landscape image - Burma, the golden shadow
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  • Fly to: Yangon, Burma

  • Internal Transfer: 4 flights to Thandwe, Heho, Mandalay & Bagan

  • Visa required: Yes if British

  • Currency:Myanmar Kyat (MMK)

  • Time Zone:+6hrs30mins GMT

  • Journal:Click here

Day 6, 11/02/11: Burma - The Golden Shadow

After an indulgent buffet style breakfast we headed out on small boats to a beautiful turquoise inlet. With the sun shining its warmth upon the crystal clear waters the scene was divine; the reef underneath home to a mass of colourful fish visible as we gently drifted across the swells.

In a secluded bay, the boats dropped anchor. I'd set out not wanting to even dip a toe in this water, scared by the idea of having fish swim around my legs or worse still being dragged under by a shark or some yet to be discovered, crude sea monster. As the boat gently swayed back and forth my decision was made; grabbing a pair of goggles I stepped off the boats ladder and was soon submerged in a sea of warmth.

The water here is curiously salty, more so than anywhere I've previously encountered, making for a great buoyancy aid.

As I paddled along, I dipped my head below the surface; just to see what lies beneath, the coral here was spectacular. Like precious gemstones I felt the lure, the draw to stay with & look further into each natural pocket, each curve and crevasse of the rock itself. With a gentle burst of bubbles a school of small, glittering blue fish swam out - I was captivated, though conscious also not to inhale any of them.

With my head now above water, glancing, scanning the area like a crocodile I noticed Liz, Jo & Paula over by the rocks; with no great desire to join them I turned and began floating backwards, gently sculling keeping rhythm with the water & its natural flow.

At some point, for a second or maybe more I think I must've zoned out. The water was so comforting, so supportive that a relaxed sense filled my body. As I lay back looking at the almighty sky above I felt a conflicting force, the harmony and rhythm that had previously consumed me now seemed distorted. With a levelled head I noticed Liz snorkelling beneath the surface, although intently focused she appeared to be on a direct collision course with me.

I lay back and gently sculled, keeping enough distance to remain out of strike. As she moved closer, I gently moved further, it was actually therapeutic. The peace was soon broken as Liz surged forward, erupted into a fit of laughter & inhaled all the salty water in her snorkel, this in turn meant I was now laughing, bobbing & spluttering.

With our composure intact, Liz informed me that Paula & Joanne had offered to buy her a large Scotch if she could covertly grab my feet and make me scream - nice!

Our boats took us onto a small, sand island. This island was tiny, as I walked the shore I found myself captivated by the rock formations, the coral, the stones and shells. Time stood still or at least I no longer felt in a relationship with it, instead my mind wandered, people from my past filled my present and in the pureness of light here they stood, ever present, as if they had always been.

A cocktail of emotions swirled and mixed; emotions I haven't felt or been able to recognise in a very long time. Hurt, anger, sadness, loss but to my surprise these were held in balance with feelings of love, liberation; acknowledgement. The sadness I felt, the heat in my eyes, the twitch in my nose, the burn in my throat actually felt like a deep sense of connectedness.

On the boat back to the beach I felt quite mute, quite quiet but this felt far from passive. Beneath my own surface I was fully engaged, bearing witness to a process I could offer nothing in the way of direction nor would I have desired to. On the wave of this natural energy an integration process was unfolding, shifting my internal satellites with a magnetic force which both attracted and repelled.

This stillness of my outer body continued into the afternoon.

Avyn, Rose, Jo, Paula & me shared an evening meal by the beach, once again the conversation flowed and the space between us, held. Rose commented on a book she thought I would enjoy, about an English lady who went into a cave retreat in the mountains above India. As she spoke there was a pang of familiarity, then she said the name, 'Tenzin Palmo'. This was in fact the other book I had brought with me, synchronicity prevails yet again.