The Traveler’s Eye: Teaching Little Monks to Play Frisbee in Burma


The Traveler’s Eye is a new series about the stories behind some of my favorite travel photography I’ve taken over the years.

On a sunny day in Bagan, Myanmar, once known as Burma, my three college buddies and I were traversing the pagodas and temples by bicycle.  Bagan is the biggest temple site in the world, consisting of over 2,200 temples, and is ripe for exploration.

In all of our adventures one thing we always like to do is throw some from Frisbee since we all played Ultimate together back in university and because discs are easy to fit in backpacks. So once we found a giant temple site with a grand open area we parked the bikes and began to play the most epic game of ultimate in our lives.

The frisbee lesson begins.
The frisbee lesson begins.

After about 10 minutes of playing we realized we had a small audience, literally. Three little Buddhist monks had huddled by the edge of our throwing area and were intently studying our every move.

Loving it.
Loving it.
Despite the fact they didn’t speak English we gestured them over to come play with us. It was then that we realized they had never played Frisbee before. We showed them some basic throwing techniques and within no time they had a grasp of launching a disc and were loving it, and admittedly we were loving it too.
Big ups, big smiles.
Big ups, big smiles.

We decided to step things up a little and taught them, as much as one can without words, the idea of Ultimate. They were hooked. We turned these cool little monks into frisbee addicts and it was glorious.

Jumping for joy.
Jumping for joy.
In their full robes they were sprinting, diving, boxing each other out, laughing, jumping, and having the time of their lives.  After about 45 minutes of this we were whooped from the 90-100 F heat and still had miles to bicycle so we wrapped up the game.  We offered them our Frisbee as sort of a cultural exchange, but even though they were little kids they stuck to their traditional monk values and refused our gift.
Ultimate monks!
Ultimate monks!

We hung out for about 10 more minutes to cool down and they hung out with us.  We didn’t say anything to each other, but we sat there and smiled and enjoyed the shade and each other’s company and that was more than enough.

Hanging in the shade with our new friends.
Hanging in the shade with our new friends.

With a wave goodbye we got on our bikes and kept exploring and they went on their way to their daily tasks. Underneath those blue skies riding down dirt roads we all had smiles tattooed on our faces knowing that one of the greatest days of ours life had only just begun.

To see more of my photos check out my Instagram account and to see more of my photos of Burma on Instagram search for #burmaweek .


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