Since our last post we had a 1 week holiday which is the celebration of the Myanmar New Year called Thingyan. Normally, it is a water festival and large stations are set up all over the place for the purposes of soaking passers by. However, due to protests, it didn’t really happen this year which was a shame. Travel in the country is possible and we do now have a car but in the end we decided to stay put in Yangon.
It was a pretty quiet week for us but we did have a few goals for the week which were mainly food based. One thing we did which was fun was to go down to 19th street which is where they have a street food market at night. This involves finding a seat and then choosing food that gets grilled for you. The whole evening we only saw one other westerner who walked by a couple of times. Despite our oddity in that crowd no one really cared that we were there and just treated us like everyone else which was actually quite nice.
Another goal was to go the the Shwedagon which is the main temple in Yangon. We’ve been a few times before but every time you can’t help but be impressed. For one thing, it is an active temple so people are worshipping all the time which gives the place a very authentic feel. Everyone who comes to Yangon visits this temple but for most people it is also a religious experience.
Next up was the snake temple which we’ve been to before but this time we drove. It was a good hour or more away but having your own car prevents the mad scramble after you cross the river on the people ferry for a taxi on the other side. Taxis in Yangon can be pretty ropey but those taxis are particularly bad. Definitely no air con. The snakes I believe are all Burmese pythons. They are brought by local farmers who bring them instead of killing them and then the monks take care of them. The temple is tiny and there must be at least 50 snakes there!
One other thing was making lanterns with our friend who is also the art teacher. He basically did all the hard work with coming up with the design and getting it all ready. We essentially tidied them, up and assembled them. It was fun helped with some wine along the way and the finished product actually looks quite good. They are in the style of a Bagan temple.
Finally, we also went to a little cocktail place that we haven’t been to since before Covid. It’s a tiny, hole in the wall place which has seating for about 8 people. The guy lists off ingredients he has and gives you a few ideas. You then choose a cocktail and at the end you pay whatever you like!
Graduation at school also happened this week, helpfully hosted at a hotel owned by one of the graduating class. I was there mainly to watch over the Facebook live stream and a few other bits and pieces. It was a million times less stressful than the last two which I personally hosted on zoom. That’s the last major event of the year so it felt very good to get it over with.
Traffic light roulette. This is when you decide to go out to eat at a restaurant when the power goes out so that you can take advantage of their generator power. However, as the power is out none of the traffic lights work. This can be somewhat hair raising at major junctions! We are still on a cycle of power outages although it has slightly improved. Now, instead of 8 hours a day staggered at different time intervals we have 12 hours power outage over 2 days in 4 hour bursts. You want to know how to save the planet – turn the power off! We’ve been living with it since March and barely anyone complains. Imagine you’re in a school in a big assembly with a bunch of young kids and the power goes out. In England or the US you can just imagine the squeals coming from all quarters. At our school, when this happens no one bats an eyelid. It’s just something that happens everyday.