I’ve arrived in Mawlamyine, my final destination in Myanmar. This will be my home for the next 7 months.
Last week was another week filled with language and culture learning, along with Cuso training and information. With our language teacher, Thu Thu, we visited a large reclining Buddha and the People’s Park in Yangon. Both were great sights to see. Of course we also ate some great Myanmar food!
We also visited a very traditional, small monastery on Thursday, which was a full moon day. Many older women (and a couple men) came to the monastery to pray and listen to the head monk preach. Afterwards all the monks ate lunch while the women waited for them to finish before eating lunch together (as is customary at the monastery). The women treated us to hot coffee and tea, snacks and homemade tea leaf salad (the BEST I’ve tasted so far!). It was really nice to be welcomed to join this event, thanks to Thu Thu grandmother.
After we had finished out In-Country Orientation (ICO) we headed downtown to visit with other Cuso volunteers for dinner. It was a fellow volunteer’s last night in the country, and also happened to be my last night in Yangon. After some good food and drinks I headed home to finish packing for Mawlamyine.
Early Saturday morning (6:45) Su Su met me at the condo building I had been staying at for the past two weeks and we headed to the bus station in a taxi. We took a ‘VIP’ bus that was extremely comfortable with extra large seats that almost fully reclined (like flying first class) and personal tv screens with movies and music. After three hours the bus stopped for a half hour lunch, and then another 2 hours got us to Mawlamyine early afternoon.
After checking out my new house and having a (cold) shower, Su Su and Kevin (housemate and Cuso volunteer) and I went out to see some of the sights the city has to offer. We visited ‘Mawlamyine Hills’ with a view point over the city, and a large pagoda. Then we grabbed some dinner down on Strand Boulevard with a cool breeze from the water. After dinner we headed to the newly opened Ocean Super Centre with a large grocery store where I grabbed some essentials for my first week here!
Sunday we ventured across the river to Bilu Island. We hired a taxi driver who took us around the island, stopping at some interesting spots, including a water fall (that we had to hike to), some wood handicraft shops and a loom weaving shop. It was really interesting to see how the traditional longyis are made. The island was so green and lush after some morning downpours!