As I lay in bed on my final night in Myanmar, I can’t help but feel sad.  Tomorrow I won’t be here anymore.  I knew I was going to love Myanmar before I ever stepped foot on the land.  I felt something special and something strong through the research and stories I had read.  I saw the pictures that looked unreal and knew I had to see them with my own eyes.  The gravity that pulls me to this culture is like nothing I have ever felt before.

The Burmese lifestyle is far less than glamorous.  It’s a poor country striving to better themselves and make a name in the world. Their economy has suffered for so many years and the poverty level is deep.  The average income is less than $5 USD per day.  Living conditions are nothing to write home about.  Most Burmese work every single day without a break.  They sleep on the floor with a few blankets for comfort and bathe and wash their clothes in less than sanitary water.   Very few children have the opportunity for education.  They eat what they can afford, which most times is not much more than some eggs, rice and hopefully a little meat.  With all that being said I have honestly never met a more loving and happy people in my entire life.

The Burmese culture is so unique and special.  They truly are the most amazing people I have ever met.  Since the first day I arrived in Myanmar I have felt the most welcoming, unconditional love. Countless times I have been approached by a stranger who wanted to help me, guide me and get to know me.  I have been welcomed into homes, showered with gifts, shared unspoken love and have never felt alone.  Many times I have found myself in situations where I cannot communicate but that has never created a wall for me.  No one has ever gave up on me because we couldn’t speak the same language. In the Burmese culture love goes beyond language and communication and plows through all barriers.

The love that is expressed through non verbal communication is so raw.  You’re stripped of all that is comfortable for you and you’re left with your core.  The true human core.  Having to rely on body language and speaking without words has changed my life and shown me that caring for someone goes deeper than words and language.  In Myanmar love is felt and shown in every space and dark corner.  The Burmese are never afraid to be affectionate with the same gender.  Men are not afraid to be close to or embrace their male friends and family.   They keep each other close at all times.  Woman hold hands or link arms when walking together.  It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen or felt. Many woman and girls have taken my hand, linked my arm and guided me or helped me when I was lost or in need of assistance.

I have been taken in and called family.  I’ve been shown around town by a group of young boys who treated me as if I were their older sister and even protected me when needed.  I’ve been called a best friend of girls I just met and countless times I have been told I was beautiful.  To me the Burmese are beautiful. I love the way they dress and how incredibly tiny they are.  I love their dark skin and their long hair and the paint they wear on their skin.  I love their big genuine smiles that light the sky for me.  I love when I wave at them and it ignites their smiles and then they excitedly wave back at me.  I love how cute they are when they ask for a picture.  I love that the kids just want to play and are full of energy and bursting with character and so hungry for knowledge.  I love that they never forget my name or my face and are always so happy to see me.

The people and culture of Myanmar will never leave my heart or my soul.  I have truly been impacted by my genuine experiences here.  I have felt love like I have never felt love before.  It’s not forced, it’s not fake, it doesn’t change from day to day here.  Love is the core of this country which holds the people together in an unbreakable bond between family, friends, neighbors and even the foreigner on the street.  Everyday I was here I was touched by the kindness of a local and it fed my soul in a way that I will never be able to fully explain.  If I ever had lost faith in the power of love, it’s definitely restored.

Thank you Myanmar.  Thank you to the countless connections and friendships I have made in my very short stay.  Thank you for helping my understand what life is truly about and reminding me that all you really need is love.  It’s not goodbye Myanmar, it’s see you soon.  You have filled my heart with love and I will take you with me until I return.