musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Burmese Buzz

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Call it the Burmese Buzz, or the Myanmar Mood, but the feeling just won’t go away. It’s that heady, slightly intoxicating feeling that I get after experiencing yet another memorable, life-affirming trip. I’ve been back in Bangkok for three days now, but I’m still feeling Myanmar, thinking Myanmar, missing Myanmar.

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Which is odd, in a way; I’ve visited Myanmar over 20 times at this point, and the travelling back and forth has become a relatively routine matter. Once I’m back in Bangkok, I manage to switch from travel mode to work mode almost immediately, heading straight from the airport to my bookshop, taking only a short detour to drop off bags at my apartment. I stop trying to speak phrases in Burmese and revert back to Thai. But that’s sometimes easier said than done; after getting off the airport rail link in Bangkok on Tuesday I asked a motorcycle taxi driver to hold my bag, but spoke in Burmese. The synapses finally clicked and I managed to speak the correct language the second time around, but I still felt out of sorts.

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Maybe that was indication that acclimating back to daily life in Bangkok wasn’t going to be as smooth and effortless this time around, and perhaps the withdrawal symptoms would be more acute. I feel like I really bonded closer with many of my friends in Myanmar this time, so leaving them all behind and returning to Thailand has left me feeling sadder and more wistful than usual. I keep thinking about the good times and the little things that make each trip so special: I yearn for another bowl of monhinga for breakfast; I want to tie on a longyi and hop on my bike; meet friends and hang out on 90th Street in Mandalay; stop at Aye Myit Tar for curry and beer and the let the waiters fuss over me; visit the delightful kids and mischievous monks at the school and monastery in Tat Ein village. But alas, vacation time has ended and I really must try and put all that behind me for now. But only for a while.

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One of the albums on the MP3 music player that I take on my trips is Sin Za Ba by Linn Linn. I played that a lot during my eleven days in Myanmar and I’ve listened to it every day since I returned. I only understand a fraction of the lyrics in the songs, but the melodic music evokes a special mood and reminds me of the days I spent in the country. I listen to these songs and it feels like I’m back in Mandalay. Like most great music, the songs on Sin Za Ba resonate with me, soothe me, and inspire me.

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I guess it’s not too soon to start thinking about the next trip. I won’t be able to return for another seven or eight months, but at least I can start the process of mentally planning it all. Better the Burmese Buzz than the Burmese Blues.

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