At times, up until this point, our travels had felt like a realisation of the identikit tour of Southeast Asia. Social media had spoiled the illusion that we were some of the few that had climbed into the hatch of the Củ Chi tunnels, lazed on the beaches of the Gilis or watched the sun rise over the ancient city of Angkor Wat. The pathways through Vietnam and Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand had morphed from being a real adventure into a well documented rite of passage. Like everyone else I knew, we’d been having a whale of a time. But the sense of adventure, needing a backpack rather than a wheely suitcase had so far proved elusive. So when we reached Burma, bare of precept and unsullied by expectation, I felt like we’d found the adventure.
Pre departure was sweating on the Bangkok sidewalks looking for the ‘Exchange King’; a muddle of changing crumpled USD into baht and back into pristine USD, trying to remember which piece of advice about money in Myanmar we were following. Back in Don Mueang (for the 7th time on the trip) we ate Krispy Kremes and had Starbucks, savouring the last of the western globalisation before weeks of weird snacks and the oily curries the Lonely Planet had made sound so inedible. We boarded the plane, genuinely concerned for the first time that the Visas might not be ok. That we hadn’t brought enough cash with us (or that we might misplace a wad of 1000 dollars and have to go home early).