I woke up at 6:30 to see the sunrise. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see much because there were a bunch of trees in the way…
For breakfast we had an assortment of delicious food. We each got unlimited pieces of deep-fried bread (a type of Burmese chapati), and shared bowls of Burmese guacamole, fruit, and pumpkin. The idea was to take a piece of the bread, fill it with whatever you wanted, and eat it like a taco. Such an amazing breakfast!
SIDE NOTE: Apparently Americans are the only ones who say guac. When I first said it a few weeks ago, I was with Hannah (who is from the UK), and she looked at me like I was crazy. I have since asked around to see if anyone else says guac (I asked Dutch, French, other UK-ers, and Germans), and everyone is always like ummmm no. It’s guacamole. SO YEAH! CRAZY RIGHT??! They say the WHOLE WORD!!
At 8, it was time for day 2 to begin. My backpack somehow felt heavier than it did the day before, even though nothing new was added.
We trekked through more fields– ginger, chili, rice– and more villages.
As we stopped at a ginger field, I thought about how vastly different these farmers’ lifestyles are to mine. They work in the field all day, shoveling dirt, collecting ginger, and transport everything with buffalo and carts. But then I realized that all the “exotic” or “superfood” products we get in the US are grown by people like this. I guess it never really occurred to me, in a concrete way, how farmers really live and how my groceries get to me.
We kept walking, and eventually stopped at one village for lunch. We all got fried noodles, and promptly passed out for a little siesta.
We kept going after about an hour of rest. We trekked through more ginger and chili fields. It’s insane how much chili they grow here. According to our guide, it’s the second most exported crop in Myanmar. The first is rice.
We got to a river, and our guide told us we could swim in it. There were a bunch of people around, working and playing. The men were weaving bamboo baskets. This is when I realized how unbalanced the gender roles are here. The women are out in the hot sun, working in the fields all day, picking ginger and chili, while the men sit by the river, in the shade, weaving bamboo baskets.
Anyway, we all got in our bathing suits (Hannah and I probably offended the entire village with our bikinis) and swam for a bit. The water was cold, definitely the coldest water I’ve been in since coming to SE Asia, but refreshing.
Once we dried off and got back into our dirty trekking clothes, we walked up a steep hill, then across a few more fields before reaching our final destination: the monastery. We would be sleeping here tonight.
The rest of the tour groups started trickling in and we all watched the sunset together again. As we were sitting there, gazing at the lowering sun, I realized how lucky and happy I am. I literally had nothing to stress about. A part of me felt a bit guilty for this. I felt like if I’m really living, I should be worried about something. But in that moment, I was just happy.
Dinner was another delicious variety of Burmese food.
We started with a pumpkin soup, which I really enjoyed until I realized it had bits of peanuts in it. I’m really happy there was only a little bit of it and that I stopped eating it before I reached the point of no return (e.g. getting hives or throwing up).
We had a bunch of different vegetable dishes, a chicken dish (which I obv didn’t eat), and (A LOT) of rice.
After dinner we played a card game called 31. It’s like 21, but you go up to 31 points. I’m pretty bad at learning new card games, but this one was actually really simple– too simple, because it became boring after about 3 rounds.
We were all dead by 8:30, and I went to bed around 9.