Roads, Rain and Re-entry

We’ve been back now just over a month.  Comparatively with last year, the process of coming to Yangon and starting work has been a breeze.  It was so nice to come back home where all of our things are, including Nell!

There was no question in my mind that we came home to Yangon and were not leaving our home in London.  Over the summer, we had a new air conditioning unit put in upstairs and this combined with two de-humidifiers has completely resolved the humidity/heat issue upstairs that we had before.  Not sure if I mentioned it before but the de-humidifiers, which we bought along with our gas BBQ from a random person, are amazing.  They each have a reservoir which I estimate holds about 15 litres of water (almost 3.5 gallons).   When we wake up in the morning they are completely full and we empty them then and also when we come back from work.  We also empty them before we go to bed but they aren’t usually full then.  That comes to 70 plus litres (15.5 gallons) of water a day!

Last year, every weekend was spent madly rushing around trying to find ‘must have’ pieces of furniture and things that we were too stupid to put in our shipment.  Every weekday evening was spent recovering from the day of new challenges in the job and the frenetic pace of back to school life.  This year, we don’t need anything desperately but instead have bought a few things that you could consider as luxuries – like more curtains.  The pace of back to school life is just as frenetic as it was last year and I have been extremely busy but I haven’t had anywhere near the level of stress that I had last year.  I now know how to solve most problems and having done everything once can see the tasks coming and can prepare accordingly.  This leads to more sanity in general which I’ll definitely take.  I know that things will get crazy from time to time but in general I feel on top of everything right now which is great.

As I write, it’s raining.  That’s no surprise – it’s the rainy season but it still takes some getting used to.  I think we must be feeling the annoyance of the rain slightly more than last year simply because it’s one of the few things we are annoyed about as opposed to last year when there were so many challenges.  Several times, we have had to cancel an outing as it has just started to pour down with rain.  Right now, we are supposed to be taking the dog for a walk but we’re holding off because of the rain.  When it really pours the gutters at the sides of the road overflow into the street flooding the street in a surprisingly quick amount of time.  When that happens it becomes almost impossible to get a cab and you can find yourself literally wading through the water.  This happened to me last Wednesday.  On Wednesdays after work I play Ultimate (that’s a game with a frisbee or disc).  After about an hour it really started to pour down.  The school field is pretty good at handling water though so we continued to play getting soaked but having fun.  Afterwards, I hoped to be able to get a cab but couldn’t find one so simply walked home.  I have some rubber shoes that I wear to and from work and I was wearing shorts so that was fine but in places I was wading through fast flowing water a foot deep.  As it was dark and there was so much water you can’t see what you’re stepping on so could easily step badly into a pot hole or gutter.  I made it home no problem but it continued to rain all through the night.  After it stops raining the water on the roads subsides surprisingly quickly and houses never seem to get flooded here which I guess comes from experience of living and building in a tropical country.

All of last year our road was in terrible repair.  We didn’t mind that much because it slowed the cars down but over the summer they started resurfacing the road.  It is finished now but still hasn’t opened as they are working on the sides.  Yangon has some sidewalks or pavements that are usually made of cement covering a yawning chasm sized gutter.  Now I understand why some of these are so deep.  Sometimes, people will come and repair pot holes in a normal way applying tarmac over the affected areas.  However, if they plan to resurface an entire road they have a different strategy.  Instead of digging up the road and resurfacing it, they fix planks of wood to the sides of the road and then simply pour concrete over the existing road.  This means the road surface increases in height by varying degrees.  Ours is now 6 inches higher than it was thus increasing the height of the side gutter.  The really funny thing is that they don’t care about people’s driveways at all.  So it is entirely up to you to now build a ramp from your driveway onto the new higher road.  Our landlord hasn’t bothered so its currently impossible to actually drive into our driveway.  Some people on our road have built cement ramps onto the street, some have bought metal ramps and some are simply using sand bags to breach the gap.  The other effect of this, is that the same problem happens when the new road connects with an old road.  They do build a kind of makeshift ramp to connect the other roads but they are not very good.  I remember when we went on our bird trip coming across large ramps onto new sections of road and now I understand how these come into being.  Just one of the many quirks of life in Myanmar!

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