Saturday, January 16, 2016

So i'm in Burma

Yeah so i'm in Yangon, Myanmar for the next 4 months. Not too sure how i ended up here, and i think i'm still in a bit of culture (and weather!) shock. How to describe this place. It's a fascinating mess of old delapidated magnificent colonial architecture, combined with the chaotic mess of asia. Huge knots of power lines, stinky streets, mangy stray dogs (though everyone is super nice to them), barefoot monks wearing dark red robes and carrying parasols and their lunch in little stacked steel containers, to keep your rice separate from the rest. I'm totally getting one.
Our apartment is an office guest house for visiting staff. It's a david lynch style thing with flickering lights in creepy hallways, and bugs. We live on the 4th floor, with an elevator, in which the 4 button doesn't work. Given the number of power outages i prefer going to 3 and walking up or avoiding it altogether. Our room is on a bustling several lane street on which honking your horn seems obligatory 24h a day. You can't open the windows because of the mosquitos, though my next purchase is one of those tennis racket bug tasers, and a fan. That should do it. 
Despite the relative classyness of the apartment (teak floors, recessed lighting and fake marble tile, and international plugs which accept virtually any socket type), there are a few oddities, like, all the light switches are 10 cm from the floor? Which is great for me! none of the sockets are grounded so shorts are common, which makes ironing rather scary, and it unfortunately afflicted the hot water heater on day 1. i had one warm shower and it was my greatest moment here. Ok, it gets a little better each day but the bitterly cold shower with brain freeze each morning actually gives me nightmares. I alluded to asking to have it fixed and the roommates are all, what did you say little miss mansion fancy pants? The weather is ok now, cool in the nights, but apparently in a few months we'll all want to dip our heads in a bucket of ice cubes.    
The streets are peppered with shops with very weird names, like "most wonderful everything" and "mrs. Cow sorts" though we found our drinking spot called the "double happiness bar." Yes with two p's. And also the ubiquitous little food stands, next to which people eat while sitting on tiny children's stools, with their knees at their ears almost like they are squatting to poop. Why not just get normal sized chairs? I bought a couple for the balcony though, they are cute. 
Things oscillate between normal asian prices and bare bones cheap. A decent dinner is 5€. But i order lunch from the office secretary and she brings back little plastic bags of rice, curry, veggies for 900 Kyat which i guess is about 75 cents? Which hasn't made me sick yet. I'm going to get those steel pot things and ask for dinner, too. Everyone eats lunch together and share all their food from home (which they bring in warm, which means they cook in the morning? We had a myanmar roommate for a few days, she cooked mushrooms and rice and fish for breakfast) but i can't eat any because it's mega spicy. 

I have stopped trying to negotiate with taxis, instead, i just get in and pay them the correct fare. Until now no one has complained. Though i'm interested in testing out the rickshaws, these rickety bikes with sidecars driven by indians who until they have a customer lounge and read the newspaper, until i get the courage to ride my own bike. The way to work is actually quite mellow, through little side streets. I buy my veggies from old ladies and their kids wave to me and there's a spot under a tree where some kittens hang out. Kittens!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I heard when in Gabon that mosquitoes don't climb higher than third floor, which was why the upper flats were for managers although there was no elevators.