A week into my trip to Myanmar, our group arrived in Mandalay and pulled up to our hotel exhausted. Yet, regardless of our exhaustion, we climbed into the back of two smoke-belching rickety trucks that had been converted into taxis and ascended the mountain behind our hotel. Although the ride was not very long, the uncertain noises that the trucks made caused it to seem much longer than it was. We arrived at the temple from which we intended to watch the sunset and paid the camera tax. I moved to the railing and looked to the sinking sun as the billows of smoke from trash fires began to rise to cover the view.
"Hello, you speak english?" came a voice at my elbow. I turned and there were two monks with their bags and their english handbooks. Their english class had come up to the vista point to find tourists to practice their english on, and these two had decided to speak with me. We spent the entire 20 minutes working on talking about out families, our favorite music (one of them liked Lady Gaga), and small details about our lives.
One of them asked me "What does it mean...Pigs will fly?" at which point I had to figure out the simplest way to explain this ridiculous bit of english to him, of course after explaining that it's "when pigs fly."
As the sun began to dip below the horizon, one of the monks began telling me that before he ever began talking to tourists he had never thought about how the sunset made him feel. He said "we do not feel these things."
A few minutes later, we had a halt in the conversation and I watched the sun's quick disappearing act for a few minutes in silence. I turned around, elated, and the monk leaned toward me, excited and said "tell me, how do you feel?"
and I said "wonderful."
Not only had I seen the sunset, but I had seen someone discovering the aesthetics of beauty.