conditions are relatively harsh in Myanmar. Bus stops are turned into Red Light Prostitution counters, uneducated kids roam the city selling postcards to foreigners, loan sharks or warlords sit in airconditioned restaurants counting their dirt money and redistributing them to their so called “employers”. Common scenes like this are being played again and again in the vibrant Yangon City.
Despite so, I remembered when I first step into the markets and closely observe how this community operates, I found myself looking into smiles, smiles which bloom so naturally when they talk, when they sell. It really struck me that being in poverty financially does not mean you are anywhere far from happiness. Happiness can still be found.
Stepping into Shwedagon Temple, the biggest temple of all in Myanmar, where chants were being recited by teams and teams of people all over South East Asia, where monks roam around and being so much respected, I can’t help but to observe the expressions of the worshippers when they chant their prayers. Some seems like they come a long way from home to the temple grounds. A sense of both hope and despair seems to be surfaced. A despair soul seeking for hope in the midst of this noisy, hectic, harsh world.
Culture is sometimes a funny thing. A culture observer should never bring any pre-cultured mindsets but this seems to be impossible, but also makes it even more interesting. As a man savors the distinct taste but identifies with the array of mild flavors all in one sip of wine, As a woman decides what to wear best in different occasions…