Pausing for a Day to Recognize Brilliance: The Past Month (Thailand → Myanmar → Japan)

How to recap this past month? It was one of the best so far. And made me bright-eyed at the thought that there are many more to come (941 if I make it to 100).

I feel so much love, so much gratitude, so much joy. And so much excitement for how vibrantly alive, whimsical, and surprising this life can be.

I’ll spare the major details, because there is no need to remember everything. I was a bit apprehensive at first, before sitting down to write this. I thought to myself, “there’s no point, let’s just stop the journaling”. I didn’t want it to be a task, and it felt like an overbearing one, to write down every single thing about every episode, stage, or moment I experience.

And I was kind of right, there is no point to write down everything. Broken memory is in place for a reason. We don’t remember every single thing about our younger years, because there is no need to.

But it is scary to try and think back to when you were 5, or 7, or 12, and realize you do not remember much. But it is only scary, because in that brief moment we think we lost a part of ourselves.

However, we never do.

You experience the present – joy, sorrow, awe – you learn new things and experience meaningful things, and all of these things leave impressions on you that shape your view of the world, your ability to love, live, and laugh, whether you remember the specific moment or not. So 5 year old you is always with you, as is 7 year old you. As is 21 year old you 20 years from now.

Also, a broken memory allows us to pay attention to the memories we currently make. If we were to remember everything, reminisce on everything, there would be no time to enjoy the world in every moment it offers. And I would argue that that is the most important part of living: living itself.

Now that we’ve settled why I’m sitting on the floor writing on a folded piece of metal about the things I do and the things I’ve done, let’s play a game called “summarize”.

After leaving Bangkok, I spent a week traveling around Chiang Mai, Thailand’s northern city full of life, surrounding mountains, and big-hearted people. I met a good friend of my auntie Sharon’s, Dakuta, who became family within the first few days of my stay. She insisted I stay at her amazing apartment, with a beautiful pool, and showed me so much hospitality that I couldn’t help but contemplate how I could return the favor in the future.

From eating lots of good food, to meeting Dakuta’s friends and touring around the various mountains and temples, I fell completely in love with Chiang Mai. During the week we explored a nearby waterfall, the various sights and markets of the city, and ate like kings and queens for the cost of what would be considered a “budget meal” back home.

I rode a motor bike for the first time, went zip lining for the first time, and bathed in a river with elephants for the first time.

The week flew by fast, and no part of me wanted to leave Thailand. I thought about how much I would enjoy spending a year living and working in the country, something that might play itself out in the future.

Thailand taught me some things about living, about the varying environments we all live in throughout the world. Developing countries, developed countries, there are obvious differences. But every place has its own magic to offer, and every life is still one that’s living. Giving up the leisure, comforts, and familiarities of the country you are used to can open way to discovery, discovery of things great, phenomenal, and fulfilling in ways you would not have expected before.

That being said, Thailand, however different from Europe, the U.S. or other Asian countries such as Japan, still hosts the full spectrum of western life. If you want to live an expensive, fancy, manicured lifestyle, you can.

This story was a bit different in Myanmar.

After departing Dakuta’s apartment for the Chiang Mai International Airport, I officially began my trip to Myanmar. I landed in Bangkok for a transfer to my direct flight to Yangon, and from there an escort guided a group of 10 of us to our terminal. Traveling to Myanmar is not a difficult thing to do, and plenty of expats now have it on their list (and plenty of expats have checked it off as well), but it felt a bit novel nonetheless.

To put it in a sentence, my trip to Myanmar was eye-opening, inspiring, and sobering.

Eye-opening because I could keep my eyes shut, the country was scenic beyond belief.

Inspiring because I met many individuals who exhibited such strength in traits that I hope to exemplify in myself, at my best moments.

And sobering because I learned more about my discomforts than I did about my strengths, and more about what I want in life than any university course has taught me.

After landing into Yangon I took a night bus directly to Bagan, where I immediately met a group full of travel buddies. We spent two full days and nights exploring the grounds of Bagan, an ancient and bustling city covered with temples, pagodas, and blank space. There was only one hostel in the area, and it was full of people doing the same thing as myself: traveling alone. But as soon as you left the hostel, it felt like you had the world to yourself.

We rented electric motor bikes and drove around dirt roads, in between farms, and throughout landscapes that I only imagined of seeing in movies.

What is amazing about visiting places that have yet to be shaped by tourism is the freedom, authenticity, and privacy in the experiences you have exploring them. Every temple you could climb. Every panoramic view was without a single person in the frame. Every bird and rustle of a tree was heard without noise pollution.

I learned two major things in Bagan: Human connection has no limits, and tourism requires meaning.

Human connection has no limits because you can meet anyone, anywhere, in common interest, and forge bonds that feel as strong as a kind of family in a two-day period.

Tourism requires meaning because without it, you are simply wandering. I found this a bit odd, to explore such a sacred area, and have no role to play in it. Not learning, not giving, not meeting any part or person related to the culture or place. My time in Bagan was extraordinary, no doubt about that, but I wanted to be more than a visitor. For Myanmar to be more than a picture I could share. This inspired me to change the itinerary of my trip, and return to Yangon sooner than planned.

Before returning to Yangon, however, I visited Inle Lake. Perhaps the most beautiful part of my visit in Myanmar.

I arrived early on a night bus and witnessed the exploding sunrise, then embarked on a biking excursion with others from the hostel I stayed at. We biked to the docks, explored the mountains, ate an amazing meal on a small plantation, and ended up at a breathtaking winery (terrible wine, but great views).

The following day I found a small boating group in the village, and took a boat tour around the lake. The boat, me, and the driver. Plus the amazing views of a country with a rich culture, heart-inspiring history, and anticipatory future ahead of itself. The lake has been an important topic of conservation and government-roles for the country at large.

That night a group of us grabbed dinner at a Nepalese restaurant with amazing food. New friends from all around the world, lots of conversation on Brexit, lots of denouncing of Trump, and loads of reassuring laughter. (This was the night before the announcement of the Brexit results…)

If you ever visit Inle Lake, stay at the Sound of Travel hostel. I don’t get any perks for saying this, but I want to; the staff there were phenomenal.

After my visit to Inle Lake, I took my final Myanmese night bus to Yangon. I spent a day winding down at a Japanese-oriented hotel. The next morning, I made my way to the Tharabwa Dhamma center, a meditation shelter where I decided to spend three days living and working. To put it shortly, this is what made my trip so meaningful, more than a blind tour of a pretty place, and more than an updated Instagram feed.

I spent my last day in Myanmar exploring Yangon, and meeting up with two friends I met back in Chiang Mai. Two great After wrapping up my travels in Myanmar, I headed to my final destination before meeting up with my family: Kyoto, Japan. I had always wanted to travel to Japan ever since I was little, and my grandmother brought me back the latest Pokemon merchandise from her trips. The flight there was filled with excitement.

After going through the endless motions of hopping from one country to another, with long customs and midnight buses, I finally arrived to the home that ended up giving me so much in such a short span of two weeks. So much friendship, so much wonder, and so much motivation to continue traveling exactly like this.

I met friends that turned into family in Kyoto, amazing individuals from all over the world. We explored the region together; breathtaking sunsets, serene mountains, a beautiful river, a beautiful city, and a beautiful culture. From the endless exploration of temples to the repeated ice cream runs, I enjoyed every minute I spent working and living in that magical city.

I truly felt like a character in a Japanese animation film, exploring the world and being filled to the brim with loving experiences of places and people. Doubt, wonder, friendship. Kyoto made me eager to continue exploring the globe, and getting to know the world while doing so.

To my friends from Spain, France, Malyasia, Korea, Argentine, the U.S., and so forth… Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

These experiences around the world have amazed me in ways I cannot gratify enough.


SOLO Asia

Tips:

Read first you killed my father before visiting Cambodia

Take the hotel buses in Cambodia

— Kyoto

Thurs – The commute OMG the customs line omg the bus omg

Fri – Bike, eat at self serve restaurant, river with Ronnie & French friends, yakitori dinner at the infamous izakaya for first time 🙂

— Bagan, Myanmar

Mon

  • Flight to Yangon
  • Taxi ride
  • Bus to Bagan

Tues

  • Sleep at hostel
  • Eat
  • Temples
  • Chill out
  • Sunset
  • Trivia & friends

Wed

  • Sunrise
  • Friends & exploring temples, minor lost
  • Breakfast & chill out
  • Chillll & friends
  • Lunch
  • Chill
  • Night bus to inle lake

— Inle Lake, Myanmar

Thurs –

  • Sunrise
  • Bike to dock
  • Pagoda
  • Lunch
  • Winery
  • Nap & thoughts
  • Dinner @ Nepalese

Fri

  • Boat tour
  • Relax
  • Night bus to Yangon

— Yangon, Myanmar

Sat

  • Chill at hotel
  • Dinner at Green Gallery
  • Dessert
  • Chill

Sun – Tharabwa center, lunch, introduction to place, flustered American guy, kids, alms with nuns, dinner, meditation (fuck), hangout (okay)

Mon – Wake up (I can do this), Breakfast, alms with monks (I want to do this), lunch, teaching kids, meditation

Tues

  • Go to hotel
  • Chill out and work, data etc.

Wed

  • Chill out
  • Pagoda
  • Find Dan and Sasha at Pagoda
  • Dinner & convos

// future //

Monk at the monastery (other route along the hike to the the pagoda)

— Chiang Mai, Thailand

Food: Everything; Fried taro balls; Coconut flour dessert

Mon

  • Lunch with Dakuta
  • Massage
  • MAYA mall
  • Temples
  • Local market
  • Swimming
  • Dinner
  • MAYA mall rooftop
  • Nimman street

Tues –

  • Rent motor bikes
    • Temple on mountain
    • Wow the views are unreal
  • Lunch @ MAYA & dessert @ Blue Diamond
  • Time with Dakuta & friends

Wed

  • Temple outlook
  • Wow this world is beautiful
  • Dinner @ Kai’s home
  • Swim

Thurs –

  • Ziplining
  • Shared happiness is true happiness
  • Massage
  • Dinner cooking class!
  • Salty, overcooked failure, but happy, heartwarming company

Fri

  • Vegeterian place
  • Warorot market
  • Traditional Housing Museum
  • Temple
  • Holy shit I  I hate mosquitoes I hate bugs the bugs here fucking suck huge ass mosquito huge ass bees
  • Dinner at Ohkaju
  • Night bazaar
  • Sitting in Subway waiting for the rain to stop
  • Dakuta is awesome and walks in the rainy streets like a savage

Sat

  • Hiking waterfall
  • Lunch @ mall
  • Saturday walking street

Sun

  • Elephant sanctuary
  • Goodbyes 🙂
  • Dinner @ Ohkaju
  • Wow I can eat a lot and so can Dakuta
  • Is dessert ever necessary? I bet this was Plato’s dying question

// future //

30 person noodle restaurant (Your Father Is Dead)

Sticky waterfalls

Real Ohkaju

Nearby national park trekking

FLY to Pai or Hua Hin

Travel to Pai, Mae Hong Son

— Bangkok, Thailand

Tues – Myanmar visa / Downtown : Royal palace

Wed – AYUTTHAYA

Thurs – PATTAYA

Fri – Buy train ticket / Terminal 21 / Pick up Myanmar visa / Paragon mall / Salsa class / JJ Greens

Sat – Wash clothes

Sun – Pack

// future //

Amphawa floating market

Bang Krachau & Ban Nam PHUANG 

Any sky bar

Yunomori Onsen

ArtBox market

Saxophone jazz bar

// favorite places //

*Ayutthaya / biggest temple

*Pattaya beach / Koh Larn

Royal palace

Temple of Reclining Buddha

JJ Green’s market

Chatuchak market

Siam Paragon

The Maharaj & Amulet market & Thammasat University (cafeteria)

  • Plant smoothie shop
  • Favour cafe
  • Gummyday glasses

Silom district downtown 

  • STREET FOOD by silom shopping complex at night

Victory monument & night shopping stalls

Khaosan road

Jekky’s Homestay Saturday cooking

  • Joel & ‘s house
  • Street food stand nearby at local shop (huge portions)

Siam Paragon mall

Terminal 21 mall


Kyoto

Tips: (For Korea) Bike around Jeju; Oodo island in Jeju; Mountain Bhukaksan in Seoul

Friday July 1

  • Chill @ river
  • Yakitori and drinks with Fam
  • Shenanigans at park
  • Locked out of home… Sleepover at different house

Saturday July 2

  • Exercise @ river
  • Kyoto tower
  • Dinner @ grocery store
  • Major chill out & YT videos

Sunday July 3

  • Kiyomizudera
  • Gijon district
  • (Groceries & cook)
  • Potluck with Fam
  • … Obasan ate my hijiki
  • … Ronnie awesome for green tea ice cream

Monday July 4

  • Philosophers path (Nanzenji, zenriji, hoen)
  • Mt. Daimonji-yama Climb
  • Bento dinner / pick up Amazon package

Tuesday July 5

  • Shopping district
  • … Bike incident
  • Dinner party

Wednesday July 6

  • Train
  • Kurama to kibune hike
  • … Long walk back to station, beautiful

Thursday July 7

  • Shogunzuka & Seiyruden hike
  • Vegetarian buffet
  • KitanoTenmangu shrine (festival)

Friday July 8

  • Takao to Hozukyo hike (3-4 hrs)
  • Coco curry lunch
  • Yakitori
  • Karaoke

Saturday July 9

  • Sanjusengodo temple
  • Goin
  • Naras green tea

Sunday July 10

  • Meditation @ temple
  • NARA
  • Potluck
  • Party

Monday July 11

  • Sushi dinner

Tuesday July 12

  • Botanical gardens
  • Kyoto/Sento Imperial Palace 
  • Pokemon center
  • … We ended our day with a visit to the Pokemon center in Kyoto, full of 20+ year old adults, and continued to walk around until I started telling jokes that didn’t make sense and sat on the ground out of exhaustion.
  • Haircut

Wednesday July 13

  • OSAKA!
  • U studios
  • Dinner at yakitori

Thursday July 14

  • Gion Matsuri festival
  • Last night ❤️
  • Walk to subway 🙂

// future //

*Sunrise hike

  • Daimonji or Shogunzuka

*Mt. Atago San climb (4 hrs)

Osaka Castle

Shinsaibashi

Dotombori

Denden Town

Mt. Shosha

Kokedora (RESERVATIONS)

Katsura villa

Daigoji Temple

Toji Temple

Otagi Nenbutsuji

Kinkakuji

Shore-in Temple

Ninna-ji Temple

Tofukuji Temple

Tenryuji

Saga to Kameoka train ride

Kyoto Design Center

Sake Museum


Advertisements

Posted by

Moments made of people and places, brilliant and ordinary. ↹ Planet Earth, Milky Way

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s