BY DENISE HUNG
Being on the road for a long time serves a different purpose from why one started the engine. I went off the grid but only to have my hands holding a map in an unknown city. There is a certain novelty when you step outside a foreign vehicle and on to the dirty rough streets.
I found myself in Yangon one afternoon. A pariah nation or outcast, like a stray dog left roaming around the streets. Untamed and wild, it lives on its own rules, gave itself a name and paved the journey. I walked eastwards down 16th street/Bandula streets, passing by fresh avocado stalls, rice food booths, mohinga stands, fake DVDs stalls and random merchandise for sale. As a Malaysian, this feels right at home. I’d grown up in an environment where laws are broken and corruption reigns over sovereignty; well for the most part.
I sense the heaviness in their eyes. I feel their urge to change decades of military ruling but also not knowing what to do. Wanting freedom and to break away from the present. Yearning for a clean slate, and start anew. Yet we know it’s not about fixing something that is broken but making something better. Their lives are simple. Almost too simple to comprehend. Compared to our complicated sophisticated modernized cities, which are supposed to advance our daily lives and result in more complexities; they live in an ongoing developing plateau.
My intentions were clear. I came here on a mission to get away from a distant past I didn’t want to confront. I came here for a clean slate. While I didn’t expect myself to stay here for long period of time, I felt an instant connection with this country.
Before the trip, I was consumed by unhealthy relationships. Everyday was a tug of war of insecurities, jealousy and ego. There wasn’t a day that went by without me feeling an inch of sadness. I lied my way through the relationship by saying I was happy because that’s what we tell ourselves when we are with others; that there is no better company than being with someone else who loves you, or so you think is the way they perceive it.
Love comes in many forms. Love that consumes you. Love that toxically drives you to give unconditionally. Love that isn’t real love at all. The amount of time spent in the state of unhappiness drained the living out of me.
After everything dissolved and ended amicably, I was still struggling so I needed to get out of my own skin and allow it to breathe again.
“It’s all new,” they all say.
The novelty dies off easily when you seek for something better, despite it being a third world country, anything is better when you have been living in the past.
The truth is, living in modern society makes you take everything for granted, so I started to appreciate the simplest moments in life when I was in Yangon. Clean filtered water, a bowl of fresh cooked white grains, constant supply of electricity, a smooth even pavement, and a quiet smile.
The locals live a very simple life. As long as they have their daily family meals, perhaps a friendly ball match by the road, entertain their children with foreign cartoons and get a fair amount of money to sustain this lifestyle, they are contented.
One would say they don’t know how to look beyond the moment and imagine a brighter future. But coming from a brighter future, is there really a need to dive into the rat race? Most of them that make it out there, come back greedy. A constant want to feed their egos or bank accounts. Forgetting that family or closed ones are the ones that matter at the end of the day.
Family. Loved ones. The constant. Because if you can’t get that right, the rest just doesn’t matter.
Eventually, I decided to return back to the sunny shores; but of course, not before another small adventure. I excused myself from the hustle and joined a yoga retreat in Ngwe Saung beach. What was promised to be a six-hour journey, took us about eight hours instead. It was much expected, as I call it, the Burmese style: everything is consistently inconsistent.
Unlike previous struggles, the yoga practices were different. I genuinely rediscovered my own strength and found where my limitations lie. Ironically, the practice had become somewhat easier, and gave clearer head space. It’s as if I had decluttered my own brain and made way for some physical strength and serious alignments.The lighter one feels, the lighter the body becomes. “The body is smarter than your brain.” We often outwit ourselves by pushing the limits.
I’m back in the +65 region again, with a new job, but still hanging out with my crazy kitchen crew and exploring a deeper relationship. Somehow everything seems to work out the way it ought to be just as it should, with time.
Truth is, you don’t leave home for somewhere else. You leave to find home in yourself.
Denise Hung is a mileage collector, on a plant based diet, enjoys immersing herself in nature and being upside down on a yoga mat. Denise graduated with a patisserie degree and lived in Yorkshire, Orlando & Santa Monica, and is about to leave Singapore for Hong Kong. She co-written a cookbook (Kitchen Stories) with a talented food stylist, Elodie Bellegarde. She is thinking of publishing another book. While on this journey, she often contemplates about the impermanence of form and bring awareness towards the space within.
Denise Hung 基於美食的旅程裏數收集者，喜歡將自己沈浸在自然中，在瑜伽墊上翻轉倒立。Denise 是西點師畢業，曾居住在 Yorkshire, Orlando & Santa Monica，即將離開新加坡啟程香港。她曾和有才華的食品設計 Elodie Bellegarde 一起編寫了一本食譜（廚房裏的故事）。如今她正為另一本書的出版做打算。在旅程中，她通常會去思考形式的無常，並將覺知帶向內在的空間。