Ever since the first time I laid eyes on you you've always returned my smile with an equally genuine gleam. I'm glad I knew you when you were young and just coming into the world. I remember when you got addicted to betel nut. The first time I saw you chewing it I thought you had bloody gums. I found the crimson spit repulsive but the arecoline stimulated you. You started lots of fires: fires to keep warm, fires to cook and fires for no apparent reason.
I'll never forget the trip we took to Inle Lake. It was long but took only a small amount of time. We arrived in the morning, spent a few frigid hours trying to sleep in a monastery and then toured the lake with all its attractions. We watched the fisherman row with their legs, saw people making fabric from lotus and silk, making paper from mulberry, and making silver jewelery. We visited a monastery and a floating island. But before the sun had set it was time for us to leave.
You're something special and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You're down to earth and you're friendly; always welcoming and taking care of others. But you're changing fast and I know the next time I see you you won't be the sweet young adolescent you are now. You're entering into the work world, starting your first job at Starbucks soon. But you'll always have a place in my heart. Take care Myanmar: enjoy the journey to adulthood but don't loose your charm.
Happy ending: Hours before leaving Myanmar I gave a USB thumb drive with the English course material from the Americans in China, a copy of the Rosetta Stone with the first five levels of English, and two audio books about being successful in life and business to an American traveler bound for Mandalay. Assuming all goes well the monk will have some of the best tools available to set him ahead of the game.Soundtrack: The Way It Is (Bruce Hornsby)