One of Incandescence’s highlights this Summer has to be our crazy circus tour across Burma. Five suitcases, three intrepid circus artists, a dodgy map, a romantic image of this mysterious, magical and yet closed country, and we ventured forth.
We arrived in Yangon and were confronted by erratic power supplies, no travel plan, jet lag, friendly people, unaccustomed smells and the biggest danger of being hit by a belligerent motorist or stumbling into the many sewage filled pot holes. We soon found our feet and caught an overnight bus to Bagan. It can only be described as a very entertaining, yet bone breaking 13-hour ride on a pre-historic bus that seemed to be made out of soggy cardboard. Dela and Chris’s solution was to down 10 cans of red bull and play an annoying word game for the duration of the journey.
Arriving in Bagan wired, we attracted the craziest ride in town going by the name of ‘Rambo’ we headed out to see sunrise over this amazing historic and mystical place. That had over 3,000 crumbling beautiful temples as far as the eye could see shrouded in mist as the sun rose. This became the incredible background for dawn training sessions, circus workshops and site specific shows with the locals.
We then boarded another bus to the placid and stunning Inle lake in the Shan state. A stunning place with water-bound temples, floating gardens and stilted house villages. We became an evening feature in one of these candle-lit fishing villages along the river, as we performed nightly fire shows and acrobatic displays against a beautiful natural backdrop.
It was here we stumbled upon a Burmese version of a firework display which involved getting a tonne of pyro’s strapping it to a very large pole and lighting a fuse: the result being one of the most scary yet exhilarating moments of my life, as I ran for cover from flying hot rockets. You will have to watch it to believe it!
The highlight was meeting a Shan martial arts master and taking part in a temple-top festival which is normally closed to Westerners. Here we exchanged martial arts, performed more circus shows and had some comedy sparring moments. Before much to Dela and Chris’s amusement I was whisked off to dance Shan style around the temple in the midday heat after been plied with rice whisky.
We had beautiful cultural exchanges with a country and its people that had been denied music and all art forms for the last decade this was truly an amazing experience. Such warmth, so much fun, and beautiful hospitality that we received as we journeyed across this country – one circus show at a time. Check out more of our Site-Specific Performances /Cultural Exchanges .
Until next time Burma, you are a gem: a country in my heart that will draw me back again and again. A big thank you, love Satya.
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