10th May 2012

In Shan state, on way to Inle Lake.  Dusty roads.  Horse-drawn carriages.  Monks playing football.  Bus of nuns.

At some roadside place, gulping down hot water.  Shoulders are as red as my Thai fisherman pants, and I’m on the road to nowhere.

Che, Bob and Rooney.  The international language.

Crisps and rice for dinner.  Small boy, red shirt – beautiful voice, kind eyes.  Older men – no English, but like photos and Rooney.  No teeth, from chewing that red stuff…

Flies are milling.

I attract a lot of attention.   Mostly positive.  Shy glances from young girl, hiding behind her mother.  Teenage boys cat-calling and whistling, but not out of rudeness, to simply practice their English, “Good Evening!”, “Hello!”  They giggle a lot…

I can’t believe I bought a monk puppet.  What the fuck am I going to do with a monk puppet?

Arse is raw.  Cycled round the river on a rusty one-geared bike.   That boy is wonderful.  A little businessman.  So confident, so self-assured.

I want to be back at Aquarius Inn, sitting on the balcony….meditating.

12/13th May (?) 2012

“Now I offer you banana and green tea…”

Well – hurry up then.  I’M STARVING!  It was a long day today.  The lake was beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.

Ducks are bigger than the children.  Herons guarding each water-way, upright and tall.

Children.  If you smile and wave at them, their faces….their faces light up.

The fishermen –  they steer the boat with one leg wrapped around the oar.  So graceful – poetry.

We saw pagodas and monks, ducks and cattle, farmers and fishermen.  Kids at school.  We swam in the lake.  Ate coconuts on the water edge.  Argued about lunch, and laughed when our tour-guide walked face-first into the post.  Mosquitoes are eating me alive.

12th May (yesterday was the 11th, not the 12th), 2012

I’m sitting in a Burmese tea-shop waiting for my bus to Bagan.  The stools are tiny.  Like children’s….but I’m talking kindergarten size.

Its great watching everyone.  Sipping their tea/coffee.  Reaching above their heads for the lighters that are tied to the door-frames.   Cigarettes are bought, 4 or 5 at a time, in small tin containers.  Cups.  Those little ceramic cups, resting in a bucket of water.  3 of them.

Its quarter to 7 and starting to get hot.  There are two other westerners waiting for the bus too.  One blonde (a lesser Skaarsgard), the other a straggly, long-haired brunette with a beard.  He’s ill.  Keeps coughing and is wrapped up in a black hoody, despite the morning heat.

We haven’t acknowledged each other.

The travelling scene here is a little bit strange I think.  I REALLY liked the French girls I met.  We went for dinner last night and exchanges addresses – a lovely pair!  But, the German girl – who was sweet enough – reminded me of what its like to be with travellers…and why I prefer to go it alone.

When you’re on your own its easier to talk to people, but you can also become a wallflower.  Observe everything.  I’m kind of happy like that.  Ambling along, at my own pace.  Taking everything in as it happens.  Eating what I like, when I like, where I like.

As soon as other travelers get involved – the precious arguments happen about how much we’re willing to spend for a bowl of rice.  Sensitive issue.  Emotions run high.  “Well, YOU can eat here and pay THAT, but I’M going to go somewhere else…”

Fine then.  Fuck off!  Its about 50p we’re arguing over…would you do that back home???  Walk out of a cafe over 50p?  I hope not.  So, get over it!

********

On the bus now.  Observations:
– Buses/planes…. could rock up ten minutes early, half an hour late…nobody really knows, or could possibly tell, but when they arrive, heaven forbid you’ve gone for a toilet break.  You have precisely 30 seconds to pay for your tea, gather your things, find your ticket and board….otherwise they just take off without you.  Not a second thought.

– Traffic here is chaos.  Rickshaws, early-morning joggers, power-walkers, motorbikes, stray dogs frolicking about, horse and carriages, trucks, buses, cars, EVERY form of transport you can possibly imagine from the beginnings of time, moving recklessly, to the sound of illogical beeps.

– There’s some weird shit on the telly.  A monk praying or chanting, images of gold buddhas with the retro, disco, swirling lighst behind their heads…

– Monks are shaking tins on the side of the road for donations.

– We begin to wind up into the mountains…

– PLEASE make the Burmese love songs stop!  PLEASE!

– They’ve stopped the bus now.  Hosing down the overheated engine.  Smoke is billowing out.

– The monks keep looking at me strangely.

– Its only 9am.  Have a good 8 or 9 hours left…..

************

its about 1.30 pm.  7 hours into our journey.  Truth be told, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it so far.  They’re all protective of me.    Want me to be happy.  Got to choose what film to play.  I went for “The Last Samurai”.  The driver dashed across the road to another bus to pick up a Tom Cruise, action DVD collection.  He forgot to put the hand-brake on.  We started to roll down the hill…

Bearded German, actually he’s Dutch, is actually quite hot!

Monks are smiling at me now.

I’ve been thinking about love a lot.  Trying to process what Matthew said.  That we are the source of our own love…no-one else.  I drew a picture to help me understand…I think what it means, is that I mustn’t waste my time on a sponge.  Its about finding somebody who is open and loving too.  Non-attachment – being together ignites the love you already have.

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