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  Yangon  |  30.05.08
 
 

Manuel wasn't feeling well last night so we gave him 2 night nurse so he could get a good nights sleep. We joked about how he would be in such a deep sleep that we could rob all his things and he'd never do couch surfing again...then we laughed even harder that there was nothing to steal! So it was just me and Lesh for breakfast at Lucky Seven. Catching the bus was a bit of a nightmare as the buses screech into the bus stop and hardly stop moving their wheels before they are off again. They certainly don't wait for 2 foreigners to ask if this is the right bus. After umpteen buses going past we found one that waited long enough and we jumped on. It was packed inside and we had to stand for most of the way which was not good for my dodgy knees and ankles. We both studied the landscape out the window to make sure we were going the right way. Everything went well until we approached the village where we change buses. The road forks and we should have gone left and th e bus went right. We jumped towards the door but of course they won't let us off until its the bus stop. So we drive on for 5 minutes and I am wondering how my poor legs are going to cope with retracing our steps. They finally let us off at the temple which looks like Shwedagon. We realise that we can cut through the temple grounds and not be that far away from where we catch the 2nd bus. Again we watch the scenery go by intensely so we don't go past our stop but the driver is speeding along so fast that by the time we see it he has already gone past and we have to get down 5 minutes down the road. We finally reach the school at 10:45am.

Whe n we walk past the water catcher we can see it has been attacked by a pretty ferocious wind and the bamboo splints that are holding the sheet of plastic has snapped in many places. Bamboo is a really strong material so the wind must have been fierce. Where the water tank is placed is on top of a hill and it does catch the wind so easy so a structure like this which isn't so sturdy is at the mercy of the monsoon winds that are coming more and more regular. It is plain to see that the tarpaulin is acting more as a sail that anything else and if it lasts 1 more week of winds we will be lucky. So tho it pains us we admit it is not the best design in the world and we take t he structure down. Lesh is not deterred...he is already thinking of a better more efficient way of collecting the much needed water. He thinks they should be utilising the water running off the roof of the sch o ol since that is such a large surface area. Right now when it rains the water just gushes down into the ground and is wasted. He talks to Jyotish about it and we tell him that we will supply a water tank as a personal donation and that we will look for one in Yangon tomorrow.

So now we are at a loose end. There are 4 villagers who are busy building the 2nd classroom, putting the bamboo structure up. Lesh is determined to go and help them but since he has no idea what to do he has to gain their trust and acceptance. I understand that I will never gain that acceptance and I go to the nursery and play with the kids. Slowly they let Lesh do more and more things and by the end of the day he is busy hammering away with them. I feel so proud to see Lesh building the classroom. He has been accepted and is being useful and this is how I envisaged our volunteering time to be.

It is thundering in the distance and we decide to leave before the rain comes down. When we get back to the flat Manuel informs us that he has been sick all day with diarrhoea. He thinks it may have been caused by the night nurse but I highly doubt it. We had made plans to go to the Strand for a few drinks tonight and although he is sick Manuel refuses to allow a bit of diarrhoea spoil his night! The Strand is the poshest hotel in Burma. Built by the brothers of the Raffles fame, a suite here costs $900! That's USD not kyat! You may be wondering why we would choose a place like this for a Friday night out....well its happy hour on a Friday and all drink are half price from 5-11pm! Obviously we turn up at just after 5pm like eager beavers...totally wanting to get our monies worth! Joseph from the school joins us too and by 5.15pm I am sat in a huge leather armchair sipping a Bombay Saphire g'n't...ahhhhh bliss! We talk the night away and try a few different drinks. I deviate away by having a Singapore Sling but its nowhere near as nice so I go back to my g'n't. By 9pm it is very busy in the bar. All the expats seem to congregate here for a few drinks before they go out. We leave just as it is booming but we are all in need of food. Manuel decides he would rather go home as he is not feeling too good and me, Lesh and Joseph go for some dinner.

Joseph takes us to a nigh t club with a restaurant underneath. The food is so so but the entertainment is certainly different. There is a big stage a t the front of the restaurant and throughout the meal there are different girls who come out and sing. The singing is aweful but that's not the main point. As the girls sing, men in the audience can buy the girl a garland which is placed around her as she sings. I presume the garland to them is their commision. Each garland costs 3000 kyat (approx $3) and the more they collect the more bonus they get. The garland does not officially mean anything once the show is finnished...however if a guy buys a girl a lot of garlands then it is up to her if she wants to spend a bit more time with the mystery guy. It is not an obgligation but she can if she wants. Yes it is as dodgy as it sounds. As well as singers they have fashion shows which are crazy. The women all wear the same dress and they walk up and down the stage as if in a fashion show. I am not sure if they are trying to copy the catwalks of Milan or London but they all look miserable as sin....as in really scowling. The aim of the models is also to get garlands...so it would be so much better if they did smile a little bit. Anyway it is all really bizarre but I heard about these fashion shows before and at least I can say I have been to see one .

After eating we are all feeling really full and we don't make it upstairs to the club for a boogie. Lesh is tired, my feet are starting to swell and we are all low on cash. So we decide to wait and go with Manuel another night.

 

 

 
 
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