Deep in the unknown – The hidden jewel of Asia

To remove confusion that has arisen, we are not on a boat and we have no actual sails. The sails are figuratively speaking our work that we are doing that keeps us going, and the boat is our tuk tuk, which is stuck at the Kolkata port, maybe. It seems to be impossible to get in contact with the port to find out whether our tuk tuk is actually there, but it should have already arrived.

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Somewhere in the Bay of Bengal – Wed, 28.05.2014

We ran aground in the Bay of Bengal. Our supplies are moderate, damage seems to be minimal, but we were forced to leave our ship near Kolkata to find shelter and supplies. We are deep in the unknown of the Asian Jungle where two of the most holy rivers diverge. One heals all, and the other gives life. They are known in the western world as Ganges, and Brahmaputra.

I hope the natives are nice.

Gubbe ja Juho.

Dhaka, Bangladesh – Thu, 29.05.2014

This place has shown a side of humanity we had not known to look for. We knew that Bangladesh is on the map, but we thought it was a poor country where footballs and clothes are made, and that people ride around in boats rather than cars because it floods and there’s no roads. Perhaps this is true outside of Dhaka, but this is not what we’ve seen so far.

What we have seen is the bling of the Embassy area with the Banks and the American bistros, a little bit of the posh area where we were forced to stay the first night called Gulsham, and this DOSH something close to all the army golf courses and what not. Every place is filled with tricycle rickshaws and nice cars, but sometimes a taxi or an auto rickshaw can be seen.

I have noted that nobody worth their salt in this place would walk more than 2 blocks. These tryckshaws are buzzing around continuously, half empty half full, with people sitting on them looking like fools being brought somewhere. It is a strange place where people seem to be powerless to lift a finger, or take a step without someone doing it for them. People are looking at us as if we are crazy for using our own feet and carrying our belongings.

While walking, I found the best tea I’ve had so far anywhere on this planet. It was at the corner close to our first hotel. There were 3 guards having tea and biscuits from this man who carries them around on his shoulder with a stick, so I went in for a taste because that’s why I was out in the dark at 1 am. Looking for food.

The rice cake biscuit thing was the tastiest and most nutritious one I’ve tried. The man spoke no english so I couldn’t ask whats in it. I managed to mingle a little with one of the guards, and I was charged a total of 21 taka (0.20€) for a tea, 2 rice cake things and 4 biscuits.

At least we can eat something here without going bankrupt.

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Bangladesh, Dhaka – Fri, 30.05.2014

We went to find the bazaar, but instead found ourselves in a local restaurant next to the train tracks close to the army golf course. Nobody spoke English and the menu was in Bangladeshi. Their numbers and alphabet look different, and I forgot to take my wallet.

Luckily I had some change in my pocket that totalled 127 tala (1.25€). We showed our money to the waiter and tried to ask for something small, but he walked away and we weren’t quite sure if he understood. Then we started sweating.

We sat in the back of the restaurant where the air was still, because the fans rarely got the chance to blow our way through the people. Thankfully there was a kid who noticed our precipitation and realised to bring us water. While waiting to see if we had ordered something we looked at the dishes others were having. Everything was mouthwatering, especially the grilled leg of lamb at the next table.

After drinking around 3 glasses of water each, the waiter brought 2 plates of naan bread and a bowl of mutton curry for us. Once again, they had bones in them and now we are convinced, that one secret of cheap and tasty food lies in bones.

In the end we payed the 127 taka and I’m sure he gave us the benefit of the doubt, because 1.25€ is not much for food that good.

Later on at our B&B we decided to find out more about this hidden jewel that we have been marooned to. So far we know this place is called Bangladesh, and it has billboards of the current female prime minister here and there, but what secrets does it have? It was time to go digipedia.

Bangladesh seems to be the peacemaker of Asia, pursuing a moderate foreign policy which relies heavily on multinational diplomacy. They want to be friends with everyone having good relations with China, as well as the United States. Bangladesh has also pioneered the first intergovernmental body in South Asia and works hard in the UN to keep peace.

Bangladesh is apparently identified as a Next Eleven economy (Meaning it is considered to be a future economy), and it has achieved significant strides in human and social development since it’s independence.

They have made enormous progress in gender equity, universal primary education, food production, health and population control. One man even got a nobel prize for coming up with micro financing. No wonder all the bling.

But thats only half of it.

Bangladesh is still a poor country where half of the population are illiterate and there are a number of other problems also. One of them being the poor conditions of the workers who make our expensive clothes for cheap. In any case, Bangladesh has taken measures to make things better. Basic education is free for everybody, and change is in the air.

I’m starting to like this place.

Pojat soutaa blog

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Bangladesh, Dhaka – Sat, 31.05.2014

We have been eating at the same local restaurant, because it is the only one close that has real food, and proper prices. Everything we have tasted has definitely been michelin star standard and teamed with the 1€ price, we’d be idiots to go anywhere else.

Something I have logged is that after every meal, we are brought fennel seeds to chew as dessert. Maybe it has something to do with digestion.

The rest of the time we have been working to fix the sails. We found some Nepalese children to help fix the tear in main sail, and they really raised our spirits. (Greetings from Nepal)

The mezzanine is almost up to date, and today we fix the top. The rest of the sails seem to be in good shape.

We don’t know how bad the hull is because we left it on the rocks near Kolkata. On Sunday we find out whether we can go back to see it.

I will keep you posted.

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PS. The Castaway Blog may have taken so much attention, that our Dreaming in Nepal blog might have gone unnoticed. Please go back and read it if you missed it 🙂

Castaway at the Terminal

27/05/14

 

We woke up only to find ourselves still dreaming. Then the dream turned into a nightmare.

We are not in Kolkata, but stuck in the no-mans part of the airport, just as Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal.

We did the Visa run to Kolkata as we were advised by the FRRO (Foreigner Regional Registration Office) and this time we made sure nothing could go wrong. We questioned them about all possible problems and they assured everything was fine. They showed us the new regulations which changed 13/05/2014 and said there is no reason to be denied.

We arrived at the Visa-On-Arrival desk, showed them all the documents and were prepared to move on quickly. First thing they asked was if we had a return ticket. We replied that no, and showed them the new regulations. Only a proposed onward journey is needed, which we have, so a call to their superior was made to check. ‘What is your proposed onward journey, sir?’

We told them that our proposed onward journey is that we are going land ways to Pakistan, and we showed them our valid Pakistan visa. This was a straight denial for entry into the country by their superior, on the pretence that we had no return ticket.

After some conversation I asked if we can have the visa-on-arrival if we buy tickets to Finland with their computer and they said yes, so I started to buy the tickets. Before I could finish they denied us this possibility also, stating that they will not grant us visas because we have valid Pakistani visas in our passports.

This felt quite strange as one of them had suggested that we could buy flights to Pakistan instead of Finland. Soon this possibility was denied also on the pretence that we must fly to our home country. Only minutes before Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia had been options.

Then Finland was denied because there are no straight flights from Kolkata, only through Dubai and that’s not allowed. Later on we were allowed to by straight tickets from Delhi to Helsinki, and we would have been granted the visa-on-arrival, but this too was soon denied. The law states that we must fly from Kolkata, which just is not true.

We tried to talk nicely and come up with different possibilities but not a single ear was to give us the time of day. I must state that we were kind all the way through because we have learned from Gandhi that fighting power with power is no use. We did feel anger, but we brought it out in song with the ukulele instead of negativity towards the officers. All of the staff enjoyed themselves, as did some children who had come with their family to the passport check.

‘There is no other choice, and absolutely no possibilities. You must leave the country asap.’

In the end it slipped from too many mouths, that the problem was the Pakistani visas. We knew that India and Pakistan don’t get along together and that previous visits in Pakistan might be a problem to attain Indian Visa, but we haven’t even been there yet!

Pyry in desperation to go the port to get our beloved tuk tuk offered to eat his Pakistani visa if it would make them let us pass, but to no avail. They had made the choice and will not budge. We are not to be allowed into the country.

We were given two options: 1) fly somewhere, go to Indian embassy and obtain a new Visa from there. And 2) fly somewhere and go anywhere else in the world. The latter made us feel very welcomed.

Naturally neither feels like a good choice. We just spend 600 USD to do a quick visa run to Nepal, because that what their superior, the RFFO had told us to do.

 

This is plain power juggling by idiots.

 

Pyrys’ mind went Castaway, so Juho called to the Finnish Embassy in Delhi. None of the Immigration officers were willing to talk to the Embassy on the phone, and when Juho asked for their superiors phone number to give to the Embassy, they refused to give it. Only after being adamant, Juho got the phone number, but no superiors answered. It was probably a false number.

To make things more complicated they just came up with a new rule. Apparently we have only 24 hours to leave the airport. The Last flight that we could make in the 24 hour limit, out of the country, leaves at 9.00 a.m. and that doesn’t leave much time to arrange things on the official level. We have to call their bluff.

We have a strong hunch they are bluffing since the very first thing we needed to do was to wait 2 days for the flight back to Kathmandu, because that’s where we came from and that’s where we should return to.

Pyry has now started some weird Jogic meditation and is slowly morphing into Tom Hanks. I think it’s time to go to sleep.

pyry nukkuu lentokentällä

 

28/05/14 CCU International

 

6.a.m.

During the night we were given permission to use the benches for sleeping, but were once again denied the use of the free blankets around us.

Pyry started to moan and look for tools to build shelter out of wreckage and I had to slap him to make him realise we were in a different movie.

 

10.30. a.m

Immigration staff changed shifts again and we went to ask for a possibility to buy flights to Finland to get the visas. They were baffled about the situation so at first they were ok with it. Then suddenly some officer came to say something and we were given the cold shoulder once again by all of the staff.

 

10.37 a.m.

We went back to inquire again. One of them told us that we have to go back to Kathmandu tomorrow, another one that we have to be out of the airport in 10 hours, a third one that we could get visa-on-arrival only if we fly out of the country from Kolkata, and some said we have to go straight to Finland. All of them were adamant with their differing opinions.

 

11.00 a.m.

Absurdistan continues.

One officer came and told us that we can’t have the Visa-On-Arrival because we were only ready to buy them today. If we’d have been ready to buy them yesterday everything would have been ok. We tried to explain that we tried, but once we opened our mouths he turned around and walked away.

Nobody here has any idea what the regulations are and it’s impossible to communicate with them because all they care about is abusing their power.

I feel alone and there’s no one to talk to. Pyry has started to walk along the corridors looking for crabs or something else to eat.

 

11.30 a.m.

Ship Ahoy!

We heard that the secretary of the Finnish Honorary Consul in Kolkata is in the airport trying to talk to someone in charge. But this is India and the greyback seems to be out of reach at the moment.

Pyry found a cake from a box in the corridor and pieces are hanging from his beard.

 

12.00 Noon

No news from the Embassy as of yet.

Pyry sits still in a lotus position with his hands in the air. He’s either meditating or focusing his energy for desperate measures. He really gives me the goose bumps at the moment.

 

12.47 p.m.

The secretary of the Finnish Honorary Consul was treated with the same respect as we were, which was none. The secretary was turned away bluntly with no reason for our denial.

 

13.13 p.m.

We were brought to the departure lounge to have lunch and to check flights out of the country. The wifi worked for 2 minutes and then it was purposefully shut off. We asked can it be turned back on because we need to check flights etc. but we were denied the use of the wifi.

Seems like everyone is desperately trying to find ways of abusing the little power they have. I thought that there is still a scrap of humanity left in every heart in this world, but I guess once again I must realise my mistake. Was this what Gandhi fasted for?

 

13.56 p.m.

We were given 30 minutes to figure out a plan and to check things on the internet. We had two options again. 1) To fly to Dhaka in Bangladesh and go to the Indian Embassy, or 2) To by a ticket to Delhi and a separate one to Finland that would leave after 2-3 weeks, and use that one to get a visa-on-arrival in Delhi. No record would be sent to them about the incident and all would be ok.

Just as we had figured out our plan and were to buy flights, the internet turned off. Juho was then taken to an office, where he is now trying to get us flights out of this god forsaken airport.

I’ve lost my beach ball and I have no one to talk to anymore.

 

14.37 p.m.

Juho came back with tickets to Dhaka. I asked why there, weren’t we supposed to go to Delhi? Apparently the A-hole from immigration had stepped into the office as Juho was about to buy the tickets and told him that we will not get a visa-on-arrival from any place in India. He was to make sure about that. Juho asked him don’t they follow regulations here, to which he answered that he is in charge, and he decides who comes into the country and who doesn’t. Nice.

He has decided to hate us for some reason, probably for wanting to go to Pakistan, and he will do everything in his power to make sure we do not get into India.

I wish for his sake, that all of the gods in this country turned a blind eye to how we were treated here yesterday and today. No one should be treated like this.

The flight to Dhaka leaves in four and a half hours, and we have no choice now but to hope for the best.  Our tuk tuk might be at the port already, but everyone has refused to help me find the port number.

There is no certainty that the Indian embassy will grant us the visas, but for leverage, we do have support from the Indian Ambassador in Helsinki, The Finnish Ambassador in Delhi, The Finnish Ambassador in Bangkok, The Embassy of India in Yangon, The Embassy of Pakistan in Bangkok, and the Ex-Ambassador of Finland to Bangkok.

The cards have been reshuffled, and new plans are laid. This was a blow we did not see coming.

It is time to let go of the past and look brightly into the future to keep up hope. Just like the youth at Circus Kathmandu, we must forgive life and hope that in the future we will meet better people along the way.

We have already forgiven all the staff at this airport, because it makes our life much lighter and we don’t want to pass on this negativity, so with a smile on our faces we board yet another plane to go see another mysterious land of Asia, Bangladesh.

18.30 p.m.

Flight leaves in 1 hour, we finally found a heart of gold. Young man at the coffee stall gave us 30 min access to internet so we bought some coffees from him. We didn’t have rupees and for some reason our credit cards got rejected. So he payed the coffees for us. Finally, heart of gold 🙂

 

Dreaming at the Himalayas

 

We left the circus of India to have a rest at foothills of the Himalayas. We had lost a lot of energy, and as of that we were once again contemplating the purpose or even the sense of this idiotic project of ours. Thankfully of the three days we had in Kathmandu, we spent two with the youngsters of Circus Kathmandu and they showed us that we need to keep going.

As we arrived at the airport of Kathmandu, we made our way straight to the place where our friends had a flea market table for the day. It just so happened that at the same place that evening was the circus workshop and performance held by Circus Kathmandu. Of course we set off to find out more about this circus group and to get straight in there mingling with the family.

Circus Kathmandu is full of amazingly talented youngsters, all of whom have been brought back from India after human trafficking or Indian circuses where they were not treated well. Circus Kathmandu has been working for 3 years already helping empower the youth who have fallen victim to people with bad will.

It is a horrible idea even to think about what it actually means and what these kids have gone through, but how they have found a new reality through circus gives a warm hope into my heart. Circus is the perfect tool for these kids, giving them a physical way of building back trust.

It has been said that trust is easily broken, but extremely difficult to get back. Doesn’t seem to be so. With the right attitude, right kind of people, and a heart full of good will, trust can be built up further than most only dream of.

Treenitauko

In the training hall they showed us what Nepalese circus is made of. In the warm up some did harder acrobatics than neither of us could do even on our best day. They were enthusiastic about learning, having teachers for their own disciplines only rarely, so they wanted to use every chance they could to suck in information.

Circus Kathmandu is the life for these youngsters. It brings them hope, it brings them a family, and it gives them something to live for. We are happy to have had the chance to spend time with them because they reminded us what life is all about.

Circus Kathmandu will be touring in Europe this summer and on thursday they fly to Oslo to accompany Circus Xanti for a month. From there they will continue to Glastonbury festival and if you have a chance go and see them, it’s a heartwarming experience.

Spending time with the circus family, Finnish friends, and eating rye bread with good cheese made us home sick. We spent most of the time eating, sleeping, and dreaming about getting home and seeing our own family. We miss everyone so much.

In the end, Sergios’ magnificent cooking and hours of sleep made even Juhos’ stomach cool down, and now we are ready for a new adventure.

 

It was a sweet dream before touching back down to India.

 

Dumb and Dumber – Getting Thorough North-East India With Sheer Luck

SingleStep

Many had speculated that the Myanmar-India crossing would be the most challenging, if not impossible, but we made it. There was no time to congratulate ourselves for we realised that there was a new problem. Visas.

We thought that our Indian visa is valid for 6 months from the time of the stamp, and not from what it says on the visa. How dumb was that.

Our Indian visas run out on the 24th of this month, and we found that out on the 20th when the border official mentioned we only have 4 days in India. We had no idea how to renew them and there was no Internet in the border town so we decide to head to Kohima, the capital of Nagaland in hopes of figuring something out.

As we had managed to sell our bicycles the night before the minivan was much easier to hire, because here they really are MINIvans. Our first leg was from Moreh to Imphal, the capital of Manipur, and we started out at 7.a.m.

The van smelled of shit, literally, and after 4 stops and 2 u-turns we had made it a total of 100m. What had originally been a little leg and arm space was suddenly packed full of clothes and people, and there would have been no chance of fitting our bicycles. At 8 a.m. we finally departed.

It was only 100 km but it took 3 hours. We rode over a few mountains and army checkpoints were everywhere. Once we got to the Imphal bus station (or the place where the buses leave to Kohima), India hit us in the face.

Before we even touched the door handle it flew wide open and ten men were pulling us and our stuff out of the van and shouting different things. We stayed adamant and didn’t let them touch anything, and we listened to nothing. If we would have given them the slightest chance, our backpacks would have scattered in ten different vans to ten different directions.

Staying put and taking a breath gave us a chance to start bargaining. Juho wanted to relieve his Bombay Belly, but we found one Bus that was surprisingly cheap and left right away. It was another 100Km, this time 4-5 hours, so we figured they would stop at some point for a rest because the bus had no toilet.

In the end it took some time to set off as the driver and his cowboy hat buddy got a quick, Bus Driving for Dummies lesson. They seemed to be first time on duty and it didn’t take long for us to realise that this was actually true. Juho stupidly didn’t use this chance to go to the toilet.

We took off and the driver drove the bus like there’s no tomorrow over every single pothole and cared not for the suspension or anything else for the matter. His idiot buddy sitting next to him tried to fix his mobile phone by testing it with his tongue wether the connections were good. He had of course connected to the phone to the car battery before doing so. To his luck, the connections were broken.

CowboyKieliBlogiin

At one point the back door hatch opened because of the force from the bouncing, and all of our stuff nearly flew out. It took a few minutes of shouting from the back for them to realise the back door had cracked open and was held only by sheer luck. Ten minutes they tried to figure out what to do and in the end Pyry went to repack everything and close the doors, because all they could do was scratch their heads and poke the bags.

At the first pharmacy that came on route the driver stopped. There was no toilet in sight so Juho still couldn’t relieve himself, but the driver got him and his buddy some pills and then the fun began. The duo popped them in their mouth just before the most beautiful serpentine mountain road started and off we were.

Nagamaisemaa

The road was high and narrow, and it was still full of bumps. Dumb didn’t seem to care that much about anything except driving fast and passing everyone, even if he couldn’t see around the corner or sometimes clearly seeing that someone was coming but trying his luck anyway.

Dumber made everything even more exiting because he took double or maybe triple the pills since he didn’t need to drive. He was high as a kite, couldn’t sit still and his mouth blabbered non-stop. The pills were obviously some amphetamine based drug that gave a good speed.

At some point he started washing the clean windshield from the inside with a wet cloth and made the visibility worse. He kept talking continuously and I’m sure if the driver had not been on speed also, he would have gotten frustrated, lost his concentration and driven off the most beautiful cliffside we’ve ever seen. We were starting to get a bit scared, but all we could do was trust that things will go well.

CowboyPeseeIkkunaaBlogiin

On the road between Imphal and Kohima, the small towns seemed idyllic with their beauty and they clearly treasured knowledge. Schools and public libraries were everywhere and all of the children had a glow of inner beauty that shone out like the setting sun. Most of the adults shared this same phenomenon. All of this beauty, and the clearly visible good heartedness made Pyry cry, but not for long.

With Beauty comes the Beast, and all of this was contrasted by the most corrupted hearts we have ever seen.

Nagaland and Manipur are not properly under the central government so there were numerous ‘tax collection points’ or military checkpoints as they like to call them. Some of them were official but mostly they were unofficial, run by local mountain gangs. It’s not like there’s another road people can take because there’s only one mountaintop road through this area.

An experienced driver would have known not to stop when someone shouted stop, but Dumb and Dumber made it very easy for them to collect their money, and their loss of spirit could be felt at every stop. Having taken drugs they were nervous and guilty, and no matter who yelled stop, they stopped in fear of being caught and did exactly as they were told. The wallet was always first to open and as there were two of them, both had to pay every time.

At most of the checkpoints some passengers used the chance to the visit the local stalls to buy chips or something to drink. Tweetle Dee and Tweetle Dumber never realised that people had hopped off the bus and always after paying, they wanted to leave asap. It wasn’t until passengers shouted for them to stop and let them back on the bus, or sometimes we needed to shout it from the back, until they realised some passengers were missing. The act of messing up time after time, being on drugs, the military, and the gangs, made them more and more nervous as the journey went on.

It didn’t help their fear when one of the unofficial tax collectors really put the fire under the duos seats. One guy with a t-shirt yelled stop, and Dumb of course stopped, even though the locals in the back told him not to. The idiot thought they wanted to ask something, but as the man came closer he took out his huge knife and demanded money. He too wanted his own share.

Chip and Dale both looked at their wallets in despair and gave the man more money than the regular checkpoint people because this guy had a knife instead of a stick. We witnessed this whole show closely, as Pyry sat right behind the driver with his elbow out the open window about 50 cm from the blade. The gang member was obviously scared also, but our super duo didn’t notice as they were shitting their pants.

After this episode the driver really started driving fast. This was probably the 15th time he had needed to open his wallet for corruption and he was running out of money. Also the paranoia was starting to kick in. He just wanted to get his day over and done with and there was still many miles to go.

Nagakyltti

After 6 hours of the fastest, most beautiful and thrilling journey of our lives, we finally arrived in Kohima where things really started to get hilariously lucky.

Dumb and Dumber didn’t know how to get out of Kohima, and by this time Juho was really sucking up his mula banda because of his Bombay Belly. Luckily some passengers had taken the same route before and they yelled directions and tried to teach the driver to go down the steep downhill in 1st gear. The driver was shitting his pants going down the steepest downhill in Kohima, and Juho was very close to literally doing the same.

Kohima was the most beautiful mountaintop city we’ve seen so far, full of people and full of trash. I guess it’s just impossible to separate the love between Beauty and the Beast. But Kohima quickly came and went.

Juhos hopes of going to the toilet vanished as the thank you, please come again sign passed and our journey continued without a stop. In the end the daring duo never stopped in Kohima for reasons unknown, and decided to continue straight to Dimapur. This ended up being the luckiest thing that happened to us, because later on we realised that without going straight to Dimapur, we would have been screwed.

The road kept winding down the mountains for the next 70Km and the sun was already setting. There were no more checkpoints except two official ones and Dumb and Dumber were glad to be on the final leg. Juho was happy to be going all the way to Dimapur, but slowly his limp back leg was growing.

Then a stroke of luck hit Juho, as tweetle dee and tweetle dumber didn’t realise the engine overheating sign had been glowing for over an hour. Cowboy was now really down and so immersed into his phone that he didn’t even realise the side mirror hit a truck we passed and nearly broke off. Soon the driver boiled the engine and the bus stalled on the uphill. This time Juho jumped at the chance and ran into the woods.

It was an amazing moment of Indian Spirit to witness that nobody was angry at the daring duo even though they had forgotten to wait for passengers, almost lost half of the luggage, drove like crazy, forgot to stop at Kohima and overheated the engine and got us stuck in the middle of nowhere. Everyone seemed to think this is normal.

Once we continued our journey it had become dark already and the idiot driver couldn’t turn on the lights. After some shouting from the back to turn them on because it was a safety issue, we stopped again so one of the passengers could fix the lamps and the rest of us got a small bite to eat. We finally ended up in Dimapur on the 21st at 10.p.m. We were exhausted after 2 days of continuous rigorous travelling.

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Dimapur

We decided to look for a hotel with a wi-fi to check out what to do about the visas and to rest for a few days. There was one hotel with wi-fi and it was expensive, but this time we were fine with paying extra to have a good rest.

After a shower and dinner we started searching the internet. We found out that overstay in India is not as easy a matter as it is in Thailand. It not just a fine, but possibly jail time, and getting an extension meant we needed to be at the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Kolkata before the visas run out.

This meant being in Kolkata by the 24th, except the office is closed on Saturday, so we had to be in Kolkata by the morning of the 23rd and Kolkata is 1244Km from Dimapur. We had just over one day to get there.

Luckily the idiot duo had taken us all the way to Dimapur, since this is the first train station from the east after the Naga mountains. If we had not accidentally been taken there we’d never have made it in time. The train from Dimapur to Kolkata takes 28 hours, and that meant we had to take the first possible train and it just happened to leave that same night at 2.30 a.m. So no rest yet.

We repacked our bags, slept for 20 minutes and headed to the train station. Naturally there were no sleepers left, but Pyry went Indian Style and conquered some Indian Army Rifle Boxes and went to sleep on top of them. After we piled all our stuff on the boxes to keep them safe, there was barely space for a midget to sleep, but we were happy. At least we had something.

We took turns on sleeping and mingling with the locals so that both got at least a little rest. Everyone wanted to talk to us, take pictures and help us in every possible way, except letting us sleep.

Intian Junassa

We made it in time to Kolkata and we went to the FRRO, but were denied an extension. No exceptions. The man on the counter encouraged us to take a visa-run to Nepal because by sheer luck, the earlier restriction of two months visiting gap has been lifted just over a week ago, and as Finnish citizens we get a visa-on-arrival when flying into Kolkata. This too has become valid only this year. So we booked ourselves tickets to Nepal for the next morning and went to sleep.

Pyry is ecstatic because he finally gets to see the mountains of Nepal and without all of this idiocy, this dream would not have been fulfilled and we would not have a chance to rest for 3 days in the serenity of the Himalayas. Today we fly to Kathmandu only to return in 3 days to meet up with our beloved tuk tuk. Oh the joy of having our own vehicle underneath once again. We will never depart from it again.

Here we are, the other Dumb and Dumber on our way to see the Himalayas.

PS. Photos have been updated into the Past, Present and Future Blog. Others will be updated soon also. Because of technical difficulties more photos for this blog will also be updated later. Now we will board the plane.

Riding the Bible Belt To India, 20.05.14, Moreh

Still with Buddha.

We left Kalaymyo on the eve of the 17th of May. Accommodation prices were outrageous so we stayed only one night. For locals one night in a hotel is around 8,000 Kyat (8 USD), while for foreigners the same room costs 40,000 Kyat (40 USD).

Foreigners always get a 10,000 Kyat extra, and if 2 foreigners take one room for two people, the price was always 40 000 K This was the same for every hotel in Kale, except the one we accidentally found on the outskirts of town that was only 35 000 Kyats. It didn’t belong to the cartel because it was a brothel, and luckily that night we were the only guests.

The next morning we finished off our unfinished dailies and spent some hours on the internet trying to sign into facebook. Then we jumped on pedals and gave few hours of sunlight to ride as far as we could with no stress as we were ready for another night in our hammocks.

We ate our dinner at the crossroads between Kalaw, Kaleymyo and Tamu and it was a feast to remember. It turned out to be by far the most expensive dinner we’ve had, totalling a whopping 7000 Kyat (7.3USD) even though the coffee was free. We did however get to eat the largest and best prawns we have ever seen in our life and the company was excellent.

We continued on towards Tamu in search of a nice quiet place next to some small stream. To our surprise this new Myanmar-India road, built in 2009, was like a desert with houses all along the road. There was no place to hang our hammocks, no stream to wash ourselves, and we started to come desperate.

Having only 10 minutes of sunlight left, we passed a monastery and decided to go ask for a place to stay. The head monk was nice enough to give us a floor for the night, but he called the local policeman to come check out our passports. The policeman informed us that normally foreigners are only allowed to sleep in the designated hotels in Kale. But since we had the head monks permission for the night, he gave us an exception.

MyanmarPojat

The next morning one of the monks asked us to play with the local kids during the day and in return we asked to stay another night. One of the children liked us so much that he wanted a picture with us and he had made us gifts. We played and sang with the ukulele and got ourselves a crowd of women and children. The monks had gone for their morning walk to gather food.

Suddenly the policeman came to tell us that the head monk had denied us a second night, and that we were to leave. The child who gave us the gifts seemed so disappointed that I decided to give him my necklace with the Amulet of Will, to show that his enthusiasm had not gone unnoticed. I gave the amulet in the hopes that he will remember for the rest of his life, that everything is possible as long as he has the Will to do it. Judging from the sparkle in his eyes, I think he understood.

Then we donated 3 Unity energy efficient cooking stoves to the head monk and he seemed a little baffled by our good will. It made us feel great to do something good even though we had been denied the second night.

UnityMunkit

 

The policeman, who was also baffled by our goodwill towards the monks and children, told us to go to a place called Kamphat Ranch Township. We would be allowed to stay there for the next night. We hopped on our bicycles and continued.

 

 

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Riding on the Bible Belt

We rode a good 35-40 miles during the heat of the day into an area that seemed like midwest of America. Churches started appearing everywhere and religious Christian music could be heard all around. We had stumbled into the Myanmar Bible Belt.

I don’t think these people have ever seen two hairy white men riding Chinese ladies bicycles Myanmar style before for everybody stopped to stare. Some smiled, some waved, but most stood still with their mouth wide open. Not literally but that’s what it felt like.

Every eye was on us, and elderly people came to us and wanted to shake our hands. This was a blast from the past, and the strangest thing I could never have imagined running into in Myanmar.

We continued on and the churches started multiplying. There were Protestants at least 3 different sorts, Presbyterians more than we could count, Baptists of numerous kind, Calvinists, Immanuel Baptists, and many we didn’t even know existed. A village of 2,000 people had at least 15 different churches, one every 30m. It’s as if every missionary had made followers to put up his own church.

We stopped for lunch at a village called Kamphat 2 and asked for directions to Kamphat Ranch Township. No one knew what it was. But as we finished our meal, one man came to talk to us. Apparently his youngest brother had wanted to meet us but spoke no English, so he had asked him to come invite us to stay at their home. We gladly took up their offer, it sounded much better than staying with the Myanmar authorities for a night.

They turned out to be a large family from the Chin tribe, and we could not have had  better last days in Myanmar. They took us into the family with open arms, and we opened our hearts to them. We spent the two days with them learning about their Chin food, Chin way of life, and Chin Christianity.

ChinPoika

The Chin people have over 200 tribes with different dialects and cultures, all being Chin and mostly Christians. This also explains the number of churches because the Chin people are used to having small, closed communities.

The Chin are happy, modest people, and speak english quite well. Many have been to Singapore or Malaysia, but have come back to their home village to get married. They don’t have much, but they don’t need much nor want much. All they want is Good Will and Gods blessing.

They are also very, very smart people. Their mind is on energy efficiency and self sufficiency. They use car batteries to light up the house and they use solar panels to charge it up. They only use energy saving lamps and LED lamps, and only during evening time. They build all of their own things and design their own energy efficient cooking stoves. We learned a lot from them.

We played football and volleyball, took part in the evening mass and the blessing of a newly opened school. It was interesting to see their worship not understanding a single word, except amen and the singing. Chin people are full of musicality.

The food and the way of life was very similar to that of the food and way of life in Finland only 50 years back, simple but loveable. Their Christianity on the other hand is unmatched anywhere else we have ever been.

It seemed the only thing that differed between us and them, is that they reflect everything on their book, and we don’t have a book. We spoke with different terms, but all of the intentions were exactly the same.

On the morning of the 20th we left our newfound family and headed for the border crossing at Tamu-Moreh. It was 37 miles of pedalling in the near 43°C heat. We made it to the border, only to meet a grumpy immigration officer who told us to turn around and go back to Kale.

We tried to explain that we had bought the permissions from Yangon for 180 USD and showed the receipt and all the Embassy papers to back it up but he refused to hear a word and commanded us to leave and go back to Kale.

We tried to to explain: “The receipt says, Tamu border pass, 2 pers.”

And he answered; “Tamu ends here, no pass. Go back to Kale”.

After 15 minutes of persuading him to call the number we were given by Seven Diamond travel agency, he finally started to listen. It turned out that our permissions were faxed only an hour earlier and he had not seen them yet. Once he had his paper from the Myanmar Authorities everything was suddenly ok.

Thank God we didn’t have to turn around and ride all the way back because we were already at the brink of heat exhaustion. After we finished with him, we noticed he was obviously not used to letting anyone with a foreign passport go thorough because we had to remind him to stamp us out.

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Moreh

We got over the border, and on the Indian side we were Invited to have lunch with Indian Army border officials. We had just had lunch on the Myanmar side to get rid of our last Kyats, but we just couldn’t turn down the offer.

Juho managed to eat it all, but Pyry was just too full to finish it all. The overeating and the heat was just too much. Pyry managed to keep it all in and ride to the police station to be stamped in by the Indian Immigration, and then it happened.

The heat, the sun and the food was just too much for Pyry, and his stomach decided to empty itself right in front of the Immmigration office window. He was on the brink of heat exhaustion. Pyry managed to keep everything from the police official and he stamped us in. We rode into town and found ourselves some cold water and a nice garage to rest before continuing.

While Pyry was sleeping, Juho tried to map out possibilities of getting to Imphal by bus. He also tried to sell our bicycles because they couldn’t fit in the minivans.

It turns out that the locals are not allowed to go to Imphal after 4 pm, and we were in no state to ride over the mountains. We took a room for the night and went around Moreh trying to sell our bikes.

“You want to buy a bicycle? Very cheap. Only for you my friend! Rare bicycles driven over the border by foreigners, you can sell for much more.” We tried everything but nobody wanted the damn things.

After dinner we came back to our room to write this blog. After half an hour 2 men came to knock on our door. They had heard we were selling our bikes and had searched a long time to find us. They knew they had a good deal because we had no time nor the will to make money off of them. We had made it quite clear that we just wanted to get rid of them quickly.

In the end we got half the money back and a good lesson of Indian bargaining. They were happy and we were happy.

Finally we are in India.

Myanmar Style

16.05.14, Kalaymyo

Three days ago we bought two bicycles from Bagan. Regular everyday ladies’s bicycles. They were a little bit old and shaggy so we took them to a repair shop to grease them up because we need them to last all the way to India.

All together we have 1 large rucksack, 1 broken backpack, 1 small backpack, two hammocks, 2 ukuleles, 1 wok, 1 orchid, many gifts we couldn’t mail and 3 Energy Efficient Cooking Stoves to give to someone in need. It’s quite a lot to fit on bicycles, but luckily we have learned something called Myanmar Style.

Myanmar Style

Myanmar Style can mean many things. It can mean stacking a motorcycle so that the driver can barely be seen. It can mean taking apart the engine to tune up some cog wheels for more torque when a truckload of rice, that has been loaded Myanmar Style, cannot be pushed by 4 men and 2 circus artists up a 2 meter uphill over the train tracks. It can mean taking apart the old dock and moving it every single day for the boat, because the river evolves. Myanmar Style doesn’t bend life to it’s will, it goes creatively with it.

In short the best way I can explain this wonderful phenomenon is that Myanmar Style is the physical counterpart of a Finnish term called Sisu. Sisu means inner strength to carry on, even if it feels like theres nothing left to give. Myanmar Style means to make things possible, even if it feels like there’s nothing to do it with.

The essence of both is that there’s always something, so we packed our bicycles and got ourselves going, Myanmar Style. That was three days ago.

We’ve used pedals, buses and riverboats to get all the way to Kalaymyo (Kale), and for me it has been the best part of Myanmar. There have been ups and downs mentally, as well as physically on our path upriver and over a mountain range.  At times the heat seemed unbearable, but we have the Sisu.

VeneenKannella

We experienced many indescribable moments that range from sleeping in a hammock in amazing mountain river scenery to a near fistfight for money that luckily changed to a fight for togetherness because of a sudden sandstorm. I finally saw with my own eyes, that even in the greediest of people lies a heart full of love. First impressions easily deceive, and the only way we can change it, is by keeping our own hearts good and pure.

Too much has happened to write it all down and there’s no point. If pictures say a thousand words, video says a lot more.

We have 120 km left to India and 15 000Km home. There are no obstacles, physical or mental, that can stop us. We’ve had Sisu since the beginning, and now we have Myanmar Style to back it up.

Past, Present and Future are all in one now. It’s quantum Physics.

(Photos will be added once we have faster internet)

 

Enlightenment, 08.05.14, Yangon

 

Today I had the most beautiful realisation I could never have imagined.

There is no evil in this world.

Myanmar Sunrise

Things are neither good nor bad, they just are. The only evil is what each and every one of us brings to this world in our own thoughts.

Every single one of us is at fault for bringing bad thoughts into this world. I bet everyone, including myself, has blamed someone or something for making this world go haywire. I have blamed money, and the greedy, feminism, chauvinism, stupidity, technology and everything imaginable. These thoughts were my reason I allowed myself to act badly.

I know now that I was wrong, and I am sorry.

While everyone is at fault, at the same time no-one is at fault, because it is natural. Life comes from water, and water itself does nothing. It only flows to where it finds balance.

Sometimes water flows so fast and so quickly that it seems to destroy itself. Water will even do a suicide jump, and leap off a cliff to find balance at the bottom of the waterfall. There ferocious white water destroys itself into mist, and the most beautiful pool of serenity cleanses everything within its vicinity. Around the waterfall life grows with such determination that few can deny a more beautiful sight.

Water continues its journey all the way down into the ocean, where it is once again lifted up into the clouds to rain down and start the rebirth of its cycle.

I believe life, the way I think, has been accelerating to the point where it has now jumped off the cliff, and it is waiting for the serenity. Monsoon season is coming and every living thing is waiting for it to clean out the old, and bring new life.

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Fragrance of Yangon, 09.05.14 (This is what Juho managed to write, before he ran out of energy)

 

While Pyry was having visions of enlightenment in the golden pagodas of Yangon, I was going thorough the agony and catharsis of diarrhoea. Of the five days we were in Yangon I was 4 days either in bed or in the bathroom vomiting and shitting liquid.

Right now I feel as light as a falling feather, and the winds have taken me. I don’t even try to go through the journeys I went inside, instead I’ll try to share how I experienced Yangon from the bottom of my bed.

I could see the city, a strange mix of massive colonial era offices hoisting Myanmar flags, minarets, temples, churches and busy construction sites. Everything cobwebbed by electrical wires and Golden Pagodas looming from every corner. Overall it seemed like a mixture of Bangkok and Paris, at least in my feverish Dagon like dreams. Yangon used to be called Rangoon, and before that, Dagon.

People were beautiful. Indian, Chinese and the Burmese all wearing skirts or loungies as they call them. We got ourselves loungies also and it is the most laid back, or lungi as we say in Finnish, piece of garment I’ve ever had. It’s especially handy if you need to run to the toilet every 5 minutes.

I could also hear the sounds, cars accelerating, muezzins calling from the minarets, street vendors yelling for the

But it’s not the Loungies, not the architecture, not all the yelling,

This country is changing, it’s changing faster than anybody realises, people seem to be overwhelmed from the new opportunities.

!!There are new scents in Yangon. Scents that rip throughout the flesh straight into the soul. There’s a smell of money and the fragrance of freedom.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish the latter one will win.

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The Tree of Life, 11.05.14

 

Once again we are baffled by the human spirit. Even in a touristic place like Bagan, there are people who care about the heart more than anything else.

We rented bicycles to go and film the sunset at the temples of Bagan, but we were hungry and stopped to eat at the first local restaurant. Once again we were in the cheapest part of town so a non-touristic restaurant was easy to find.

As we locked up our bikes we were greeted by two nice gentlemen and they asked us to sit at the table next to them. We didn’t share any language, but one of the men pointed behind the restaurant and mimed wood carving. We saw a large peacock that was sitting on a tree stump, and behind it a carving of a few roosters, all carved from one piece of wood.

The man wanted to show us his home and his masterpieces, so courteously we followed. He has carved trees for over 45 years and he had Pandas, Elephants, Tigers, Horses, Buddhas, Turtles and everything imaginable, all mind glowingly realistic and beautiful. He even carves the Burmese marionettes, the Yoké Thé.

He showed us his workshop, his tools, and even the book that shows the anatomy, poses, and movement of most of the animals he had lying around his home. Clearly one must understand every aspect of the animal, before it can be carved so that it is alive. Every single eye looked like it had a soul, and it was backed up with the perfect facial expression and muscle tensity throughout the body. A master really knows his art.

KolowinElephant

We went back to eat and the man said he had payed for our meals already. This came as a sudden surprise because we just met him, so we didn’t know what else to do but thank him.

During our lunch we decided to use the opportunity and film a scene about what had happened and dive into the mans art. He was grateful that we cared so much and in the end invited us to dinner with his family. It was a full house with The man, his wife, brother and 8 children. We brought our ukuleles and balloons, and they treated us to dinner and beer.

BaganIlmapallot

We were having a blast blasting balloons and mingling with the kids and one of The mans kids showed us his masterpiece. It was only a photo, but we could see others like it lying around.

8vPuutaiteilija

This kid is one of the smartest kids I’ve ever met, even though he has never gone to school. He could even learned to make nicer balloon animals within seconds of just seeing us make a dog and a pig, which are still the only ones we know how to make. We bonded so well that the kid gave us two elephants he had made as gifts, and they are absolutely amazing by any standard and the kid is 8.

After the lovely evening, we gave the rest of our balloons to the children and went home to sleep, only to be invited again for breakfast.

Modern Day Shamanism, 12.05.14

 

Juho has had something for over a week now that has made him feel horrible, and nothing stays in. No remedy has worked.

Yesterday and this morning the final pieces of my healing puzzle came together. Last night a beautiful burmese woman tried to sell me a hand carved scroll of the Buddhas life. I bought nothing, but what she didn’t know was she gave me the key to the last piece of understanding I needed to call myself a true Shaman seedling, and she gave it for free.

She explained to me that the scroll shows the Buddhas life. Around Buddha were the 8 days of the week with Wednesday being split into Morning and Evening, all of the animals, and the universe in it’s whole. Then she said the magic words, ‘The Buddha defeated all evil with his Love’.

This morning after breakfast I came back to the room to see all of the gifts that people have given us and with these words of Buddhas love I decided to try something. I arranged all of our gifts on Juhos’ bed in a symbolic way and started my own shamanic healing ritual.

I took our Orchid, our symbol of roots and mother earth, an placed it by the feet. On either side of the plant I placed our two newly arrived elephants so that they were marching towards the head alongside the body. Elephants never forget, and they will cry over a lost relative for weeks, sometimes even months, sometimes never being able to let go.

Elefantit marssivat sängyllä

Next to the head I placed my necklace that has 3 Buddha amulets. One where 7 nagas protect, one with unknown meaning to me, i.e. emptiness, the one that makes everything possible, and one with an enlightened Buddha.

Within this necklace I placed our turtle, our rabbit, and my amulet of fertility. For my birthday, my godson, Juhos’ son, gave me the story of the turtle and the rabbit and he told me that they are like us. I am the turtle, and Juho is the rabbit.

Fertility, penetration is a taboo these days, but without fertility there is no will to penetrate the mystery. Without love there is no will that wants to penetrate the mystery of life, and without it my godson Atlas would never have been born.

Next to these three amulets I placed the block of sandalwood, that is used to relieve muscle pain. Next to Juhos’ heart I placed Pylle, our Pirate teddybear and I finally know what he symbolises. Our Pirate teddy symbolises a treasure so immense, that it can only be found by those with the will to find it, and those who manage to find it, get more than all of the gold and diamonds put together. This treasure is called Love.

JuhoAmuletitPylle

I lit a smaller piece of sandalwood that we got already in Bangkok, and let the smoke and the fragrance clean the vicinity of Juhos bed, and left it next to its big brother, the larger block of sandalwood.

The phoenix cries tears of regeneration, and I now know why.

Tears of love, laid in full faith, shall restore life into whoever they are intended. With this intent the will of life shall be returned and they will live the full number of days that they are meant to. This is the same as the full number of days that they want to. If the will of life is lost, life is lost. The will of life must be returned to those in sickness.

I then opened my heart all the way to my soul, and started to cry. With my own heart full of love for my friend, my family, the one that without I would be alone on this Journey, I meditated. In my thought I tried to penetrate the evil within, and defeat it with the best known cure for life.

I must do all I can, otherwise my biggest childhood fear would come back to haunt me. I don’t want to be alone. A life of loneliness is a life without love.

Buddha Scroll

Chapter Three: Localmotives

Our journey from Bangkok to Yangon was a long and exciting one. We decided to take the most unexpected route and travel through the border town of Phu Nam Rom to Htee Khee. This is the newest of all border crossings between Thailand and Myanmar, and it couldn’t even be found from google maps.

Between the two towns lies 6 km of no-mans-land, where to my understanding, only natural law applies. There were a few houses along the route and these lands belong to no country. Travelling through this no-mans-land is not permitted by foot, so we hitched a ride on the back of a pick-up truck. From Htee Khee we continued our journey with a slightly larger truck all the way to Dawei.

The road, built by an Italo-Thai company, wove itself through the otherwise untouched mountain scenery along side a beautiful river. There were only a few bungalows and very small villages here and there. One village was built right on the river on some rocks, and I’m convinced that they have found the best spot to live in that area.

The journey lasted 6 hours before we found ourselves in the larger town of Dawei, which naturally resides at the delta of the Dawei river. This was our first real touch of Myanmar.

screen capture: Juho Sarno

After we got our stuff in the hotel room we went searching for food. We had walked only one block before being greeted by a local man. He wanted to get to know us and brought us to his friends restaurant and chatted with us while we had dinner. Already we felt welcomed.

We would have wanted to stay in Dawei longer to see the beautiful Andaman Sea, but we needed to get to Yangon by Monday to meet with the Ambassador of India. We knew the train takes at least 24 hours, and it was already Saturday.

We woke up the next morning at 4 am to go to the train station and while waiting for the train to leave, we accidentally started talking with the crew. The driver spoke English and looked like a proper train driver, and the mechanic was a character that could have come straight from a Miyazaki film. Pyry bonded strongly with the mechanic most likely because of their shared fascination for firm action and a beard.

Mechanic

Mechanic

When we left Dawei there were only a few empty seats in this antique train, that was built by the British over 80 years ago. The scenery was breathtaking because in this part of the world there are very, very few motor vehicles, and therefore the unpolluted nature makes the sun rise look absolutely stunning.

screen capture: Juho Sarno

We tried to sleep but the view was just too good to miss. We rode over mountains, down the valleys and through the wilderness. At one point the crew stopped the train under a mango tree to gather themselves some fruit. There was no worry about another train coming towards, because this is the only train that rides between Dawei and Ye, once a day.

At the next stop the mechanic came to give us two of the most wild mangos we’ve ever come across. We took the chance and invited ourselves into the cockpit. It was the right thing to do, for this was the best place for the view.

After a few hours of chatting and bonding we decided to go for a siesta back to our seats. By now the carriage had no empty seats, except for ours, and the floor was full of people. We sat down for the siesta, but immediately started mingling with the people.

In Finnish, to mingle is called minglata, and to say hello in Burmese, is ming la ba. Coincidentally these cultures that are so different, have such similar words for the same thing.

Suddenly the train started rattling like crazy and it felt like we had dropped off the tracks. The train stopped and when we went to see what had happened, the wheels right under us had actually dropped off the tracks.

The first thing that came to our mind was that we are in the middle of absolutely nowhere, with a train off the tracks, and we have a meeting with the Ambassador of India the next day.

Luckily the crew, with a bit of ingenuity and a simple understanding of physics, got the carriage back on tracks within 20 minutes. Stunningly good teamwork from a group of ‘rautaisia ammattilaisia’, as we say in Finnish.

After the incident we were invited back to the cockpit for a wild papaya and the journey continued through smoke and fire, literally. At this time of year forest fires could be seen here and there, but most of them were only simmering and far away.

One on the other hand was a blazing fire hiding behind a cloud of smoke. It was right next to the tracks on the opposite side of a tiny wooden bridge that had probably been built by the British.

Once the station master noticed the fire, he closed the door to the cockpit and continuously blew the horn to warn everyone on the train while shouting to the driver to pump up the throttle. We went through with a blazing speed of maybe 30 km/h.

In the midst of all the excitement we became thirsty. We tried to get our water bottle from our seat, but by this time the train was so full that there was no chance. Thankfully in this part of the world every stop has people selling fresh food and drinks, so we were ok. And the crew shared everything they had with us anyway, so no problems what so ever.

At Ye, we changed trains and said what the locals usually say when ending a conversation. Here there is no need for goodbyes, it’s just a simple ‘Thwa Bi’,  I’m going. We put our own little exclamation point at the end and left the conversation with a huge smile and a big thank you.

The next train was a little newer, probably only 70 years old, and we had reached the plains so the average speed was maybe 40-50km/h. This time it took us a hefty 3 minutes before we were bonding with the other passengers. Pyry was learning Myanmar with a man from the Shan state, and Juho was mingling with 2 navy personnel and a monk.

We ended up joining the train police with our Shan friend, meeting the crew once again, and viewing the even more spectacular sunset while dangling our peg-legs over the front of the locomotive. The cool breeze made this once again, the most comfortable spot on the train.

As darkness engulfed everything we returned to ‘our’ seats. They were not the ones we had been sitting on before because here people sit everywhere, changing places continuously to talk to different people. This literally feels like one big family.

Juho fell asleep on the seats and Pyry went on the floor like some of the locals. Juho woke up with a sore neck so I guess Pyry took the longer straw.

We entered Yangon after 46 hours of travel. Three hours by bus, six hours by pickup and thirty hours of unforgettable training. All we needed now was to find a shower before going to meet with the Ambassador of India.

So far Myanmar has been good to us. The people are friendly, women are beautiful, men are handsome, betel yummy and beer is excellent with no chemicals. The only thing lagging is the internet. So don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from us as often as before.

screen capture:  Juho Sarno