At an amazing, peaceful pagoda. You could hear the tiny bells tingle magically when the wind blows.
I also hope, that all the people in Philippines will have a better year, especially those, who lost their homes or loved ones in the typhoon, and of course those, who I got to know personally (and who are still very much on my mind, greetings to all of you!!). I'm happy to have met so many new, nice, fascinating people year 2013, that I could dance for that and will do that as soon as I get better (I wrote this whole text two days ago, and will explain in the end of this, why things are not ok!). I'm also happy to have my third novel published (and nominated!) and I'm happy, that all in my family are healthy and doing well. And I'm happy, that I visited 11 countries last year, since traveling is as important to me as coffee to those who drink that black, horrible stuff.
The year 2014 is going to exciting for me as a writer; a poetry collection of mine, the first one ever, will be published. I hope to finish finally my 4th novel script so, that all the others will be satisfied too, not only me. In my eyes it's done, in others not at all. Have to work hard on that, then, grrrrr, but well, nothing is free in this world. In general I hope, that the inspiration and flow of words won't disappear. That I hope for all my colleagues, the brilliant writers in Finland and everywhere else, too, of course! And I hope to get a chance to travel a bit longer, than this time. Fingers crossed for that. If that is possible, I'll definitely go for volunteering, again, but hopefully not in an emergency situation.
Anyhow, I've spent this week three days in Mandalay. There's quite a lot of impressive pagodas to see, but I got very tired of that city. It's noisy, dusty, annoying. There's no peace anywhere except at some pagodas, even the most quiet roads are "dangerous" because behind every corner there's someone, who disturbs your thoughts by asking, if you need a taxi. I'm fed up. Was every second minute so far on a bad mood, because of too noisy traffic or too nosy taxi people, but then again every second minute I had to smile, because the people are smiling and waving and greeting and being sincere here. So it's impossible to walk around bad mooded or being dissatisfied. But all I wanted after the 3 noisy big-city-days was to get out of that city, far far away from all the chaotic life. My first plan was to hitch hike to Lake Inle on 1st of Jan, but as I ended up partying on New Year's Eve and being tired the day after, I decided to use the flight ticket I had. But from the airport I did hitch hike to the village, and it was easy (taxi would cost 20-25 dollars, but if you walk from the airport to the highway, you can travel for almost free), where I'm now staying for 2 nights.
On the first day there in Mandalay, I walked and walked and walked. My problem is, when I'm alone, that I can't stop walking. It's like Forest Gump running all the time. I just can't stop even to have a break. Don't know why. So I walked through all the (very, very beautiful!) sights, walked up the Mandalay Hill, walked around the huge Mandalay Palace area (outside of it and then in the palace), and saw so many temples, that huh. Altogether it was 6 hours of walking. How hungry I was after that! Took a motorbike taxi to the hotel in the end, and ended up getting a gift (a cute bunny towel) from a young boy driving next to our motorbike. By the way, for some reason all the tourists rush up the Mandalay Hill just before sunset to see the sun drop down. I had the most beautiful sunset scenery in Bagan and didn't care about that in Mandalay, so I climbed up the hill an hour before sunset and got down during it, which was clever, since I don't like rush hours. And on the way down during the sun set you could have a dinner all by yourself next to a pagoda, made of fresh ingredients, and still see the sun fall down on the sky, and enjoy the most quiet moment you can possibly enjoy in a city.
On the second day in Mandalay I went to Mignon by a ferry. It's an ancient town nearby, and it costs only 4000 kyats to go and come back if you buy the ticket at the "port". Most of the other tourists go for an organized and guided tour, but I would say you get more, if you avoid that. There are always monks, who explain you things you want to know. In Mignon there's the second biggest bell in the world, but it's not impressive, at least not after seeing the biggest one in Moscow. What was impressive, was the big white pagoda, and also some smaller pagodas on the side roads. I ended up going into a quiet temple, and there a buddhist monk gave me a lesson..he taught me how to pray in his language, and I had to repeat it for HALF AN HOUR, until he finally let me go. In any case I recommend going to the quiet side alleys instead of only staying on the main road and checking the main attractions.
The longest wooden bridge in the world.
Before the ferry left back to Mandalay, I sat down to drink a coke, and was accompanied by an Italian guy, that I'd seen earlier on the ferry. He and his friends invited me to join them for New Year's Eve dinner, but I found myself later (after an exhausting afternoon walking in the south part of the city and visiting a huge pagoda, and having early dinner at a street restaurant for 29 cents!) partying on the big street in front of Mandalay Palace with the two guys I met in Bagan last week (or was it this week?) and some other people from their guest house. It was crazy. All the people were screaming, hooraying on the street, thousands of motorbikes driving around, and ALL, ALL the people, who were passing by, wanted to shake our hands and take pictures. It was funny and it is nice to hear from random people Happy New Year wishes and wish that back to them. And smile, no; laugh, and jump around in the crowd of joyful faces.
On my last Mandalay-day I was then totally tired even though the partying consisted more of laughing and talking than for example drinking beer - I guess the walking, walking, walking and not eating much was the biggest reason. So on 1st day of this year I just went for a not-so-long-walk at a lake nearby with one of the guys I met in Bagan, and then we took a motorbike taxi to the Amarapura and the famous wooden bridge. It was very beautiful. I loved being outside of the city center. Went to bed early, woke up 5.30 next day to catch the flight,k and I like the rhythm. The whole 4 weeks have been waking-up-early-going-to-bed-early -days (except New Year's). I think I'll keep that rhythm on when I one day return home, except that there I have to stay up late, and wake up early, to be able to write enough.
Oh and by the way; not everything is beautiful in Myanmar (as it is nowhere). There are very poor people (though you can't see many beggars on the streets), the water of the rivers and lakes is polluted and very dirty, the garbage is being thrown everywhere (something that I don't understand in Asian countries!) in the nature, some of the animals are being beaten (today my heart was bleeding, as I saw a man beating his bull) or locked in a tiny cage, and so on. Oh and the government is still a government. Is there any perfect one in this world, I would ask, but right now I won't.
So, now to the fact, why I'm not feeling well. I got suddenly very sick yesterday. Got to Inle, rented a bike, cycled about 10 km, until I suddenly started feeling very dizzy. Got off the bike, ran to the field next to the road, threw up, and FAINTED. Great. Luckily, two young boys, or teenagers, or whatever, came to help me, and they took me and my bike on their motorbike and drew me home. It was very weird; three people and a bike on a motorbike. And it gave the boy behind me a perfect f*****g chance to start touching me, since I had to hold my hands on the bike and try to stay on the vehicle and awake. So I couldn't punch him, but screaming helped. And in the end the boys demanded 6000 kyats for their service, which I then paid, what else could I have done. Got to the hotel, and oh how I was in pain. I remember once being in Thailand very, very sick, and now it was almost the same. Throwing up, running to the toilet, having cramps and high fever, and on top of that every part of me was hurting. So from 3 pm to 6 am today I laid in the bed staring at the roof. Luckily three painkillers helped with getting the fever down, and this morning I had no more pain or cramps, and obviously I can write, so I think its all gone now. I would kiss the earth, if it's really gone in one day and without going to the doctors! I'm very weak, though, so today I'll just stay at the hotel. Inle Lake is anyways just a big touristic trap. The locals are not that friendly here as they are in other parts of Myanmar, and you have to pay for everything. Just to get to Inle lake area, you have to pay 10 dollars. I was dreaming of a trekking tour, but just to go through a touristic trekking tour with a guide, you'd have to pay at least 15 dollars, and it's not even that amazing here...I mean, so far the most beautiful trekking tours I can find at home not far from Munich.
So, I'm still alive, and if it gets worse, will go see a doctor. I hope it gets better, though, since tomorrow I'd fly to Ngapali to the beach for the last 3 days. Didn't see any beaches during my holidays, and now if I have to lay sick in bed...well. You can't always choose. The main thing is to get well. If the beach part of my holidays doesn't work out, then I'd just have to go on a new holiday some when this year...