Burma:What strikes you first about Burma is the thanaka. This is the ground up tree bark paste that nearly everyone put on their cheeks to cool them and prevent sunburn. While I was walking between the two main pagodas in Yangon, a group of schoolchildren loved looking at their photos with it.
One day after eating lunch, I found a group playing chinlone who invited me to join them after I watched them for several minutes. It seemed like a version of hacky sack. Without hesitation, I took of my shoes and joined the game.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that chin lone is a combination of sport and dance, a team sport with no opposing team. The focus is not on winning, but rather on how beautifully one plays. While I was able to keep the ball up (for the most part), I highly doubt anyone was impressed by my ‘beautiful’ game. After playing for about 10 minutes in the 100 degree weather, I was fried.
Over 2000 temples, pagodas, and shrines are in the city of Bagan today. These are what is leftover from over 10,000 constructed beginning in the 10th century.
While most SASers went north, I chose to stay in the south and explore Kerala in southwestern India. My first day was spent with my travel writing class on a houseboat around the Alleppey backwaters. It was a fantastic time with our professor – writing about our time on the water as we enjoyed cumin fried bananas.
I stayed every night in India with a homestay. With the help of one of my families, I had a series of three Kerala style cooking classes in which I made three different kinds of curries with fish bought from the local market.
On my final night, my homestay directed me to a Kathakali theatre. This is a local dance-drama known for its make-up, costumes, and body movement (no words). What amazed me most was the style of dance – giving particular emphasis to eyes, nose, and lips. Watching actors dance with their face was unreal.