Monday, October 17, 2016

缅甸篇:千万不要一个人旅行。

【去.......不去........去.........不去.....】临行前的歇斯底里。

缅甸不是什么著名的旅游胜地,2012年才开放的一个国家 - 短短的5年时间怎么可以跟已经开发成熟的旅游胜地相比?一个人这样去了之后有人会说英文吗?吃方面怎么办?我就一个小姑娘会怎样吗?我什么都还没订好、行程什么的都是free style,我要在那里干嘛?网速那么慢 (那里有网络吗?),我怎么跟外界求救沟通?....etc ....etc 最重要的是,出发前看过的那部老电影Over Rangoon让我整个腰椎冷了半截 ,感觉这个国家随时都有厮杀的情况会出现。

出发前我告诉闺蜜: If I come back alive, we shall celebrate。

我是真的,很。怕。。。什么都。怕。。

* * *

你还记得小时候戒奶瓶、奶嘴的那份勇气吗?跌倒了擦干流血的膝盖继续欢乐像没事一样...暗恋学长结果被拒绝,回家找朋友包两个小时的电话粥第二天继续精彩。小时候那种天不怕地不怕的勇气,那种越战越勇的精神...叙述起来,还真的以为那是另一个人。我似乎都已经忘了,那是曾经的我自己。

今天,很多年过去了,怕的事情越来越多 - 怕失败、怕丢脸、怕高、怕累、怕胖。怕没钱、怕没电、怕没网络。做什么事都畏首畏尾,裹足不前一阵子之后决定原地踏步 -- Play Safe。不知道哪一年学来的一句粗话,从此都小心翼翼的生活,深怕走错一步就完了。怕得有时连面对恐惧的能力都没有了。习惯了安全、依赖安逸,结果总是为小事纠结。成了一个名副其实的城市囚....

说也奇怪,人长大了不应该是越来越勇敢的吗?怎么感觉上不是这么一回事?“这种被自己设的局限囚禁的感觉让我觉得很无力。”出发缅甸之前我这样跟一个好朋友说。于是,不管多怕,我都决定了要面对恐惧,把自己逼到一个死角,唤醒那个沉睡的勇气。

* * *
在缅甸8天,老实说第二天我就给好朋友发了短信说我想退掉之前定好的行程回家了 - 我是怕的,并且越想越怕... 我说,被打败了又怎样?下一次再试就好了,总会成功的。但姐姐现在以过来人的身份告诉你,你永远都不会有下一次。这一次走了,你就是一个认输,你就是一个怕!那你就白来了....

其实说到这里,到底一个人旅行是在怕什么?更多时候,其实都在怕孤独 - 总觉得旅行就是要一群人,要分享,要成群 - 那是社会和脸书给我们的刻板印象,说到底就是一个心魔。一个人也许孤单,但一群人也未必不会。孤独可以怕,但也可以解决。这世上并不是只有跟一群人实体在一起的时候才不会觉得孤单的。网路发达不是用来摆着的,你要能够驾驭视讯,远距离爱情都能开花结果...最后我悟出的就是:心病还是要心药医。你若是有办法自得其乐,那你就happy holidays啦!你若是不能,回程的机票也不是太贵的。

我战胜了solo trip的第一道防线,完全性的被自己的勇气激励着。挨过仰光,继续了我在缅甸接下来的旅程。

* * *
战胜了孤独,我来到帕安。眼前必须挑战的是驾。驭。陌。生。

帕安不是一个热门的景点,该有的基本旅游条件都不是太完善的 - 驱车6小时来到帕安,没人听得懂英文。要打车到旅店,我孤身一人,除非是愿意当凯子多付钱被骗 - 不然就是拖着行李可怜的走10公里的路。我在车上很努力的观察每一个人,试图在某人的脸上看见“会讲英文”这四个字。都说了帕安是一个没人来的地方,旅客好少好少 ...整辆巴士都充满着缅甸人。

终于在人海茫茫看见一个昏睡中的高个儿,鼻子挺的像洋人。于是冲破自己面对陌生的恐惧,坐到他身边问了 “English?”

接下来限制级的内容就跳过不提了......但我只能说因为冲破了这到害怕陌生的防线。我脸书上现在多了一群好朋友 - 还在一个山洞里认识了一个业余的伦敦摄影师,让我看见不一样的摄影风格,突破了我在摄影这件事上的瓶颈。也造就了我在后来蒲甘拍了那堆让自己都重新恋上自己的作品。生活有时候会让人陷入一种死胡同,很郁闷的感觉。就因为认识了新朋友,突然觉得天空都为我放晴了....

生活在城市久了,很多人都在自己的周围驻了一道高墙。面对陌生人都不再放开心怀好好做自己,甚至必须在不同的人、环境、事物的情况下,带着不一样的面具生活着。最后连最初的自己都已经忘记了....只有在这种异地,失去了所有可以依赖的安逸,那瞬间的你自己才会得到真正的释放....重新找回自己的那瞬间,除了感动还是感动,像找回失连的双生姐姐一样....
* * *

每个人都说来到蒲甘,必须看日出。但你知道,要看日出,要起很早.....而且,蒲甘的日出不是那么容易看的...要爬很高。

首先,我很怕高。再来,我很懒。上一次早上抹黑起床是我17岁的时候了....

第一天骑着单车来到一个叫做Bulethi的宝塔。那已经是日落的时间了,只想要看看环境再决定第二天要不要来看明天的日出。带了相机、脚架,兴致勃勃。结果一看那宝塔也太。恐。怖。了吧!差不多两层楼高的宝塔,必须从宝塔外围的石头阶梯上爬上去...总之就是一个危险。阶梯差不多就一个小脚掌那么宽,没有扶手!随时都可能丧命的感觉。我还笨的背着脚架...

结果那天什么都没拍,保命都来不及了还拍!但心里就是一个不爽:我要找到更好的宝塔,算是给自己的跋山涉水做一个交代...

第二天爬的是一个荒山里面的宝塔,但忘了把脚架带出来,结果没把自己心目中想拍的样子拍出来。于是把自己原本应该回家的行程再延迟了一天,下定决心第三天一定要把日出拍好。

结果第三天,终于也在我屡试不爽的毅力下,我拍到了人生中第一个日出.....


呃,我不是说了我怕高?怕懒?怕累?怕什么的?

原来这么专注的、努力的、疯狂的去追求一个愿望,是一件那么自由的一件事。就像我小时候为了考上好中学愿意通宵不睡的毅力,我以为随着年龄跟体力消逝,这种事已经跟我没关系了。体力可以练、毅力可以培养,重点就是你到底多有决心?等值交易,就是你付出多少努力就得到多少快乐。看见别人的好消息,选择妒忌还是自己努力争取。现在的我,选择了后者,成为了更快乐更正面的小妮子。旅行,让你用一个全新的角度去认识新的国家,更重要的其实是认识你自己。一个人旅行让你自由的跟自己对话,去享受那个me time,更了解自己要的是什么,怎样成为更好、更健康的人。

我说,你千万都不要一个人去旅行,因为这件事。会。上。瘾。。。。。

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pagoda-hopping in Bagan by Electric Bike: Myanmar Photo Blog

"Can I walk from here to the pagodas?" I asked.

"OH NO! (Waving his hand) Too far... Too far... 7 kilometers..." The little boy I bumped into at a motorbike shop said. " E-bike.. E-bike".

I was skeptical... I have never ridden on a motor bike before. I have ridden on the back of motorbikes, but I had never actually been the driver (corrected by my past motorbike drivers who insisted that I have ridden on motorbikes before, just not the driver). The E-bike he pointed to me looks like a "real thing" and I didn't think I could handle by myself. But this is my first day in Old Bagan and I WANTED to see the pagodas so badly. I said to the boy, "Teach me".

This is how an e-bike look like.
To my surprise, I got a hang of handling an electric bike in less than 10 minutes of training. It felt like riding a heavier bicycle without having to pedal it. It ran at 20-30 km/hr. Nice and slow. I paid 6,000 kyats for rental and headed right to the direction where I got myself started with my pagoda-hopping adventure!

It was rainy the past two days so the path was a little muddy.
But, who cares! 
Puddles? Not a problem! 
Put on your sandals and deal with the mud!
Don't wear white, though.
Isn't this lovely?
Pagodas were EVERYWHERE!!  Left, right, back, front!!!
A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Myanmar in August and some pagodas got hit on the top - so, some re-construction works is currently happening. Mostly on the top.



Some bigger pagodas which cars/tourist coaches could reach.
Having enough seen of the outside of the pagodas - which honestly looked pretty similar from pagoda to pagoda except for the size and accessibility. The following are a bunch of pictures showing the inside of the pagodas that I have stopped by and visited - In a nutshell, every pagoda, big or small, has a buddha statue in it. For some (bigger) pagodas, there is a pagoda caretaker sitting in the pagoda helping you out with getting your lower body covered with longyi if you are wearing shorts or making sure you remove your shoes before entering. No shoes or shorts is allowed in these pagoda temples. 

These pagoda caretakers were also doing a little bit of business selling their sand paintings. Just be nice and patient when you are repeatedly being shown the same sand paintings again and again. They are really low income earners trying to make a little bit more to live comfortably - they barely made USD100 a month for living - They are okay people and helped me out with directions even I did not end up buying anything.

Giant buddha statue with a little construction works happening at the side.

Golden buddha.
Caretaker and buddha statue.
Standing buddha statue and a police man who showed me the best pagoda to go for sunrise.
A hidden one.
Some other pagodas with slightly unique designs:
Shwe Zi Gon pagoda - just 600 meters away from where I lived.
Bu Paya temple right by the Ayerwaddy river.
And also the candid moments with beautiful Burmese people:
I later found out that she was actually hiding to speak on the phone. She works by the river.
Monk making prayer.
Construction workers and policeman.
Burmese ladies selling snacks. Good balancing skill, hur?
Grandma making prayer.




The sole reason why I decided to go to Myanmar was because I have always wanted to visit Bagan in person - where some 2000 pagodas stood mightily for hundreds of years from the early civilization. Even though I still don't understand why the king has to build so many pagodas/temples and many pagodas were just a few centimeters away. Would it be possible that there might be a secret message hidden behind the locations of these pagodas? Maybe I would find out the message when I got to the top...

This morning, I self-forced to wake up at 4.30am for the worldly Bagan sunrise - Shwe San Daw pagado it is I was heading to - which was about 10 minutes bike ride from where I lived. It was cold riding in the morning and I was hungry. With me, I had my camera, bags and tripod. The thought of giving up and sleep in was fighting on my mind against the urge to see the sunrise ten times on my way to the pagoda. The road was empty and I kinda doubted on my decision to wake up this early. Until I arrived at the spot, and little did I know that the reward was well worth anything it took to bring me there in Bagan.




Thank you Bagan for your greatness. I appreciate that I got to see this phenomenal sunrise in person during my lifetime. I doubt everyone has the luxury to travel like me or to be blessed with the courage to explore an exotic plain by myself just all out of spontaneity. And just because I am alone, I get to experience this timeless gem of Asia from a completely different perspective. Thank you again, Bagan, for being charming Bagan - I am not sure if this is the message that THE ONE who built these pagodas was trying to convey to his future generations, but I learn today, to appreciate nature, to give back to nature, to be nice to people, to be genuine and work hard to be rewarded. 

Thank you Bagan... till next time!