The magic of travel. The simple joy of travel. I was riding my rental bike, sweating profusely, as I pushed the bike around the Burmese town of Mrauk U. For three hundred years plus Mrauk U served as the capital of Mrauk U Kingdom ending in the 18th century. Mrauk U is the lesser known brother to Bagan. Like Bagan, Mrauk U is populated with ancient and magnificent temples interspersed between rolling hills.
I pushed the bike down a side road, perched uncomfortably on the older bike. I leaned the bike against a tree, wiped the sweat from my face and headed toward a long stair case that ended at the top of a hill. A monastery stood at the top of the hill, my destination.
Three men sat next to the staircase, on a short wall. The first man was wearing traditional longyi, a pants-like wrap, and a white t-shirt. He clutched his phone, apparently texting away, his legs folded up and also propped up on the wall.
Opposite this man, was an older teenage monk wrapped in a deep burgundy robe. He sat, cross-legged, too cool for school. He chewed betel nut, a popular past time in Myanmar. The locals take betel nut, some lime, and wrap it in a betel leaf. Often some tobacco is mixed in. Old-timers have their teeth stained in a deep red and red stains populate the roads from constant spitting of this concoction onto the ground. And clamped to his face, appeared to be a large pair of Blue Blocker Sun Glasses. Too cool.
But what brought a smile to my face was the kid in the middle. A vendor, selling drinks, snacks, and a handful of t-shirts. This monastery was not a high traffic destination, and you could see that this kid had no concerns or worries. He sat in the shade letting the afternoon while away. And “blasting” out of his mobile phone was a Burmese song. It was very catchy and I immediately started humming away as I sat across from this trio, admiring their lethargy. The vendor sang along, sometimes enthusiastically, but other times losing his energy.
With the help of a Burmese fan, I was able to get a version of this song.
Visiting the monastery was fun and interesting, but what I will always remember is watching the kid aimlessly sing along to Yoga. This is the magic of travel.