Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Myanmar: The End

Here's the final odds and ends from our trip to Myanmar:

Oddity #1: I've mentioned that it was hot more than a few times in my recent blogs. However, who knew that part of Mynmar was a desert! In Bagan there were cacti everywhere!

Oddity #2: There were these wooden chairs all over Bagan that were extremely comfortable. If I had the money and a place to put the chairs, I would have shipped a dozen of them to the states. These would make for amazing chairs for porches. Okay, that's not odd but these chairs rocked. What is odd is this woman transporting four of them.

Oddity #3: Under the category of things hanging from ceilings and banisters I have two example:

1. There were lighters always hanging from ceilings at tea shops. To me this is genius. Smokers don't need to carry around lighters or matches and shops don't need to worry about losing their lighters.

2. Many homes in Yangon had binder clips hanging from long strings attached to their windows/porches, etc. Basically instead of climbing down multiple flights of stairs, people would pull on the clips which would ring a bell in someone's house. The person in the house would then look out the window and pull up the string to grab whatever was attached. Often there were buckets attached to the string in case there were bigger things to pull up.

Oddity #4: There were American sized watermelons! The watermelons in Vietnam, are half the size of American watermelons.

Also in the fruit department: Myanmar had the best papaya I've ever tasted. I'm usually not a big papaya fan but the papayas in this country were absolutely delicious. Huyen and I ate one a day once we discovered how good they were.

Oddity #5: I read a lot about trains in Mynamar. The other day an anonymous person wrote a comment about taking the steam trains. Well, there were a few problems with this. First, I read that the trains are owned by the government so the money would go directly to the junta. Secondly, everyone said the trains were slower than the buses. Third and probably the biggest problem, WE SAW NO TRAINS! On one of our bus trips the highway ran parallel to the train tracks. We were literally 100 feet from the train tracks for 8 hours and not one train passed either way. I was convinced that there were actualy no trains in Myanmar until I saw this one on our last day there. This strain was going no more than 3 miles per hour and I'm pretty sure wasn't carrying any passengers.

Oddity #6: Perhaps the weirdest thing I ever saw was a Myanmar music video on a bus. As I've mentioned before, music videos on buses are the norm in southeast Asia. However, this one was strange because the lead singer was wearing a vintage Vancouver Canucks jersey. As a big hockey fan I recognized it right away and it just made no sense. I'm pretty sure nobody in Myanmar ever heard of the Vancouver Canucks (I'm still pissed they lost game 7 to the Rangers in '94). The only thing that made the jersey make any sense at all to me was when I saw this huge banner on the street in Yangon:

The banner is for field hockey but at least it is some sort of hockey.

Oddity #7: There are jars of public water all over Bagon. Who fills this water? And where is it coming from?

Oddity #8: I scream like a girl. While Huyen and I were riding bikes in Bagan we went to one temple that was completely empty. We decided to climb up to the top. We went into the temple and started to head up the staircase which was extremely dusty and covered in spider webs. Clearly nobody had been up it in a long time. Huyen, being the brave person she is, darted up the stairs. I followed her up and just as I was about to take my last step a mouse jumped out at me. I screamed louder than I'm pretty sure I've ever screamed. The mouse just came out of nowhere!!!

Oddity #9: I've also mentioned on occasion that the cars were all old and I'm pretty sure in junk yards at some point. Only once did we get in a car with electric windows. Many times though we got into cars with manual windows that were missing the crank. This taxi happened to have a crank which the driver handed to me when we got into the car. Gotta love Myanmar!!!