Before our month long trip to Asia consisting of 5 countries and an unfathomable amount of flights, we had various concerns about each location. Our angst about Myanmar (a.k.a. Burma) was specifically mosquito related. On a positive note, we were going in the cooler, non-rainy season, which meant less bugs. On a negative note, being bordered by Thailand and India meant that while the areas we were going didn’t specifically have malaria, Zika and dengue issues, areas that did weren’t far from us. And just a note, “cooler” in Burma still means “hot as balls” if you’re a westerner. Overall, the level of risk here was slightly lower than the probability of me injuring myself by falling off a treadmill, and since I’ve decided that is in fact too risky and therefore have stayed away from the gym for my own safety, the baby vs. bugs in Burma risk seemed reasonable.
Thinking we’d outsmart the situation, we brought the NSA-U.K. pop-up travel tent for our daughter to sleep in and heaps of bug spray to smother her in. Unfortunately, the tent outsmarted us and we broke it during a failed attempt at collapsing it just before our last stop on the trip, which was, of course, Myanmar. If anyone has ever lost the battle to a pop-up tent I feel you and will be holding support group meetings to slowly gain our patience and sanity back. All the Myanmar hotels had baby cots and mosquito nets except for our first night in Yangon, which was a nice hotel in the city so the net wouldn’t be needed, or so we thought.
And just like that, in a place Chris and I didn’t get even one bite, the baby got eaten alive while she slept overnight. To put it lightly, it was a fucking massacre. I’m talking 30+ bites and welts on her face, neck and hands, basically anywhere her full body Jammie didn’t cover. The Burmese doctor we saw in Bagan said it was a flea, Chris thought it was a hungry mosquito and my bet was on some mutant mixture straight out of a Marvel movie. Luckily, besides looking like she had leprosy, she was no worse for the wear and seemed totally unaffected. Some antihistamine syrup at night and fresh aloe goo during the day seemed to bring the welts down from patient zero levels over the course of a week. Of course, the normal “you’re brave to travel with a baby” comments from strangers quickly turned into side eyes screaming, “you’re totally an irresponsible parent”. But, realistically, I figured that transition was inevitable at some point anyway!
From reading this one might think I wouldn’t recommend bringing a baby to Myanmar, but strangely that’s not the case at all. Her losing battle with a bug could have just as easily occurred in the summertime in Switzerland and was more bad luck than bad environment (in fact her first battle against the bugs looked just like this from a night in her crib in Geneva in July). But honestly, our time in Myanmar was magical for all of us including the baby and no one got any bug bites outside of that one blood bath where the baby was used as a sacrifice. She crawled around the pagodas in Yangon, climbed on the temples in Bagan and napped on the long boats on Inle Lake. She consumed more Burmese food than most will in their lifetime and developed a real affection for monks. The hotels we stayed at were, for the most part, very nice and the Burmese people were even nicer. All in all I’d go back to Myanmar in a heartbeat and do it all over again. Except this time I’d ask the Inle Lake fisherman if I could borrow their fishing cone to place around the baby at night and then employ some monks to stand watch!