...the Great Benefits of Bad Trips
My wife and I have a deal regarding traveling. We divide our trips overseas into two different categories: good trips and bad trips. Good trips are her type of trip. They tend to be places with sandy beaches, sun, surf, waving palm trees, and margaritas at 4 pm. My trips are categorized as bad trips. They are more adventurous and exciting. The countries also tend to have had major social issues faced by them recently, are going through major social issues at the time of our visit, or will go through major social issues soon after we leave.
Countries that fall into the bad trips are Mali, Egypt, Vietnam, Thailand, Tibet, Nepal, and China. These are the places and countries to which I love to travel. Years ago, I traveled to places like East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia while still under the control of the USSR. They too were also bad trips. Military dictatorships or police states are terms that often are terms that describe the destination of bad trips.
The reason that I love these bad trips is that they allow me to learn a great deal and are very exciting during that learning process. I am not dissing margaritas at 4 pm on the sunny sandy beaches of some paradise island, but...
We just returned from Myanmar or what most Americans still call Burma. At best, Myanmar is slowly emerging out of a military dictatorship. That country has been closed off to the rest of the world for much of the last half of the 20th century. Even though Myanmar is categorized as a bad trip, it was in fact the best trip of my entire lifetime. I came back a different person after spending nearly a month in Myanmar. I talked to protest leaders and dissidents within that country along with ordinary citizens.
I interviewed Min Ko Naing at the beginning of the trip, and he invited me to a luncheon at the end of the trip. At that luncheon, he asked me whether I would like to go to a protest rally at Sule Pagoda where on August 8, 1988 the military government killed hundreds of innocent protestors...because they were protesting for human rights.
In addition, I talked at great length to almost anyone with whom I had any contact...from hotel personal, locals, and shopkeepers. The people are outgoing and interested in foreigners traveling in their country. I have never been in a police state in which the people function at such a positive level. They need much more political freedom and what we call normal necessities of life. The average annual income is around $1300 with 26% of the population under their poverty line. They also have a staggering unemployment rate of 37%, and their GNP ranks 46th in the world.
Having worked in the civil rights movement in the 60s, I am in the process of contacting Joan Baez and have her return with me this summer. The plan is to have her sing We Shall Overcome Sule Pagoda in Yangon.
Nonetheless, The Great Gate in Kiev did not get lost from the history books and the art world. Several years after the czar did not build the gate, Hartmann died of an aneurysm at the age of 39. The art critic that introduced Mussorgsky to Hartmann sets up a funeral of sorts for Hartmann. The funeral was held in a building containing 400 of Hartmann's architectural drawings or paintings including The Great Gate in Kiev.
Mussorgsky attended Hartmann's funeral service viewed all the painting. A dozen particular paintings move Mussorgsky so much that he returned home and within three weeks completed the Pictures at an Exhibition suite including The Great Gate of Kiev. (Why he changed Hartmann's in to of I have never understood.)
Had Czar Alexander II built the Great Gate in mortar and not relegated it to music, I would have had Ukraine and especially Kiev on my list of must see destinations. However, then Czar Putin creates chaos for Ukraine recently with the annexation of Crimea and poses all sorts of potential problems for three predominately Russian oblasts (provinces) in eastern Ukraine. Therefore, Ukraine is back on my list of bad trips to which I would love to travel.
Once I add a new country to my list, I begin to wonder about what the people think, how they act, and what is the most critical for them. I try to imagine what the scenery and landscape of the countryside and cities are like. I had never been to Myanmar. However, all that I had to go by was that it was something like Thailand or India. Myanmar is directly between those two countries in which I had spent a lot of time. I also will go to YouTube and spend hours attempting to get my boots on the ground before I actually do.
My not having a layout of Kiev makes it difficult even to imagine what it will be like having never been there. I know my way around Yangon or Mandalay but do not have even a starting point for Kiev. That pain or discomfort pushes me to attempt to learn more. I am spending time on the Internet now to discover.
Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Ukraine page to read more about this topic.
Visit the On Seeing the Light page to read more about this topic.