October Break

We made it to our October break!  We now have a whole week off thanks to what we understand is the beginning of Buddhist Lent.  The whole country has three days off from Tuesday-Thursday with the main celebrations being on the full moon on Wednesday.  The Wednesday before Thanksgiving marks the end of Lent with another holiday and another full moon.  It’s a festival of lights so many houses and businesses are really going to town with the twinkle lights kind of like Christmas-I love it!  Gav and I are headed to Cambodia tomorrow morning to visit Angkor Wat.  Nell is going to have a little trial run with our cleaner staying in our house and dog sitting.  Hopefully all goes well because we will really need someone to live here and watch Nell during our long summer break.

Everyone is very ready for this break.  In the past week I have had one kid tell me I smell like an airport (what does that even mean?), one kid follow me into the bathroom and demand to know what I was doing (I had to yell “go away!” more than once) and one kid tell me my skirt was too short and everyone was going to be able to see my underwear (I assure you my skirt was knee length).   YouTube had a worldwide outage right as I was trying to do important research with Pre-K kids about whether an Angelfish could grab things with their fins.  Now the world may never know.

We purposefully gave ourselves a day to chill out and run some errands before heading off on vacation.  We needed to order a rug, buy a couch, get some gardening tools and run by a bookstore.  Luckily we have a friendly taxi driver who hangs out near school and speaks a little English who we can call for days like this.  He drove us around for almost 3 hours and waited in various places and generally made the whole thing a lot more pleasant and we feel good about knocking some things off our to-do list.  We gave him about £10 which makes both parties happy.

One of the things we have been putting off for ever is buying a couch.  Even though I would really like to stop sitting on the office waiting room couch that came with our house, I have been dreading going back to where Yangon’s only reasonably priced and not hideous couch resides.  We were directed to this couch by another couple who was new to the school last year.  We toured their flat when we visited in January and thought they had very nice taste and they told us that the couch they bought was very reasonable and they would send us the info.  When we arrived we quickly discovered that there are lots of very nice couches to be had, but they are very expensive.  So we set off with high hopes to the “mall” that Dan and Laura told us about.  There is a mall near us called Myanmar Plaza that is a lot like a suburban mall in the US.  Little stores with not a lot you want to buy, but the aircon is good and there’s even a whole Crocs store in case you are in the market for shoes you can wash in your dishwasher!  When Dan and Laura told us that the couch was on the 4th floor of Yazunga Plaza, I imagined a similar situation, but more downtown.  No.

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It is complete scrum of little stalls selling everything from underwear to gold necklaces.  And there was no aircon the first time we went so I was a sweaty disaster.  By the time we struggled through the crowds to the 4th floor I was in a bit of shock and then we saw the furniture offerings.  Oh my.image3

This beauty was not unusual.  There is a whole living room suite that features both gold lame and rhinestones.  But in amongst the purple velvet and paisley wonders there is one single solitary plain grey couch.  And every expat who does not want to spend $1000 on a couch owns it.  I have seen it countless times on the expat buy/sell google group (where the sellers are constantly trying to sell it used for the same price they bought it for, hoping people aren’t actually braving Yuzanga Plaza’s 4th Floor Delights).  I think the salespeople probably see Westerners are are like “your couch is over here.”

Anyway, it has been really hot so I have been dreading going back to actually order the thing.  But amazingly there seemed to be a little token air conditioning in spots, the couch will be delivered on the 30th of October, and we get a free gift!  I had to politely decline the enormous purple faux leather ottoman that they wanted to give us.  I said “oh!  So nice, but we have no room.”  And then they brought out a footstool half the size and I felt like I had to accept.  Only this one is sort of yellow/tan.  Great.

On the way home, our taxi guy pointed out that we were passing the chicken market.  We saw the guy above heading over to sell his wares as we sat at a traffic light.  I love it.

Next post from Cambodia!

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