Tuesday, January 29, 2019

#2-Sghts in the streets of Yangon, Myanmar

This is the second post about our Southeast Asia trip, if you want to know why we went where we did, start at the beginning: #1 -Why 

You just don't want to remember some parts of a trip. The flight   from San Diego to Yangon was long but uneventful. We left home on the morning of December 25th and arrived in Yangon after 10 PM, on the 26th. Intellectually I knew we had crossed the dateline, but it still felt strange to think that it was today in Yangon but  yesterday in San Diego. 

Our son Joko had rented a car and was our driver. On the 27th, after we had a good night's rest, he picked us up and we went for a drive around some of the older parts of the city. 

One of the first things that I noticed were all of the wires.

This was not the heaviest concentration of wires on one pole that we saw, just one that I caught while we were stopped in traffic. This was typical of the power line structure.

In many places large bundles of wires sagged against the walls. No one uses land-line phones, so perhaps many of them are dead.

I can't imagine how this guy knows which wire is which, or which are "hot." Craig said they don't repair the wires, they just string new ones! 
I think I see he has some sort of safety belt attached to the pole, but

 is he barefoot, or wearing some sort of rubber sandal? 

Hundreds of wires sagged across this side street.

Vendors line both sides of the streets, selling everything imaginable. Behind them there are also small shops selling, among othere things, clothes, pharmaceuticals, electronics, plants, flowers, vegetables, rice, used and new auto parts, plastic furniture, rugs, and blankets.  I have other pictures of street sellers to share, but for now this is just a quick look.

Food of all kinds is also sold on the streets.

This lady was selling fresh fish from pans on the ground. No refrigeration or ice. Mixed among the vendors were many people cooking and selling things to eat on the go. 

We did not sample any of the street foods because I was a bit paranoid about the warnings from the CDC. My theory is that the people build up an immunity to some of the things that sicken a visitor. After a week or so, I did eat a few fresh fruits and vegetables at a hotel restaurant, without serious consequences. 

I may be wrong, but it is my impression that millions of people in the city areas buy their food daily and either eat their meals at little stalls on the street, or cook it quickly in their apartments. Joko has told us that power outages in the hot or rainy months are frequent and many people do not have refrigerators. 

image from the web
Two other things I saw a lot of as we drove around, were plastic waste and street dogs.

Wherever there was a space between buildings, or the edge of a street that was not occupied by a vendor, there were piles of plastic waste. I also noticed this when we drove through the countryside later in the week. I can't help remembering our own country's movement to clean up the litter along our roads in the past. Perhaps someday Myanmar will do the same. They do seem to collect and recycle plastic water bottles, but that is because they get paid for them. 

image from web
The dogs are every where. But they don't belong to anyone. 

They are not pampered house pets and have a life of their own on the streets.

They don't seem to beg, but I saw people feeding them scraps. 

Since most Burmese are Buddhists they let the dogs be.  After all, they may come back as one in their next life if they are not good.

The dogs are all about the same size, but vary in color,  and are generally short-haired with a curling tail. 

Such a different, vibrant place. This was just our first few hours.

Much more to come!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

#1 Why did we go to Myanmar and Vietnam

I decided to wait until we returned from our trip to Myanmar, Vietnam and Hawaii before I blogged about it. 

I knew I couldn’t do the trip justice if I tried to post day-by-day as we went along. I will be putting up posts about it every few days for a while. I will try to keep each post reasonably short so as to not burn out on writing them (nor burn you out reading them 🙂).  Hopefully this also encourages you readers to come back for more. I hope you will enjoy following along and sharing the adventure.

Of all the places in the world to travel to for a winter vacation, why did we choose these three? Craig and I love living full time in an RV, because although we enjoy travel to new places, we don't enjoy 
  • flying on airplanes, 
  • living out of suitcases, 
  • eating every meal in restaurants, or 
  • checking into and out of hotels. 
So why did we leave our Alfa parked while we went off to Southeast Asia?

Because we wanted to visit our son, Gil, who has been teaching English in Yangon, Myanmar for the last five years. 

My son the poster boy

Merikay and Gil in front of another poster advertising the school he works for.

During our first few years of full time RVing, we didn’t want to put the Alfa in storage and had no real alternative as to where to park her. When we found Jojoba Hills, we knew it was a perfect place to leave her for a month or more without worry. 

I wanted to add Thailand to our itinerary, but Gil has been there many times and suggested we all go to Vietnam for a week instead. So we did.

One of the great things about being retired is that you don't have to go home to go back to work. If you want to travel for one week, two weeks, a month, it doesn’t matter. You have no time clock to punch, and the only limit is your own endurance and budget. Both of which we stretched to the limit on this trip!

Then, when thinking about the return flights to San Diego from Hanoi, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to visit the last state on our RV travel map - Hawaii.

Many RVers have these maps and have different personal rules for earning a state sticker. Some say they have to actually camp in a state; we may have counted one or two that we have just driven through. Hawaii is a special case. The Alfa doesn’t float, so she had to stay at Jojoba Hills, but we count this trip as our 50th state anyway. 

Joko and Craig
Our son was named Gil after my father. When he was in high school, he went to Indonesia as an exchange student. His Indonesian family and friends had a hard time with the "G" in his name, so he took "Joko" as his nickname.

He now goes by Joko MacKenna to his friends in Southeast Asia, and as I continue this story I will call him by that name too. 

Coming Soon:
# 2-Sights in the streets of Yangon, Myanmar 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Myanmar, Vietnam, and Hawaii

We are currently on a 30 day trip to Myanmar, Vietnam, and Hawaii.  

The Alfa had to stay home at Jojoba Hills because it does not float!

I will blog about the trip in February.