TELLING IT HOW IT IS SINCE 1977
This blog initially started out as what I intended to be a blog about my travels in Europe, but as my sense for adventure heightened, I found myself travelling further and to what I considered more exotic locations, which is how I find myself in Yangon Myanmar for the fourth time with the intention of basing myself here until November of this year.
At the age of thirty I started thinking about cat's and mortgages, so I decided to utilise the Austrian passport that I had never used and booked a one way ticket to Europe. I started in Austria where I did a German course in Innsbruck, but that got me nowhere, and I got addicted to German Soap Opera's instead.
From there I found a job in Zurich, Switzerland working in Hedge Fund operations. That lasted for two years before the financial crisis hit. Not only was it difficult to get another job, but I was no longer enthusiastic about the soul sucking world of finance. So I moved back to my roots and started doing ski seasons in St Anton, Austria.
At first I would just do the season and work somewhere else for the remainder of the year, but I felt that I was not going forward, and realised that I actually do like not only travelling, but living in different places and exploring the cultures.
In 2013 I did my first true solo adventure, starting 3 months backpacking in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, then travelling up to Chiapas and then down through Guatemala, up through Belize and then finishing off with The Yucatan Peninsula before making my way home. And that is when things started to escalate.
The following year after the ski season was finished, I spent three months working in Vienna before I went to Manhattan and did a travel writing course as I felt it was time to put my adventures and photos into a coherent form. After Manhattan I spent three months in Mexico working on my website and writing before I got bored and went back to Europe. It was in this time that my first article (about Puerto Escondido) was picked up by The Huffington Post.
After another season worked, I decided on this occasion to head to Norway as I had always been curious about Scandinavia, and well, my favourite ski racer is from Norway, so why not? When people would ask what brought me to Norway I would simply say, "The men are tall and the money is good". No disputing that.
After doing a trip around Norway I travelled to South East Asia for the first time, but Myanmar was a priority on my list, so after 3 weeks in Krabi I decided to venture onward and head to Yangon. I was extremely um, lucky to have a contact here through my editor at Fathom Away in New York and was shown around in a way that very few tourists get to experience. I had never had a travel experience like that, and was enamoured by the land and when I departed felt that I had left a huge piece of myself behind that feeling did not subside. Read about that here.
In 2016 at the end of another season I decided that before I invested more time in Myanmar and reunited with my missing piece, I would finish off Central America, so i travelled up overland from Colombia to Nicaragua which was a whole new adventure I had not been expecting to say the least. I got robbed and attacked on the same evening, and found that it shook the foundations of this brave solo female traveller image I had constructed. Next thing you know I was staying in busy hostels, latching on to other people and well, doing things I should have done at 23. And it made me yearn for Myanmar even more. Myanmar has never made me feel unsafe or lonely. On the contrary it has humbled me and filled me with warmth.
So after returning from Colombia I booked my flights back to Myanmar. I spent some time in Yangon, then travelled to Ngwe Saung beach where instead of staying 2 days I stayed for 21. Even though it was rainy season and there was no electricity during the day I was more than content to lie in a hammock, do moto taxi tours and work on my Burmese. By the end of the visit I could say "hello" in three different ways. Following Ngwe Saung, I flew to Malaysia with the intention of travelling back up overland to Yangon through the South. And I did just that, and it was mind blowing. Again the remorse kicked straight in as I was heading home.
So after the season just completed I came straight back. I had long ago figured that it is not about ticking off countries but getting deeper into them. I had also experienced first hand how far a little of the language can get you. So I enrolled in an intensive Burmese language course under John Okell. I am sure that I was the only waitress amongst Yale, Harvard, Cambridge and Cornell PhD's, but that did not stop me putting my soul into it, and after 8 days the script was starting to make sense.
During the two week course I quite readily concluded that there was no point returning to Europe for three months, and that it was more beneficial to try and find a way to sustain myself here, as not consolidating the on the language would be unfortunate to say the least.
Aside from the language (and practising it with my street vendors) the city never fails to enchant me. The dogs, the potholes, the cheap whisky, the colonial buildings, the beautiful people (amongst other things) make me marvel every day. I feel that I have made the right decision, albeit a hard and lonely one.