Every Saturday and Sunday in London Gav and I would take Nell for a long walk on Hampstead Heath. She loved it and it was sometimes the only times in the week when we would all go together. We called it the “Family Walk.” One of those days I would run for a couple hours before I met them. Things are….a little different now. Now on the weekend I try to get out the door before 6 to avoid the worst of the humidity and I run a whopping 45 minutes. Back home, I have to recover for a bit before we start the walk. It’s very different than our London walks, but we are really enjoying them all the same.
I have to start with a photo of the ridiculous security that every house in our neighbourhood (maybe all of Yangon?) has. There is really no crime here, but everyone has these ridiculous padlocked gates in front of the house complete with razor wire looping all around the perimeter. Until this year, the school would ALSO hire a guard to sit at your gate 24/7. Thankfully they are phasing this out, but all the other houses on our road have someone. Handy if you want to drive your car in and out of your gate I guess, but we don’t have that problem.
Outside our gate is a pretty quiet street. We don’t have a lot of traffic because the street is a long series of quite serious potholes that someone has attempted to fix by throwing bricks into. We are actually happy the road is so bad as it means the cars that do come down drive very slowly and we don’t have much through traffic. Makes running in the rain interesting as there is no way to tell how deep a pothole is, so sometimes you get a real surprise!
Up a bit further, on our way to Inya Lake, is a Buddhist Temple.
In the mornings when I run I quite often see the monks walking by in their dark red robes ringing their bell, which summons the faithful to their gates to donate cooked food for the monks. They only eat one meal a day, and that has to be 100% donated food. Less commonly you see nuns (differentiated by wearing pink robes, but both monks and nuns shave their heads) doing the same thing. You can see quite young people in these processions as being a monk or nun can be a temporary state, unlike say in the Catholic church. Most Burmese will be a monk or nun sometime in their lives.
The rest of our road is quite quiet and slopes down towards a main artery. There are some nice houses and some food stalls. We met an American guy with a Golden Retriever puppy here yesterday on our walk! It was nuts. Needs more walking I think. We have to cross quite a main street (about 6 lanes) to get to the park surrounding the lake. Early in the morning it is no problem, but by rush hour you definitely have to just confidently step into traffic and hope people dodge you. Once you get across there alive, you are in for a treat! There is a very nice park that leads to a walkway next to the huge lake.
This park and the path by the lake are amazingly well kept. There is no trash, no weeds, and bins
every 20 feet. It’s amazing. There seems to be an army of people maintaining it at all hours of the day, even when I run at 5am. There are lots and lots of street dogs here, but they are very laid back and obviously fed by somebody. They are very curious about Nell, but pretty skittish and not a threat at all. We have named some of them. That’s Freddie Flat Ears there with the sandy coloured coat! The path is busy all the time with a combination of people out having some exercise or having a
date. There are benches all around with canoodling couples, despite the signs imploring people not to play music, sell anything, or kiss. The benches are covered in case of rain! Love it. Also love the sketchy Ferris Wheel that dominates the skyline here. Atmospheric, but I really hope that thing is not in operation.
There is a driving range into the lake. Two guys in a canoe, wearing hard hats, go around retrieving the (I presume floating) golf balls.
Gav enjoys a bit of birdwatching as Nell and I wait impatiently for him to see enough to identify the bird.
All kinds of people walk along the lake. Most are out for a stroll. Here you can see the male Burmese national dress. Called a Longyi, I would say about a third of adult men you see are wearing
one. It’s a colourful ankle-length circular piece of cloth adjusted by tying in the front. It seems to be very adjustable as I have seen them knee-length or even as shorts while people are doing manual labour! Men at our school seem to wear them interchangeably with regular trousers and it is just as common to see them on young men as older ones, but not on children.
At the apex of the walk there is a kind of dead end that funnels into a nice neighbourhood, but here is where we turn around and head home again for some breakfast and (if the last three weekends are any indication) running errands trying to buy furniture. We are usually home by 9 and it’s a great way to start the day, even though I am invariably extremely happy to get home to some air conditioning. Don’t let the gloomy skies fool you-it’s super humid out there! We feel quite accomplished when we return.