Retrospective Premonition

– Read this, – she says.
– I thought of you immediately, –
she says by way of explanation
for the magazine she’s placed in my face.
So I obediently murmur through the first
few paragraphs as she continues,
– Burma,it’s horrible, just tragic! –
And I nod, yes, yes it’s (unspeakable,
intangibly tracing patterns a tattoo
outlined repetitively; just twitching;
a lizard tail still moving; a beaten dog)
–Yes! – she interrupts,
– That’s it, that’s what they say, exactly!
Just less poetically than you put it, and –
(the place I had visited, the people I had met,
they had been past pain)

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Excuses, excuses; no drinking during the election & other interesting causes

So there’s two more days worth of Burmese adventures I meant to write up… Highlights involve an intense trek (for me, and my weak lame lungs – it was only six hours of hiking while I was sick) to several Hill Tribe villages, a water buffalo market, and a waterfall outside of Kengtung, and managing to find a movie theatre in Kengtung (wooden shack showing Die Hard 3 – it was weird).

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DAY THREE: Border Run to (and into) Burma

Having lost my towel in Pai at the Reggae Festival (no, I can’t explain how that happened; I didn’t touch the inside pocket of my bag all evening and it was securely nestled inside – nothing else went missing from my bag, not my wallet, not my camera, nothing but the towel – and it simply vanished) and thereby broken the ultimate Rule of Backpacking (see: Douglas Adams) I’ve begun to pay more attention to the Maxims of Travel…

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DAY TWO: Border Run to (and into) Burma

I woke the next morning before my alarm - and hit snooze for several hours.

For the first time since I’d left home I had absolutely no desire to go out and explore the town I was in; no compulsion to wander the streets and no wish to meet people.

I went out to the balcony and watched the street below, trying to rally myself. I was alienated, not threatened. Lonely, not in danger. Under-the-weather, not truly ill. I couldn’t remember why I’d come to Burma (I went back through the reasons that I had given my family and friends, what the grad students and aid workers had told me: friendly chatty locals - no; exotic good food: no; an inside look at an isolated region of an isolated country: not yet, really; supporting the local economy: at least) but, given that I was here already - I ought to at least do it properly. I’d have a walk through the market, find at least one temple and a tea house and a restaurant at which I could try some of the Burmese dishes I’d been recommended.

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DAY ONE: Border Run to (and into) Burma

Tachilek is the sort of town where the architecture far outshines the furnishings.”It’s a border town,” I’d been warned, “don’t expect too much.”

I’d pictured a Tijuana, full of embroidered sarongs rather than piñatas, tinsel Buddhas rather than dayglow Christs; when I arrived I felt more like I’d stepped onto the moon. It was, fittingly enough, gray and overcast without as much as the suggestion of a breeze. Not only were the people and the cars mysteriously missing (the roads were more than wide enough but in two days in Tachilek I saw perhaps ten cars – most of those parked) there was no sense of desperate fervor. The buildings were too large for the inhabitants, the clothes too big for their wearers. Tachilek resembled a colonial ghost town – faded derelict colonial architecture and rusty motorbikes with no review mirrors.

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