Weeks 23 to 27: 01/03 – 01/31

After leaving Cambodia, my blogging consistency ceased. I will also no longer give the pretense that I am writing in the present. About 50% of my blog posts thus far have been written well after the actual week occurred.

I have broken up our time in Myanmar into two posts, both about 4 weeks long.

In Myanmar, I worked for a mini-grid startup company called Micropower International. In the first 3 weeks of my work, it was just the CEO and I sitting at the same desk in a small office room. He sat at on end of the desk facing one-way, and I sat on the other end of the desk facing the other way. It worked surprisingly well.

Natasha was conducting her own independent research which proved particularly rewarding for her. Over our two months here, she conducted interviews with different organizations, joined me on some of my village surveys, which I will describe in the second post, and did her own field work in the south of Myanmar, which I will also describe in the second post.

Nithya, Natasha’s best friend, was also working in Yangon at the time. We shared an apartment together and got to spend plenty of time together.

 

 

 

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A view from the stairwell outside our apartment.

We lived a five-minute walk away from Myanmar Plaza, one of the more upscale shopping malls in Yangon. While Tasha and I are not “mall people”, we found ourselves there fairly often, especially me. The food-court was just a little too convenient and I can’t resist some good pho…

Next to Myanmar Plaza is a large reservoir which had a nice western view at sunset. I would often take longer walks along the bank.

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This is a panorama near the end of the walk. The big building on the left is Myanmar plaza.
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I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I never visited the main tourist attraction in Yangon, Shwedagon. Shwedagon is the biggest Buddhist temple in Myanmar.
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One weekend, we attended an art exhibition at the main colonial building in Yangon shown above. The building was the headquarters for the British during their colonization of Myanmar.

The video below shows the entrance to the exhibition.

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I liked some of the pieces in the exhibition like this one, though Natasha and Nithya weren’t too keen on the artist.
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The long, deserted hallways gave the building an eerie feel. I can’t imagine what life was like inside the building during the colonization.
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One of our roommates left in the first few weeks of our arrival. We got along well, so we were sad to see him go! Another of our roommates bought him a rainbow cake.
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After eating, I made some art myself! Can you guess what it is?
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The next morning we had a pancake breakfast to wish him well.
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A panorama of our room.
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Another pagoda in downtown Yangon.
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A government building in Yangon.
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And an informal rock concert across the street from the building above.
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Natasha and Nithya enjoy some tea leaf salad – one of the main dishes in Myanmar. It is made of fermented tea leaves, fried garlic and lentils, peanuts, garlic, chili, and sometimes tomatoes and cabbage.
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You often drink tea with the tea leaf salad. The salad was our favorite dish!
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A view of downtown Yangon.

Here is a random video I took while walking around downtown.

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Yakun was a tea and coffee shop that we frequented while in Myanmar. They are based in Singapore and have treats from around Southeast Asia like kaya toast, which is toast with kaya jam on it. Kaya jam is made from coconuts and is really yummy.
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Sunset along the reservoir near our apartment.
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More pancakes! The green jar on the right is Kaya.
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Another panorama of the reservoir.

During the end of January, Natasha’s friend Sierra visited us from Hong Kong over Chinese New Year. We visited Bagan, the site of the Burman empire around 1100 AD. The Burman empire was at its peak around the same time as the Khmer empire, which we visited while leaving Cambodia. It is interesting to see how Bagan was different from Angkor and how it reflected cultural differences between the people.

We took a night bus on Thursday night to arrive Friday morning in Bagan for sunrise.

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Sunrise overlooking a temple

 

 

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There is the sun and some hot air balloons!

 

 

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Dustin was feeling a little grumpy after sleeping on a bus all night.

 

 

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Thought it was worth it!

In the town nearby the ruins, they let you rent electric scooters, so we enjoyed two days of scootering around the ruins. It was nice having the autonomy to explore.

 

 

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One of the main temples, though I forget the name.

 

 

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A statue of Buddha. Bagan is basically hundreds of temples that contain statues of Buddha. That’s basically Bagan in a nutshell.

 

The have goats too.

 

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Atop one of the temples with a few more in the distance.

 

 

Here is a video of the temples.

And another.

 

 

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We also visited a water pump. Did you expect anything different from me?

 

 

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The pump was in the background of this picture. They were watering crops along the river bank.

We also took a cooking class while in Bagan to learn to cook Myanmar food.

 

 

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Some of our ingredients.

 

 

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Sierra, Natasha, and me learning how to write Myanmar numbers from our cooking teacher.
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I’m stirring the pot.
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All of our dishes, which include chicken, pork, and fish curries as well as a veggie dish.
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A close up of the stoves and the simmering pot.

 

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The meal when everything was finished! It was really yummy :)

 

 

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More temples
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And some more.
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All with Buddha statues in them.

 

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Some selfies waiting for sunset atop one of the temples.

 

 

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And the sunset.

Hopefully, soon I will share photos from our second month in Myanmar, though I may choose to post pictures from our time in Tanzania and Uganda first since we are already in Uganda.

 

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