Bagan, Myanmar

Visit the sense-assaulting markets of Bagan, where vibrant spice stalls and tropical-flower stands make for a kaleidoscopic experience.

It's easy to get lost without going anywhere at all. The conventions and comforts of our daily routine mean that we can struggle to leave the familiar, the predictable, the safe. We fail to see the opportunities and forget that we have choices. The threat of this monotony is what inspired me to book a one-way ticket to Asia earlier this year.

During my time journeying across the continent I stumbled upon a photograph of the magni cent Unesco World Heritage Site of Bagan and immediately knew I had to experience its beauty first-hand. I wasn't ignorant of its difficult political situation, but have always believed that the best way to understand a country and its people is from close up rather than afar.

In the evening light, the temples radiated a furious terracotta against the tangles of encroaching greenery, surpassing the postcard-perfect vision I'd carried with me. Yet I found my greatest connection to Bagan in its markets. I wove my way through baskets bursting with sharp-tongued flowers, bartering for spices with sellers. At a sugar-palm plantation I watched sap being harvested and made into a syrup, which was then rolled with coconut and peanuts to make sweet treats.

Through the juxtaposition of Bagan's decaying former glory and the vibrant shock of its marketplaces, the country reminded me that the world is a vast place, stirred through with an array of strange yet familiar encounters.

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Myanmar, Southeast Asia