Return from the rainforest

I returned to Yangon just over a week ago, from Borneo. From rainy season in the rainforest to our too short cool, dry season.

There has been a slight shiver, a hint of chill which has been resting over Yangon the past few weeks. A crispness in the morning air, as a slow sun lifts heavily, slipping its fingers gently through the trees, dabbing slivers of colour and soft light.  I feel the cool air on my skin as I cycle through the morning lanes, just before sunrise.  I can see the cold in the woollen hats and scrunched up faces on the few people in the lanes, in their scarves, long sleeves and warmer wraps and  even in the occasional t-shirt wrapped round street dogs to keep them warm.  I admire the elderly man cycling with his arms crossed, tightly hugging his chest and wonder how on earth he will tackle the bend a few yards ahead in the road. These days are precious and they do not last long. Already they are losing their grip as the sun gathers strength and the cooler air dissipates more quickly.  I cherish these days, clasping them to my heart and holding onto them as long as possible because they will soon be only a memory. Our dry season is indeed short, and the days soon become hot, humid and heavy and we look to the long rainy season for relief.

So I have to confess that I was a little surprised when I was planning my visit to Borneo and discovered it was the midst of rainy season there.  I really had not given it any thought and vaguely assumed that as it was not so far away, the season must be similar.  However, that is not the case and I arrived to glorious and spectacular rains.  And my goodness, do the rainforests love rains!Borneo 8My plan for the ten days in Borneo was simple. Rest, swimming, wandering, contemplation, writing but most of all,  just being.  I can easily spend hours just listening to the rains, gazing at the iconic Borneo peaks from afar with a sense of awe, watching the trees and letting the stresses which build up be washed away. Of course I took many photos, and in addition to a small selection here, there will be a wider set on the sister blog.

Borneo 6I had another plan though.  One which combines the modernity of 21st century communication, the experience of breast cancer and the most fundamental human essence of friendship, trust and connection.

Through the blog, I have connected with total strangers and shared the most personal of details.  That is the subject of great discussion elsewhere on the blogosphere this week.

Through this technological wizardry, I had connected with a woman in Borneo some time back through a comment she made on the blog. We have a lot in common. We have both been living in Asia for a number of years, settled with family and with husbands from this part of the world and been living in very different cultures to that of our early years. We both originally hail from the UK.  And we were both diagnosed with breast cancer and experienced treatment in our adopted regions.

I spent New Year’s Eve with her family, generously included in their plans, as well as an afternoon being guided through the craft shops of her city picking up treats to take back and learning the bahasa word for gecko.  And of course sharing our experiences of living with breast cancer diagnosis and its impact. It was especially interesting to share insights of the cancer journey while in a culture very different to the one of our origin. Until diagnosis, we do not know or understand the very deep held beliefs around the disease and it brings unexpected moments and experiences which can be heart warming and challenging.

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There is more to tell of my Borneo visit, and as I settle back into the intensity of life and work in Yangon I will tell more of my time there.  In the meantime, I hold onto the freshness of the memories of the experience and the simplicity and complexity of life today.