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.

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

The Karen People

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Yesterday we went for an adventure. We got fed up just lying around in Mae Moei resting, and we had finished all the unfinished work that we needed to do. So we hopped on our little monster truck and decided to do some off-roading.

Everyone says the roads in Myanmar are really bad, and the new super snazzy highway that connects Yangon to Mandalay, is a four laned, overpriced airstrip that has nothing. It goes through nowhere, has no traffic, and apparently is completely useless. We’re better off breaking down on the old road, because at least there, we might run into someone that can help.

So as a warmup we took on the mud and the holes, and our baby bird flew like an angel. She tackled everything that was thrown in her way, except Pyry’s muscles. Sometimes he can be a bit rough while screwing around.

After the breaking in, our angel had started whining a little, so we decided to tighten her up before getting wet again after Songkran. We gave a good yank on every nut and bolt we could find, and the last one, one of the four bolts that keep the front wheel connected, snapped under Pyry’s humungous strength…

Luckily we had decided to do this in front of a shop that just happened to have nice people, with the right tools. In a jiffy they took out the old bolt and gave us a new one, slightly shorter, but seemed a bit harder, so I really hope size doesn’t matter. I think that as long as it’s hard and doesn’t break, it should work fine.

After tightening our nuts, we headed off into the mystery roads that even google maps have never heard of. In the end we found what didn’t know we were looking for, a beautiful valley between two luscious mounds. Every mans dream.

We asked if we could stay the night, and like usually, we were very welcomed. Suddenly there were dozens of kids running around, some throwing our knives around and others playing karate kid with our juggling clubs. Everyone was having a blast.

Once finished, we were so hungry that we bought some of the local eggs and made a Khai Jiao, Thai style omelette on our heavenly kitchen. I think the eggs came from the chicken that was continuously watching me cook, or then from one of the other hundreds that were freely running around. These village people let all life join in the fun, and by doing that, they stay healthy, with nutritious, natural, fresh, free food at all times.

Then we went to wash up in the mountain stream and were greeted by the only man who spoke english. He asked what we were doing, and instead of camping, he asked us to his home. This is when we found out that we had stumbled into a village that has been inhabited by the Karen Tribe for over a millennium.

He showed us to his home, and we chatted for hours. We asked about the Karen people, and they asked us about Finnish people. We laughed a lot and shared very similar views of many things, including the fact that they pride themselves on helping each other, without accepting money.

In the end Juho and Santin found their deepest connection, a true love they share together, Football. It goes to show, that we’re all basically the same.

Then we had dinner. I don’t know what it was, but it was kind of like a crab and fish stew with rice. They were amazed that in Finland we have to pay for our crabs, while they just pick them up from the river. Even the water tasted like proper water, because it came straight from the mountain stream with only a little filtering, though in Finland, the ground water doesn’t even need to be filtered.

Then we found out that the Karen food, compared to Thai food, uses no fish sauce, no sugar, and unlike in Finland, the small crabs are meant to be eaten with the shell on. That way they are much more nutritious, and taste really nice. It was like eating chips.

After our tummies looked like they were about to burst, we jumped on the pick up and went to look for the Songkran after party. This time we got so lost that even the locals didn’t know where we were.

We ended up coming back to the village, where they had pitched up a tivoli at the temple grounds, and enjoyed the old school film projector, and Pyry shot some stuffed rabbits for his godson.

Then it was time to sleep.

We woke up at the third call of the roosters, i.e. 5 am, the natural wake up time. It’s amazing how one rooster starts, then the next one joins in, then the next, then a dog, and soon the whole valley is echoing with life. It is simply the most natural wake up call, and it feels good.

We packed up, checked the oil, checked the water, and rolled off towards the sunrise. It was a wonderful experience.

Ta blu dòh mä, my brothers! You shall always be in our hearts.

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Songkran

Snakes keep popping up everywhere. Not a single day has passed for the last week or two where someone hasn’t mentioned them, or a picture hasn’t popped up somewhere, or someone hasn’t given us a Naga Buddha amulet.

Nagaland is calling hard, but alas, we must not hurry ourselves.

In the modern day with Facebook and Twitter, everything seems to go faster and faster. But life doesn’t. Life goes at it’s own speed and it does not bend to anyones will. We so want to leave Thailand already, and everybody else wants us to also, but life has different plans it seems. We must respect it.

Here are todays gifts from people we met and talked to.

Buddha protected by 7 Nagas. We were given 2, one each
Photo: Pyry Kääriä

 

Buddha with a protection prayer on the back given to Juho
Photo: Juho Sarno

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Enlightened Buddha given to Pyry
Photo: Pyry Kääriä

As well as all the niceness from the Mae Moei people, one really good thing has happened. Our tuk tuk man, Mr. Pong, may have redeemed himself and made himself one of our best assets. He managed to help get the audience with the Myanmar Embassy, and he is trying his hardest to use all of his contacts to speed up the process so we can leave.

But alas, he is only human, like all of us. We can only do our best and nothing more, though I must say, that so far what I know of the Myanmar people, they really do their best. Especially when it comes to Songkran. Most of them seem to have eyes that penetrate the soul, and they party like there’s no tomorrow, for two weeks.

We crossed the border yesterday, again, and I have to say that the old saying, ‘third time is the charm’, should be changed to, ‘first time is the charm’, so that we wouldn’t have to do everything three times. We got through no problem, but our tugboat on wheels didn’t.

The letter from the Embassy had not made it to the central government of Myanmar before Songkran, and there, the party is just too good for anyone to answer phones, so we must wait ’till the party ends.

We used our chance while in Myanmar and spent some time partying with the Myawaddyans. After getting soaked within the first ten steps we went to find some food by the river. The locals were summersaulting into the river so we decided to join them. Very nice people with very potent self made drinks.

 

Photo: Juho Sarno

Photo: Juho Sarno

 

 

Then we came back towards immigration only to be stopped by a big group of ecstatic youngsters dancing like hell and squirting water every which way. By this time the alcohol had hit, and jumping around looked like fun, so we joined in and had a blast.

 

 

Video Screenshot, Tuk Tuk Travellers

Video Screenshot, Tuk Tuk Travellers

 

Not knowing if it was 5 o’clock already we went back to immigration just incase. The border closes at 5 and we were told to return before that. We found Myanmar Immigration partying also, so we spent our last hour dancing and drinking in no-mans land with them.

 

Photo: Juho Sarno

Photo: Juho Sarno

Myanmar has taken our hearts already.

We left with huge smiles on our faces and this time, we got a phone number for one of the Immigration guys so we can call him, and make sure, that next time we will definitely get through.

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Lucky no. 13

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I think the number 13 has become lucky

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Photo: Juho Sarno

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We arrived to Bangkok 4 months ago, on December 13th, and it was the beginning of our journey in Thailand. It just happened to be a Friday.

One month later, on January the 13th, came the first lucky blow, and I’m glad it happened. Bangkok Shutdown stopped us from taking things too fast. It also changed things here in Bangkok, at least where we have been. The roads aren’t so congested, the air is cleaner, and people seem to be even happier.

And now, on Sunday, the 13th of April, we set off.

We wanted a big party when leaving, but didn’t know how to arrange one. We had almost given up hope even to leave. But by luck, the 13th of April marks the beginning of Songkran. We’ve had the western new year, the Chinese new year, and now the Buddhist new year will finally send our Klongboat of Freedom on it’s way.

Songkran is the worlds largest water fight festival, and in Myanmar, the party lasts for 2 weeks. We will set off through the biggest carwash ever, and be cleansed all the way to and through Myanmar. I can already feel the change starting.

The moon is heating up, and we can hear the snakes.

The gods of Nagaland are calling us to India.

We cross during blood moon.

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Odyssey

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First barrier broken, our own fear.

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We were as high as we could get in Thailand, at the Northern most point, smack bang in the middle of the infamous Golden Triangle. “What if we just go through here? We’re not a threat to anybody, on the contrary we want to help everyone as much as possible. What if we just ask?”.

So we did.

In the morning we were scared as hell. We decided that we are just going to try and cross the border to Myanmar. I don’t know which was scarier, the thought of actually being let through, the thought of ending up in a Myanmar jail, or all the other unknown possibilities how it could end up going horribly wrong. But we had to try.

The Thai personnel were a little iffy at first, but talking mano-a-mano, we bonded and they let us through no problem. They even shared their breakfast with us.

The Myanmar side was also close, but like we thought, it’s not so easy. They did their job like they are supposed to, and we had a good laugh. They looked through all our papers and said that we need to get one paper from the Myanmar embassy, and things should be ok.

We didn’t get too far, yet, but now we know it can be done. It is no longer a question of the unknown. We realised that we need to have no fear, in order to go through the borders. We realised that we were the ones making the border, by believing what we are told, like always.

On our way back to Chiang Mai, the rain came again. It cleared the air and now its easy to breathe. The sky was beautiful, with to nicest cotton swab jesus cloud there ever was.

Photo: Juho Sarno

Now we know what we need to do to get ourselves and the tuk tuk past the border, but this time, everything remains possible. We learned from our last mistake.

Today is a public holiday in Thailand. It means that we can rest today, and tomorrow we will walk in to the Myanmar consulate. Let’s hope they will be understanding. If not, then there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Nobody would remember Ulysses if he would have found his way home on the first try.

The Odyssey continues.

I think we might have a problem.

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We felt that we were

on top of the world

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Now we feel that we are

six feet under

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Last week we begun our journey and headed north so we’d be ready to cross the border as soon as we get the permit from the Myanmar authorities. We already had the permits twice, but couldn’t cross the border because we missed the registration. Now we have the registration and applied for a new permit. Myanmar authorities had been really helpful, and there shouldn’t be any problems.

Yesterday we finally got the answer, and it wasn’t what we were hoping for. The Buddhist new year is closing in and they asked us if we could postpone till after the Songkran. The sad part about it is that they celebrate the Water Festival for 2 weeks, starting April 12th.

It felt like a blow to the abdominals.

For the first time I lost my courage. We are almost three months late of schedule, our Myanmar visas run out by the 10th of april, we don’t have enough money to wait for three more weeks, and even worse, if we wait for three more weeks, monsoon season might catch us, and there’s no way we can cross the muddy Myanmar roads with a tuk tuk.

I felt disappointed and paralysed, I felt that I disappointed all of you who are following our journey, I felt that I disappointed my family at home, and I felt that I disappointed myself. All of our plans vanished into thin air.

I lost courage, but Pyry didn’t. He answered for the concerning authorities and contacted all our contacts in Myanmar. After that we went to have a walk, we ended up in the old city walls of Chiang Mai, clasped our hands and took a symbolic fools leap over a crumbled gap in the wall.

It made me feel better.

Today has been all about self reflection. After all, it’s not the first time we face obstacles. The only difference is that this time we had an expectation of how things would go. And as we all know, things never go the way you expect.

For me disappointment is that things are not going the way I want them to go. But life is not my playground, I never made a deal that life is fair. No matter how hard I work, I still might fuck up. Life has it’s own flow, and it can’t be harnessed. As humans we must adapt to life, not vice versa.

Now it’s time to adapt again. I have no reason to feel disappointed, not as long as I’m doing all I can to make this happen. I want to get home.

I got my courage back. There was no reason to lose it in the first place. It was just a misunderstanding in my head. A simple misunderstanding, where I thought I was in control of life.

I’m in control of my life, and there’s a big difference. I’m in charge on what I do with the circumstances. It’s still possible that we get the permission to cross the border before holidays, but if not, there’s more than just one way to hurdle obstacles. The possibility of failure is real, but it has been real all the time. The possibility of failure doesn’t mean that we are giving up. It means that we will do all we can to find a way.

Tomorrow we will go to perform in a local orphanage. We are feeling blue, but we know that nothing delights more than seeing children smile.

We have no idea of how things will turn out, but stay tuned. Somethings is definitely going to happen.

Holidays are over

Today was the first steps we took on Myanmar soil. Very exciting! If you need to do a quick visa run from Ranong, here’s a link to a good explanation on how to do it cheap by yourself. Don’t fall on the organised visa runs, they are really expensive and it’s actually quite easy to DIY. Immigration opens daily 8.00 a.m. make sure you are early as the queues get longer and boat rides more expensive the later you go. Things you need with you is a new uncreased 10 dollar bill printed after 2007, your passport and a new copy of your passport.

We spent a total of maybe 45 minutes there, mostly in the immigration office and a quick tea (which was really good). Apparently Myanmar is a big tea-loving country that has no coffee of its own, but lots of great tea. There’s even some wild tea left in this part of the world, which explains the excellent Burmese tea leaf salads we had on Phayam the other day. Apparently they use tea leaves in many recipes intended for eating instead of drinking.

After the visa run we took a bus to Chumporn and now we are sitting on the night bus going towards Bangkok. Holidays are over and the final push before departure is about to begin.

We’ve met some really nice people on our detour down south and had some excellent conversations. One of the most interesting was about an equation between power, responsibility and freedom, and how they work together to form the balance. And why the balance these days is a bit out of whack. It’s amazing what people think of when they have time to think. But lets not go there, at least not yet.

We got some comments from our empowerment blog and we are sorry about offending some people. Please don’t take offence from our thoughts. We want to be open about our thoughts and sometimes it comes out a bit bluntly. Sometimes it’s quite scary to speak your mind and the bluntness comes from trying to spill it out. They are just thoughts and nothing more and our thoughts are no more right or wrong than anyone else’s. Empowerment is about feeling good, so we are truly sorry 🙂

The time is now 22.58 and it feels like a bushel of bananas is hanging from the eyelids. Sleep is calling and we need it.

Two weeks of freshly picked visa, nine hours of bus ride, and a bagful of hope that in the next few days we will finally get our tuk tuk should be a recipe for something great. We will do our best to not under cook it or over do it, because even the best of recipes can end up being a disaster if not done with care.

Myanmar, kuume nousee.

Vuoden vaihtuessa olimme paratiisisaarella Andamaanienmerellä.

Meillä ei ollut sen enempää sähköä kuin autojakaan. Sen sijaan meillä oli rauhaa, riippumattoja, telttoja, intian valtameri ja kaskaat joiden siritys oli voimakkaampi kuin paloautojen sireenit Bangkokissa. Vuosi 2013 oli valmistelujen vuosi, vuosi 2014 on tekemisen vuosi. Välissä oli hyvä rauhoittua ja kerätä voimia. Maanantaina ollaan taas Bangkokissa ja pistetään pyörät pyörimään.

Sitä ennen pitää kuitenkin käydä Myanmarissa. Thaimaan viisumimme kaipaavat uudistamista joten käymme huomenna pikavisiitillä. Silloin emme paljoa ehdi paikkoja koluta. Mutta Burman kuume alkaa vähitellen kutittelemaan. Tähän mennessä olen ajatellut Burmaa lähinnä haasteena, miten saamme luvat järjestymään, kuinka pärjäämme tuk tukin kanssa huonokuntoisila teillä, miten selviämme kulttuurishokista, entä kuvausluvista jne. Haasteita joiden selvittämiseksi on tehnyt töitä.

Lisäksi olen rakentanut käsitykseni Burmasta toisen maailmansodan historiaan sekä Thaimaalaiseen toimintarymistelyyn Bang Rajanin varaan. Miltei odotan törmääväni viidakossa majuri Wingaten chinditeihin tai hulluun viiksiniekkaan vesipuhvelin selässä.

Vielä en ole käynyt Burmassa, mutta täällä raja-alueella one saanut sen verran hyvät maistiaiset, että olen alkanut odottaa Myanmarin-etappia, paitsi haasteena, myös vesi kielellä. Viimeisimmät päivät olen kiskonut burmalaista ruokaa, teenlehtisalaattia, inkiväärisalaattia, munacurrya, munakasta jne. Kaikki on ollut aivan jumalattoman hyvää. Ja mikä parasta, kävimme keittiön puolella opissa joten pääsemme jakamaan makuja teidän kanssanne 🙂

Nyt odotan Burmalta hyvää ruokaa ja hyvän ruoan lisäksi seikkailua. Läpikulku on vastikään auennut ulkomaalaisille. Tulemme matkustamaan paikkoihin joissa valkoiset ovat viimeksi käyneet 70 vuotta sitten, kiväärit kainaloissa. Vanhukset muistavat vielä miltä he näyttivät ja nuoriso on kuullut mahdollisuuksista, sijoituksista ja rahasta mitä valkoiset tuovat tullessaan. Sitten me saavumme paikalle Tuk Tukillamme.

Eiköhän tästä seikkailu saada aikaiseksi.

.Juho