As a Canadian, I’m used to rules and guidelines. Almost every aspect of our lives is regulated in some way, making it easy to know what to expect in day to day life. There is a predictable experience and quality of a product. There are also regulations about where businesses are physically established.
I’ve been keeping my eyes open for differences along my way. Those are the details that are easiest to spot when you first visiting a place with a different climate, cuisine, religion, and laws than your own. More often than not though, after some time to adjust to the new surroundings, in big cities and small villages, there are similarities just under the surface.
Finding accommodation is my least favorite thing to do while on the road. Balancing cleanliness, cost, location, amenities and atmosphere is challenging and time consuming – and I’ve very rarely hit a high score in all those categories. I have found that the overall experience, or one thing that is particularly interesting about a place can outweigh those cobwebs lingering in the corner of the ceiling. If not for experience, why travel in the first place?
Ten days later and I am still trying to digest the five-day recce to Yangon. It is a rare pleasure to find oneself in a place where you stick out like a sore thumb and nobody cares. Granted it’s not high season – with temperatures in the high thirties making for sticky days and an extreme challenge being outdoors … but still the experience of walking through busy streets, and crowded and colorful markets without being hassled or hustled is quite rare. Au contraire everyone is going about their business with a certain peacefulness and ease that I certainly have not experienced in any other city with close to 5 million people…