I have been up since 3:20am because I ran the Yangon Half Marathon this morning. Some colleagues from school have run it before and assured me that the timing of the race meant that the weather would be decent, the course route is interesting and it is well supported with drinks stations ever 2.5K. I decided to sign up even though I am not in great shape for distance running at the moment. Gone are the days I could just bang out 13 miles on a Saturday, I have no desire to fight the weather that much here in Yangon. I just figured at worst I could walk it and it would be a good challenge. Also the gun goes off at 5:30am so you don’t even waste a day doing the race. I have to say that I was very impressed with the organisation of the event-everyone got personalised bibs! With your emergency contact info already filled out on the back! Fancy. Three of us who live on the same road cabbed over the stadium this morning and got ready to race.
We are so smiley here because we have not yet been exposed to a) the KFC booth near the start line and b) the toilets. Everyone was laughing coming out of the port-a-loos. Partly because you had to jump across a giant puddle caused by…..things….leaking out of the cabins. But partly because if you didn’t laugh you would cry. Inside I encountered something I had only seen once before in my life-at the campsite the night before you attempt to summit Kilimanjaro. That was a drop toilet but everyone was clearly very nervous about the summit day and a mountain of poo was coming up through the hole in the floor. This was also happening this morning-none of the toilets would flush so everything just sat there. And there were no lights in the toilets (which was probably for the best) so it was pretty frightening.
Just so you know, people were partaking of the KFC in the start corral. Perhaps it is the perfect pre-race snack?
The race itself went fine. The first hour is before sunrise so it is nice and cool. There is a small issue of running on a Yangon road in the pitch dark with streetlights few and far between, but I managed to not trip in a pothole or fall in a ditch so yay! The course takes you on a little tour of the downtown area as the sun is rising and then you run up towards the Shwedagon which is nice and distracting. Also the organisers managed to create a route that is in the shade for all but the last 500 meters which is a total miracle and very much appreciated. Everyone who ran from school finished in respectable times and I was home and showered by 9am! Fix the toilet situation and this will be a first class race.
The “Cold” part of this tale took place last Saturday. I spend a lot of time complaining about the weather here, and around my birthday I apparently told two friends that all I wanted was to “feel a little nip in the air.” Fast-forward to our return from the holiday and I got a calendar invite for a mysterious event the next Saturday. All I was told was to wear long pants, close toed shoes, and be ready for a taxi at 11:30am. My friends had organised a trip to a Yangon ice factory where we were all going to try our hand at ice carving!
This is not a thing that the ice factory does, we were literally the only people ever to ask if we could try. We brought all our own tools and the people who worked there thought we were hilarious. We had no idea what we were doing, but it was a total blast. We had cake and champagne, we used blowtorches and scrapers and saws, Gav and Greg made a giant hole in their sculpture just to see if they could.
Liz busied herself making a perfect sphere and I tried to make a relief of some temples in Bagan but everything melted too fast to really work that well. Turns out there is a reason people do ice carving outside in the freezing cold! It was a complete hoot and although not really “nippy” there were ice shavings flying all around and that felt great.
I’m fairly sure we are all over the ice factory people’s Facebook pages, and there was more than one Skype session that was happening. Gav’s Burmese is not quite good enough yet, but if it was I’m sure he would have translated a lot of “look at what these weirdos are doing!” We always manage to pack a lot into our weekends. I think they need to be three days long to allow for recovery time. Someone please get on that.