We are now officially on our April break. Our original plan had us taking a train from Beijing to go see the Terracotta Warriors today. Then our second plan had us getting on a houseboat in Halong Bay today. The reality is I am sitting on my front porch in Yangon, watching Gav potter around in the “garden.”There is a baby crow who is just about ready to fly away but is spending some time hopping around our water tank and its parents are very irked at us being outside. There is a lot of dive-bombing and screaming at Gav that is happening!
Earlier this week it became clear that the government was going to be serious about issuing a “voluntary” stay-at-home order during this 10 day holiday period. Don’t know what part was voluntary, there were messages out from all the embassies saying that we risked arrest and 3-6 months in jail if we were caught leaving the house for anything other than food or medicine. Of course Gavin and I took this pretty seriously and wondered how we were going to walk the dog, etc. We decided on day 1 of the lockdown (Friday) to get up and walk the dog, just in the local streets, at 5:45 am. Hardly anyone was out and we only saw one car, which cemented our original thoughts that actually this lockdown was pretty serious. I didn’t dare do my run down the the lake path because I was scared of getting yelled at or hauled away to a Myanmar prison. Well, in the days since it seems like the lockdown is not that draconian. Lots of people are going on their regular walks, even the lake path is officially open with amended hours. So actually I think the government was just worried about large family Thingyan gatherings, not random expat dog walkers. Whew.
One thing that happens every year at Thingyan is businesses close and the city pretty much shuts down. Almost no expats experience this as everyone uses this holiday to travel, so this is the first time that most people have been affected by the closures. All grocery stores are closed for six days, which of course made the panic buying at the local fancy store even worse. Everything was still available, but the queues to check out became ridiculous, everyone was wearing masks and gloves and the amount of hand sanitizer being used was epic. Gav and I soon discovered that it was much better to arrive at opening time, run and get a few things each and meet at the check out before anyone else had a chance to maneuver their giant carts towards the exit. Here is a shot of us executing the plan earlier this week. We only went for the absolute essentials!
We now have all the food we could possibly need for the next week. We had our cleaner come two days last week and she must know that our cook is no longer cooking for us. Both days she came bearing meals that her husband (a furloughed hotel chef) had made for us. Burmese people are really so very kind. Our fridge is absolutely jammed full!
A local brewery saw an opportunity to take advantage of the lockdown situation and has started selling a new beer. At first I ordered some just for the chuckle about the name, but once we tried it we were blow away. London people, it is a dead ringer for Beavertown’s Neck Oil! We have to order more-the problem is it has no preservatives so has to be kept in the fridge. And you can see the issue there. Gav and I will have to get on the hard task of drinking some of the other beer currently taking up space. It’s a tough life.
So, we are facing a week of break with no where to go. But we are finding ways to fill the time. We have had some Zoom pub sessions with friends (currently in Abu Dhabi and Boston) (someone always gets screwed on the time zone and has to have coffee).
It’s funny that although we live in such different places, the global lockdown is leading all of us to have the same experiences-stay at home orders, crowded grocery stores, general pervasive panicky feeling that we may not have enough wine….
My lockdown buddy is dealing with the stay at home order by diving headfirst into being Gardner Gav. He has been manically visiting the garden center (really a bunch of different shacks halfway to downtown that all sell plants) so gather a collection of flowers and bits of sod. He is redoing our grass, building some planters and making our front area a lot more pleasant. It’s very hot, sweaty work so I watch from the shade and once in a while jump in to hold something still while he saws.
I keep seeing at this stuff on social media about how the lockdown is a dream come true for dogs around the world. I’m not so sure about Nell. She loves a routine and can tell that something is not right. I think she is mad that our cleaner is not coming every day and she’s definitely mad our cook hasn’t been around (we found out that she brought special treats and distributed them liberally). Sometimes Nell just sits by the gate and wags her tail when Burmese ladies walk by, hopeful it might be one of her friends. With us, sometimes she just takes herself inside to sit on the couch with her blanket, telling us with her eyes “people, come on, I need some alone time!” Poor dog.
We always joke that Olga is missing her 17 daily naps. So I know what you mean about Nell and her disrupted routines! The gardens of the world must be undergoing an unheard-of renaissance at the moment. We’ve been working in ours practically nonstop.