October 3, 2015: Mount Victoria, Myanmar — As a solo, pasty, very blond white guy traveling the world's most rural regions this year, I stick out pretty much everywhere, all the time. At first I felt it, but these days getting stared at just feels normal. Kids point and yell, "white man!" as I go by, and adults occasionally shout the same thing, but not usually in a mean way—it's just a statement of fact. In Uganda last month, a nice-looking woman approached in a restaurant and asked politely if I'd marry her. Today, as often happens, people snapped photos on their cell phones as I passed. "They don't see many foreigners down this way," said Gideon, a phrase I've heard too many times to count.
I suppose it's obvious, but I've discovered this year that most tourists visit the same well-traveled places. Once you get away from the guidebook hotspots you're on your own. We left Bagan this morning, where young Europeans ride bicycles around town with folded maps in hand, and that's when things reversed: I became the tourist attraction!
Today we traveled to Mount Victoria, a 10,070-foot peak (also called Nat Ma Taung) in the south Chin Hills of western Myanmar, where I hope to pick up some east Himalayan birds that I missed in India. The drive took most of the day, with some birding stops en route, and we arrived in late afternoon. The air at 6,000 feet this evening feels fresh after a couple of days in the humid lowlands, and I'm looking forward to a long day on the mountain tomorrow.
New birds today: 19
Year list: 4603