Well it seems like the entire world is stumbling towards the zombie apocalypse! Although there are still no cases in Myanmar (ha ha ha), government officials have forbidden any “large gatherings” (but have not defined what constitutes large) and cancelled all Thingyan celebrations in Yangon. Thingyan is the major water festival in Myanmar, and usually people build stages along the streets and throw water on each other for about a week. We are still having school as normal, but have been asked not to travel outside of Myanmar for the April break. So we cancelled our Vietnam trip which now makes 2 trips cancelled and I give up. We are just going to sit here in Yangon and have a staycation and try not to drown in our own sweat. Temperatures are already heating up, but by then the daily high will be in the mid 40s which is just really horrendous, hence really wanting to leave for a more reasonable climate. Oh well, lots of our friends are in the same boat so we will try to make the best of it!
It is really bizarre to see the news about all the hoarding that’s happening everywhere. We haven’t seen that at all here, although there was a rumor that the ex-pats started panicking after the government announcement about large gatherings and raided the grocery store. There were tales of long lines and empty shelves, but we went yesterday and all seemed normal. One thing that people here won’t do is panic buy toilet paper. All the toilets here come with what is known as a “bum gun,” a hose with a sprayer attached that is very handy actually once you get used to using it!
So, life is really moving along quite normally for the most part. We are still taking Nell on her walks around our neighbourhood. We have made quite a lot of creature friends along the way. It’s gotten to the point that we have to carry several different types of snacks for all our buddies! One of the most exotic is a hornbill that lives a few streets in back of us. He is (sadly) a pet but seems to be treated quite well and can often be seen perching in a tree in his driveway. The owners are quite friendly and told us the bird’s name is Aung Chin and that his favourite food is tomatoes. So guess who carries cherry tomatoes around with them on their walks? He is a very impressive creature, about 2 feet tall and very gentle.
Most of our friends are other dogs. Street dogs here seem to claim a bit of territory and you can usually count on them to be hanging around in more or less the same spot all the time. Last year we kept seeing two beautiful black and brown dogs that resembled small dobermans. They were curious but wouldn’t let us pet them. In May of last year the male got a gross case of mange and I was upset and wanted to help him. We called our vet and she dropped off some expired mange medication which I took and gave to the dog with some wet food for about a week. During this time I also named the two dogs Bonnie and Clyde and soon they would come running if they heard or saw me, knowing they were getting a tasty treat. I also spoke to my colleague about possibly trapping and neutering the pair as obviously that prevents more puppies but also can keep the male from being aggressive and annoying the people who live around that area (if dogs are docile they are very likely to be taken care of by the Burmese but if they get aggressive that’s when poisoning can occur). Clyde’s mange seemed to clear up pretty well and I was feeling so proud of myself when I suddenly realized that the “abandoned house” that they lived in was actually occupied and Bonnie and Clyde were someone’s pets! Whoops, sorry I almost kidnapped and neutered your dogs sir. They are actually very well taken care of and probably I double-dosed his mange treatments but all turned out well in the end! They both still come running when they hear us because of course we still feed them little treats when we are carrying them. Clyde can almost reliably “shake” when I ask him to!
There is another pack of dogs on our same walking route that is just enormous. They are pretty chilled out though, and we have always attributed that to the fact that their pack leader (who we call Boss Man) is very laid back and has no problem with Nell at all. We often would see Boss Man trotting around, surveying his territory but he was kind of stand-offish. A few weeks ago I saw him and he was absolutely riddled with ticks. They were in his ears and hanging off his eyes and all over. It was so sad and really worrying. We had a tick pill left from the pile of medicine they vet gad given us for Clyde, so we went back and fed him the pill, thinking we would need to get some more as one dose probably wouldn’t cut it. But 24 hours later we saw him and he was clear of ticks! It was amazing and we are so happy he is back to his old self.
This was when he had all the ticks, poor guy.
We also see a family of dogs when we walk Nell at the lake on the weekends. They are very distinctive and obviously all related because they have strange ears. We call the guy at the top of this post Freddie Flat Ears and then there is Son of Fred, Uncle Fred and more recently Fred’s new puppies, one of which has the ears but the other has one ear from Fred and one stand-up ear from mom! So cute. Also near the lake we encounter two dogs who like to sneak attack Nell from behind, which is very annoying. They are a lovely chocolate colour though, so we started calling them Cadbury. The female obviously had puppies and was nursing them, so we started calling her Dairy Milk. The male is now called Whole Nut for reasons I will let you figure out on your own!
Other animal encounters in the neighbourhood include seeing a lady grazing her goats by the side of the road and me being chased into school by an attack goose. No one has any idea where it came from, but it did NOT like me on my scooter and chased me all the way down the road into the front of school. Quite a few people witnessed the incident and thought it was hilarious. A security guard was sent out to catch it before it got a kid.
Speaking of kids, for our last creature encounter I will share with you a little ditty from my week. On Tuesday a third grader trotted up to me in the library and announced “last night my mom told me how a woman gets pregnant. Do YOU know? It’s DISGUSTING.” Kids. They keep you entertained.