“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

News and events Oct/Nov 07

The other day, when I was looking everywhere to find Vaseline (which I didn't ever find), I watched a plastic bag scuttle across the street. Sure, plastic bags are everywhere, and they often crinkle in the wind. What amazed me was the speed and directness of this bag, until I realized that it was really a camouflaged rat! Then it rapidly descended into a pothole in the ground, and I had to smile!!

Such is life here as we return to normalcy, sans a few essentials, like my photo site flickr and of course, this blog. The internet is painfully slow, as usual, but life goes on. What have I been up to? Well, after I spent a week lazing around Bangkok with my dad (yay Chatachuk Market!!) I spent a weekend in Ngwe Saung beach on a special deal through a hotel here. Such a good weekend—a really good bunch of people from all sorts of walks of life in Yangon. We had a BBQ by the beach and I got sunburned because I rode too long on my motorbike!

Had my last assignment for this degree that I'm doing. Hopefully, my GradDipEd will be over and done with by Christmas. What a relief. I have time to read and do other things. Had better get along with the paperwork if I'm to use it for job searching for next year. Where do I want to go next? Former Yugoslavia? Yemen? Libya? The Baltic? Ethiopia? Eastern Europe? Iran?

A friend, Hayley, and I are coaching the girls' soccer team and that's in full swing… games every week. They're a great bunch of girls, and we head to Chiang Mai next week for a tournament as a culmination of the season. I've learned that it's a bad idea to be around them after 4 donuts at lunchtime!!

I'm also organizing a Week Without Walls trip for the first week of my Christmas vacation. I am overly ambitious of course, and decided to take them to learn how to ski in Korea. Things have been stop and start from the get go, and I'm still hoping things will smooth out, considering that it's in 3 weeks!   Anyway, it should be good… after which I get back to Yangon and my brother and parents arrive for some quality travelling time. It'll be January in no time.

Went to Kyaiktyo last weekend with some co-workers. It's the pilgrimage site of the Golden Rock. Yet another bizarre Buddhist monument in Myanmar, but it was a great weekend. Spent the first day up at the rock watching the hundreds of pilgrims who set up camp on top of the mountain. The second had, Paula, Tim and I hiked up to the rock—4 hours up! We went looking for the waterfall, which was a bit of an adventure and another 2 hour walk straight down then up again. Lots of steps, but was feeling very fit for not stopping all the time like I usually do! I was feeling poetic for the next bit, so excuse the fluty words.

We took a long lazy train trip back to Yangon. The sun filtered through the open windows and the breeze blew gently past our swiveling $4 dentist-chair seats. The haystacks glowed golden, the fields were green and fertile and ready to reap. We talked idly about whether water buffalo looked more similar to pigs or cows. The little muddy creeks we clicked past had tiny long boats loaded high with white sacks, pushing the sides almost under the water. When we came to a bridge, the train slowed to let us cross the cross-hatch iron structure, coincidentally allowing us maximum exposure to the cool river breezes. Little men's heads marched past, their bodies half hidden in fields of wheat, large loads of wood or branches piled high on their heads. Women in coned hats worked the soil or moved the animals near their simple wooden huts. Gleaming white and shining golden payas atop grassy mounds appeared in fields or simply as pointy tips above the tree-tops. Around noon, many lay napping under straw sheets. Horned Brahmins with sagging double chins flicked away flies and children ran joyfully through villages. The train's route was far pleasanter than the bus--going through the rural fields, and we were high up with an excellent view over the padis. We didn't go very fast, but the gentle lolling quickly put me to sleep.

                A romantic perspective this no doubt is, there were also clothes lines strung with shabby, holey, frequently-washed clothes, trash in random places along every path, and extreme poverty at every turn. Perhaps I idealize their happiness? Sure there are squalid ponds of mosquitoes and sewerage and a little family of mice appeared beneath our feet, zipping from the haven of one chair to another, scuttling under the blocks, almost too quick to see. The train doors flapped open and closed like a saloon, and the occasional faint whiff of toilet was putrid.

                The cool breeze combined with the wide open delta vistas provided for a very relaxing trip.

Anyway, am back in Yangon now, grinding away at our last few events of the semester. I just figured out that this email-to-blog thing works (Thanks, Sam!) so will try and post more often! Pictures are on facebook—if you're not a member, join now!!


Sunday, November 25, 2007


I just want to test my email-to-blog-function to see if its working because blogger is banned!!!

Natalya Marquand
Yangon International Educare Center
No. W-24 Mya Kan Thar Main Road
5th Quarter, Hlaing Township
Home phone: +95-1-562947

"Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder." (Thoreau)