10 August 2013

moving home

i have very mixed feelings about leaving myanmar.

i don't think our flight tomorrow will be as empty as our last domestic one.

on one hand i'm anxious to move on and get ready for argentina. we've seen really everything worth seeing in yangon and we're totally sick of big gold pagodas. we're sick of city filth and not being able to cook for ourselves. i'm looking forward to running and doing yoga and going to tae kwon do again. we've been sitting around watching tv and reading and doing nothing in the hotel (luckily, a very beautiful hotel with gardens and a view and an awesome pool). all my shirts somewhat smell because i've done so little laundry, and we all finally admitted today that we're sick of wearing the same clothes and just can't wait to have a whole closet of choices at home. i'm excited to see the sun again and to have high-speed internet, though i appreciated the break from being connected 24/7. i miss people and i'm sick of the time difference and i can't wait to crawl into my own bed with actual sheets (they don't have sheets here, only blankets...)

the grounds of the hotel.

your friendly backyard dinosaur.

but on the other hand this has been an incredible experience to learn, grow, bond, explore, and relax. sitting around in a beautiful place doing nothing (or reading a memoir on burma, as i currently am) is lovely. i love our rituals of playing card games in the lobby at night and of writing blog posts together and looking through photos. i love fun shared moments, like watching tiger play soccer today with some talented kids at the deaf school, where he then donated the non-deflating soccer balls he'd brought for this purpose. we've had a great time recording funny quotes and moments and looking back on them a few days later. we've sung along to pirated songs in taxis (they're american pop songs, but missing backup vocal or bass tracks) and taken photos with strangers and watched the same episodes of "pitbulls and parolees" on tv a few too many times. we've bought everything with cash, no credit cards, for a month. we've survived crossing the street (barely) and skipping traffic jams by speeding along on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic. we've laughed off unpleasant experiences with with the little "cultural experience!" jingle that tiger accidentally invented.


fitting 6 or 7 people into a sedan taxi is no easy task.

art classes were a great use of time even if we did marvel at the cultural difference in education philosophy: "learning" art involved copying the assigned landscape line by line and then watching as the (very sweet, very talented) teacher "fixed it" for you. and then coming back the next day to find she had painted over it completely. so while we did manage to pick up a few painting techniques, we got no individuality and no real say in the final product (she even re-did tiger's signature because it wasn't satisfactory) and later laughed at the absurdity, at how little we could understand this completely different approach. we worked hard, but is it even our art? but of course every class was still worth it, for something to do, for a chance to learn a new skill, and for the stories we're bringing home, along with a couple of very nice, mostly stock paintings.

actual printed tickets - and the airline totally butchered our names.

and then there's myanmar itself. i loved going to crazy pagodas that are completely unique to burma, nothing like anything i've seen or will see anywhere else. i love the wildlife - the extremely loud birds at our hotel, the tropical plants and palms and giant teak and banyan trees. i'll miss fresh fruit juice at every meal. seeing aung san suu kyi's house was surprisingly powerful, and reading the opposition newspaper is unbelievable. i'm still charmed and amused by the quirks of this undeveloped country, like the men who cut grass at the park literally with scythes - guess even push lawnmowers haven't made it here yet - or, even better, the local women who are building the new runway at the airport in bagan first by balancing shallow baskets of rocks on their heads to carry from a large pile to the actual site, then carefully constructing the tarmac by hand, stone by thoughtfully placed stone.


we drove by the lady's house again today.

had a lot of fun reading this newspaper.

you can see the crowd of women working to build the new runway.

truffula trees?!

the myanmar people have been amazing. every guide has been genuinely engaged and knowledgeable, and every taxi driver interested in why we're here and whether we've already learned about the "vegetable market, very cheap, very cheap" and telling us that grandad's a "smartly father," whatever that means. random people have stopped on the street to direct us or to warn us about a missing stone in the sidewalk. everyone, from market vendors to villagers, genuinely wanted to share with us their country and their culture. dad's work colleagues treated us like family and introduced us to myanmar food eaten like myanmar people. the kindness here is so touching. the culture is truly welcoming and the people are truly friendly, and i don't care how cliché that sounds.

panda fish?!

a popular menu item...

i can only hope that i've appreciated this country as much as i can and have used my limited time here to its fullest. and with that, i can't be too sad to leave. we've made the most of this trip.

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