XXXXII – Every encounter I had, whether it initially meant a little or a lot, truly mattered.

Old bumpy train ride!

Me after a couple of hours in the train… looking tired!

Girly time!!!

Guillaume and the monk!!

From Yangon, we went by train to Mandalay, and the ride in itself was quite a bumpy experience! At the train station, while waiting for the train to leave, we met these 2 little girls amazed by Pauline’s finger nails. Thus, we started our journey by painting nails, and handing over some biscuits 🙂 Along the way, we shared our 4-beds compartment with a monk!

Water buckets in the streets… we didn’t try it though…wasn’t in our plan to get sick!

From Mandalay, tourists usually visit in 1 day 4 small cities nearby… well, it took us one whole day to visit just 1 city: Amarapura, which is home to the world’s longest and most famous teak bridge, the U Bein bridge.

The U Bein bridge

………..It was late afternoon when we finally stepped foot on the bridge because we stopped so many times on our way to the bridge to discuss with Burmese.

The monk covered of blue paint all over his body!

Painting walls and trees as well…

A work of ART !

………………………………………………………We met a monk who loved so much the color blue that he decided to paint all the walls of his monastery and trees in blue!?! He was really funny!!

Working conditions are really poor!! But they still have a smile on their faces!!

Fields of candles…

……..We met some hard workers making candles, and playing some sort of board game.

Break time!!

A girl, patiently drawing on materials that will serve as home decorations!

………….We met these cute little boys in the restaurant where we went for lunch. They really had fun with Guillaume!………………………………

Boys in the restaurant where we went for lunch, laughing at videos of us

Finally walking on the bridge…and meeting so many Burmese on it!!

Thanakha for Pauline!!

…………..We met these boys who really wanted a picture with us, and were so affectionate! We met these beautiful Burmese girls, brushing their hairs and putting on Thanakha. One of them put Thanakha on Pauline’s face and mine! We looked like real Burmese women! LOL

THE picture with the boys met on the bridge!!

Me and the thanakha!!

After Mandalay, we went North to Pyin U Lwin which would have been a total disappointment if we hadn’t met Father James and his family! On the way to see a supposedly beautiful waterfall (which turned out to be a kind of “Disneyland” waterpark, so disappointing), our tuk tuk driver made a short stop at his house. While waiting for our driver, we met his wife, his kid, and Father James who immediately invited us to have some tea on our way back from the waterfall. Even though, we were a bit sceptic about having tea with a catholic priest, we agreed and thank god we did! After having tea and delicious biscuits, we were invited to come back for dinner (although we were already so full from all the biscuits they offered us!). That evening was one of the most amazing, incredible night of this journey! They had cooked all these amazing dishes for us and you could see they must have spent quite some time in the kitchen, putting all their love in the preparation!

Father James had learned English while studying to become a priest, and was eager to discuss with us about our countries, our customs, our thoughts about Myanmar and how his country was perceived by foreigners,… And, we were keen on learning more about Burmese’s daily life, cultures, traditions, politics,… Time flew by so quickly! Before leaving, we took some pictures (that I’ve deleted by mistake!! But will post them as soon as I get them from Pauline and Guillaume) with this warm, loving family that welcomed us, complete strangers, in their home. No need to say there were emotional goodbyes! On the way back to our hostel, Father James stopped to a bakery to buy us 4 bags of home-made biscuits! He saw how much we loved these delicious biscuits, and thought we could eat some during our next day’s long bus ride! It was one more unexpected, thoughtful attention that brought tears in my eyes! Father James is one of the few men who embodies pure, genuine, goodness in this world.

During the trek, we passed a couple of villages and children always greeted us warmly! Always fascinated by our mini-TV (aka our camera) 😉

A 2-days trek in the mountains! Great!!

A singer appeared out of nowhere! He was singing to the mountains!!

After a long bus ride from Mandalay to Kalaw, the three of us did a 2 days trek adventure, along with our funny, beautiful guide nan Sam Mya and our incredible, speedy, chef cook, Nini. We would trek several hours each day, stopping for lunch in one village, and ending the day in another village up the mountain.

Guillaume working in the field!

An old woman we met on the way…

Each time we passed a village, we met children, women, men greeting us warmly!!

On the way to a village…

nan Sam Mya, our funny guide!!

Our “home sweet home” for the night!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The woman who host us for lunch…

Our chef cook, Nini, at work! He was amazing!

…………………During the first day trek, we stopped for tea in a small village, where an old men invited us in his house. The news must have gotten around because soon the small room was packed! Thanks to Sam Mya ‘s translating, we were able to communicate and we had some great laughs! Apparently me being tall and single intrigued them! The old man said I could stay and live here in the village with them, and he would then find me a husband (tall enough for me)! Hahahaaa!!

Our beautiful, amazing host family!

But, the real highlight of the trek was the evening spent around the fire in the kitchen of this sweet family’s home. Nini had walked ahead of us and asked in the village for a family willing to host us. This family (parents and their 3 beautiful daughters) had accepted for the first time to receive foreigners in their home! We had this amazing time, just talking about their daily lives and ours, about me being single (again 😉 ), about parties, music and marriage. At one point, Pauline and Guillaume even danced the waltz to show Burmese the steps, while I was singing! They didn’t know what was a tractor, chocolate or cheese, they had never seen or tried it in their life!! We laughed the whole time… The whole evening was absolutely perfect!!

Cooking dinner and chatting!

The youngest putting on thanakha before we took the family’s picture!

The women preparing their evening meal…

They put on their nicest clothes, and thanakha for the pictures!

An evening of warmth, laughs and great stories around the fire!!

……………This trek was a memorable one, not only for the scenery of the mountains, but also for the warmth, generosity, laughter and friendliness of the villagers! I believe that every encounter I had, whether it initially meant little or a lot, truly mattered! It’s these kind of moments that makes it so worthwhile to travel!

Cristina, a real Burmese!!

And, when I visit new cities (as Pyin U Lwin), part of the excitement is not knowing how things are going to turn out and who I’ll meet along the way. Sometimes things don’t turn out so great. Other times, it couldn’t be more perfect.

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4 Responses to XXXXII – Every encounter I had, whether it initially meant a little or a lot, truly mattered.

  1. Ana Rosa marquez says:

    Great moments and wonderfull people make your travel so beautifull,thanks for sharing it with us. Big kiss Mom

  2. Carly Larson says:

    I love all the pics you have of the locals! They seem like truly amazing people.

  3. Sunanda says:

    You look great with your red turban!

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