…you could be working in the construction industry in Myanmar. On May 3rd, a Sunday and the day before we got Mabel, the house directly behind us started getting torn down. Houses are built right up to the edge of the land here so this house is about 3 feet away from ours. At first they started removing the tiles from the roof and then wooden beams etc. We then started seeing them hammering away at the floor they were literally standing on with sledge hammers.
At this point we were a bit worried about the potential noise but noted that there was no machinery being used. Funnily enough, there are a load of government employed workers working on the drains in the street. They have to dig up the road and even those guys have jack hammers with small portable generators.
Not so, the crew working on the destruction of the house behind us. There is another house built right next to it and they also started in on that one too. There were two houses built on one plot and they are both being torn down. The only piece of equipment you could call technical is an oxyacetylene torch that they use to cut the rebar (metal inside the concrete). I am astonished that we have not witnessed several accidents as there is no safety equipment or clothing of any kind. Most of the workers wear flip flops but some go barefoot. It seems an odd time to start a construction or destruction project as it has now started raining but even when we get monsoon rains, they still hammer away with their sledge hammers. It feels like you are watching a movie from the 1930’s where prisoners are hammering rocks. Before the rains is the hottest time so they were sometimes working in full sun at about 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).
When they want to take down a whole wall they weaken it at the base with their trusty sledge hammers and then tie a rope to the top and pull. One time I witnessed them doing this to a two storey wall and as the rope was really high it was not slack when it came down and one guy who was holding the rope was thrown a few feet. He was fine though and no one batted an eyelid.
They get paid by the day and we understand that the going rate is around 5,000 Kyat (£2.81, $3.56) per day. Yesterday they pulled down the last big wall, 5 weeks after starting.
The main crew is about 13 guys although they were switched out for a couple of weeks during the middle of the project. We have no idea what will go up in place of the old buildings but considering most of the buildings that are going up it is unlikely to be anything good. Especially as the owner won’t stretch to a single jack hammer. Anyway, we shall see. Most build projects start and then have many breaks before being finally completed. There is one such project near our house that has barely been touched since we moved in. The funny thing is that it has had a bit of work done to it but not much.
In other news we are seeing a lot of lizards lately. I think it might be their mating season. I have discovered that the one we see often is the blue-crested lizard and is quite an impressive creature up close. They hang out on tree trunks and often allow you to get quite close.
Our bougainvillea occasionally attracts butterflies and today I got the below photo which I was pleased with as I find butterfly photos particularly challenging. I could never be a lepidopterist, that’s for sure. (Fun fact, the writer Nabokov was a highly regarded lepidopterist.)
In final wildlife news I have just identified my 44th Yangon bird which is a Plaintive Cuckoo. I first discovered it on our lake walk and have seen and photographed it several times since but wasn’t really sure of the identification until I saw and heard it singing. Only then was I able to confirm the species. This is the best shot for now but I am holding out for a better one soon.