I’m always on tenterhooks after returning home from an adventurous backpacking trip. But we have slowly adjusted back to Aussie time, acclimatized to the dry, cooler weather, and grown accustomed, again, to the space and silence we are fortunate to occupy. It’s accepting the everyday routines that get to me. I worry that the vividness of our journey will diminish and fade and we’re down the street responding to friends’ questions about our backpacking adventure with “what trip?”
But this time round, compared to last year’s Vietnam adventure, we have returned calm and content. Maybe, we say, it’s being amongst a majority Buddhist culture. The romance and resilience of Myanmar has, surprisingly, not washed off immediately. The beauty of travelling together as a family is that there are six individuals on the journey seeing a new place with their own eyes and hearing with their own ears. It makes for interesting and engaging conversations. We all remember and recall the same, but different aspects of a street or a bus journey or a meal.
Since we’ve been back, I’ve noticed that we all have a combination of romance and resilience swirling around our heads from our backpacking journey throughout Myanmar. I see in all of us, especially my four kids, a greater toughness to life’s everyday challenges and requirements. I also see the spark in their thinking when we discuss travelling the world and visiting different places. There is a knowing, or a deeper level of knowledge that they have now. More than they could ever obtain from reading a book or watching a movie. It’s real and it’s their life experience now.
I love knowing that my children enjoy travelling, even though the life of a backpacker can be grueling it is definitely adventuresome. They are not afraid to visit other continents, travelling through different countries and experiencing unique cultures, even though that’s what our daily dose of news programs would have us believe. Yes, Myanmar has had a violent past of military rulers, and it continues to have many obstacles to overcome on its way to a real democracy. But I wouldn’t have changed it-the chance to see Myanmar now before it changes into something else-for the world.
Even though we live in a multicultural society, unless you live in a suburb that is multicultural, or you wander into one and settle for a while, you don’t really ever get the opportunity to experience the different ways people are in the world. I have never been a “helicopter parent” and honestly, I dare not share some of the freedoms we gave to our girls while we were travelling because it wouldn’t make sense here. The relevance of their freedoms live in the context of what our daily life was like in Myanmar, and unless you go there yourself, the reality is that you will never really know.
Many times throughout the journey, we faced challenges. Language barriers when no one spoke English, not even a hello! Food and water considerations when hungry and thirsty, sickness when the toilets were not so pleasant, long bus trips when interconnecting buses are missed and plans need to be hatched on the spot under the beating sun, and long trekking tours into the mountains and ending in darkness without a torch. Patience, a good sense of humour and an ‘it’ll be okay’ attitude are all requirements needed when you sign up to a backpacking trip with kids in tow.
Myanmar has definitely left its mark on us. I know that we are not the same family as we were on departure day 7 September 2013. We have fallen head over heels in love with the romantic notion of backpacking and now we have a resilient travelling core that seems unbreakable and unmistakable.
I have always loved this quote, but now I can truly appreciate its meaning.
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” Mary Anne Radmacher
I realize this may not be the post you were expecting as my first, but neither was I! I had envisioned going back to the beginning: packing, fundraising, house and pet sitting, saving…but it just wasn’t to be. I was swept off my feet by Myanmar and its beautiful people as well as my amazing children and their resilient natures. I couldn’t resist the urge to write about these things now.
Stay tuned for more Thanks 🙂