Whoops, it’s been a while. We ended the school year back in June, but it was the biggest “whomp whomp” ending to a year ever. Not only was it strange that there were no kids on the last day, at least half our faculty were gone as well. Our end of year “party” did take place physically at school, but we were required to wear masks and about 80% of the teachers chose to Zoom in. I did ask the director how I was supposed to drink my beer with my mask on. I did not get an answer.
It actually turned out to be super fun-those of us that were there in person just went up to the big screen to chat to everyone who zoomed in and it ended up being very entertaining, even if I did have to break the rules and pull my mask down to drink my beer.
Anyway, after school ended you would think that things would calm down and we would feel like summer had begun, even if we were stuck in Myanmar and unable to do anything we planned. But no. Our school decided that we were going to offer students a new option for learning come August, a self-directed learning platform that everyone needed to pitch in and complete. So, instead of a nice relaxing break I have been frantically translating lesson plans that I am given onto this new platform. There have been tears (mine), unreasonable demands (admin’s) and moments pure hilarity when it became clear that none of our faculty have mastered the art of choosing a good thumbnail for their teaching videos (the entire tech team). It added insult to injury when I would be in yet another meeting at 9am and realize, “Oh, I was supposed to be arriving at our villas on the water in Bali today” or “today we should have been leaving for London” but I guess everyone all over the world is in that boat. I finished the project yesterday, and now I have 4 weeks before the madness begins again. We are opening in person, although students have the choice to stay at home and join class synchronously or use the new self-directly platform instead.
We did get a chance to go away for a brief few days a few weeks ago. Myanmar opened up a bit to allow travel within the country without quarantine on the 1st of July. We took the opportunity to get out of Yangon for the first time since February and drove to a place in the East called Hpa An. Hpa An is famous for its mountainous landscape and caves filled with Buddahs. We had a wonderful time and stayed in a great hotel. It was just the break we needed after working non-stop for so long.
We also did a little kayaking trip on the flooded rice patty fields. It was super fun on the way out, following the fields until we got to a spot to do a little hike to a traditional village. The way back was another story-I had not fully appreciated that the patty fields had a little current that was very much in our favor on the way out. The way back was significantly harder and at the end I needed the guide to tow me the last few meters into the lagoon where we started. Oh dear. Gav did fine even thought he always whines that he hates kayaking. I will remind him of this next time he doesn’t want to do it.
Aside from that little trip we have just stayed here in Yangon. Myanmar is still not allowing flights into the country so we knew we couldn’t leave. Things are getting back to more normal here, restaurants are about 60% open (although I did make Gav walk 30 minutes to dinner last night without checking if they were open for dine-in and when we got there it was boarded up) and you can do things like get your hair cut. Although that looks a little different now too..
To help with the Pandemic Boredom, I have engaged in a few things that previously I thought only Pioneers did:
- Made mayo
- Made hummous
- Cut my own hair
- Used actual bleach in my laundry
- Gutted a fish to cook (this was accidental as I thought “cleaned” meant the fish had no guts, I was wrong)
- And most impressively, made my own outdoor lighting!
To be fair, the last one was 100% our crafty friend Greg’s doing. He has spent a lot of time making his own apartment a beautiful space and knew we wanted some (nice, not Myanmar florescent) lighting as it gets dark so early here. So one day last week he came over with all the supplies and set up an assembly line and we dismantled a few extension cords, taped, soldered and hot glued and voila! Many hours later we had our lights!
Gav did almost kill Greg as he left one of the power cables plugged in as Greg cut it, but luckily that only killed all the lights in the house and not our friend.
We also had some guys come and trim our palm trees as the coconuts have started falling and they seriously could kill you. They already have smashed some of our pots. Watching them prune the trees was amazing-they climb up with bare feet and just hack away at the coconuts and the giant fronds. Then they strategically toss or lower them down, all with a machete hanging off their belt and no safety gear.
We now have a giant pile of coconuts which hopefully we can give away. The guys machete-d one open for us and it was delicious! But we would for sure chop our own hands off if we tried that so other people will have to use them.
In two days we are going on another little adventure before school starts. We are going to see Mandalay and back to Bagan which we visited our first December here. It might rain the whole time, but we are really looking forward to it.
I will leave you with a photo of this exciting new store at the Mall! Perfect for that post-pandemic body.