Thursday, April 6, 2017

Travel Diary 1.5

We woke up around 7am next morning. We had our heavy breakfast that day. The flight is at 11.15am. We reached to Singapore around 4pm. We checked in at the hotel located inside the airport. We will be sleeping for just one night in Singapore and to save some travel time, I decided to book at the hotel at the airport. I realised that it was a bit expensive for me but I planned only this one time as luxurious and it can also save some unnecessary trouble like waking up quite early for tomorrow. The flight for tomorrow is at 9.15am. We can wake up at 6am. We had our very late lunch at Thai restaurant in the airport after checking in and putting our luggage inside the room. We headed out to city hall area. I want to exchange some pounds that evening but all exchange shops were closed when we reach to city hall. I decided to exchange at the airport. I showed my parents around the buldings and the sightseeings around city hall area. After we walked for about 45 minutes, my mom's foot was soared due to her unfit shoes. I decided to stopped walking and take a cab to a shoes shop located at Pennisula Plaza which is the meeting points of most Myanmar people who are working and living in Singapore. It has got many Myanmar convenient stores. I was so happy to buy her a pair of shoes. I found one exchange shop openned at the plaza and exchanged some pounds. One good thing about my parents is they hardly complained. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is hard for you to find out what they really want you to do or to say. I asked them what they like to have for dinner and they said they were still quite full and I also felt the same way. We skipped having dinner and just bought a few breads for the breakfast. We returned to Hotel by MRT. The room is a bit small but it was fully equipped for its high price. I got the welcome message with my name on the TV and I felt that was awesome. I wore a bathrobe and slept. But cannot fall asleep very well may be due to bathrobe or my anxiety for my tomorrow longest flight of my life. It will take about 12 hours and 45 minutes from Singapore to London. I have never ride an airplane for this long.

Travel Diary 1.4

We woke up around 7 am and we checked out after breafast and waited for our bus to go back home. Everyone is seemed contented with the trip and also feel happy and fresh to get back to home. We reached back to Yangon around 4pm. I packed for my luggae after I got back home. After dinner, I asked my parents about going to Shwedagon Pagoda before our tirp and they agreed. So me, my parents, my brother, his wife and his daughter went out to Shwedagon at night. It was quite peaceful to go to Pagoda at night. But there are always crowded at Shwedagon even at Night or Day. But if you go to very early morning around 4.30am or very late at night aroumd 8.30pm because it closes at 9pm, the crowd is a bit less. We reached there around 7.45pm. I prayed very hard for my trip and it ends well. It is a bit of pressure on me to bring my parents to abroad. My dad got high blood pressure and my mom got diabetes. They all have to take medicines regularly. But I hope it will be okay. They all seemed very happy and healthy to me on that night and it seemed to me that they are ready and more suitable than me to start the journey anytime soon.

Travel Diary 1.3

We woke up at 7am on March 03. We took showers and had breakfast. We left the hotel around 8am. We ordered the toyota probox to go to the mount Taung Wine. The road was bouncy and filled with red coloured soiled dust. We reached at the base around 9am. We started climbing and one of the drivers from yesterday also climbed together with us. The driver is his cousin and he arranged the car for us today and he never been on top of Taung Wine. It was all inclined stariways all the way to the top. It takes about one hour for us to reach to the top. The view there is nicer than Zwe-Ka-Bin. It is not so high but it has got a spectacular view and a very scary ladder at the top. There is a small pagoda at the top too. Unexpectedly we have met with one of our poly alumni while we were climbing. We just passed by her and her boyfriend. They were also reached to the top later. It was really scary at the top. I did not realise that I will be so scared at the top. May be I have a big travel plan to go to London. I am not sure. But it is not true. It is a true scariness I felt. There is a very nice spot on top to take a photograph. I crawled to that point and I am so scary that I cannot be able to stand up at that point. Actually it is quite safe even though if you stand up. But I cannot help myself and just took a photo while sitting. We stayed at the top for about 45 minutes and climbed down. We reached at the base around 11am. I saw a shop which sells Khaung Yae which is an alcohlic drink made from a sticky rice and got a very nice smell and sweet taste. We stopped at that shop and drunk two bottles of Kaung Yae and bought two bottles to drink at Hotel. We alighted at one of the famous burmese restaurants in Town and ended journey with them. We had a very decent and very full lunch. After lunch, we just headed straight Hotel to take a nap. I actually I can really fall asleep and I kept on thinking about how scary we can get as a human being. I took sociology in University and it teaches us that human beings are social animals. Actually I like studying sociology. But after what I have felt today about scariness, I think a social animal is just a sugar-coated, manipulated word for a scared and unsatisfiable animal. I am thinking about it very deep and how human beings become and how societies were formed by this hypothesis. Around 4.30pm we drunk our Khaung Yae and went out to swim. It was a nice swimming pool and we ordered beer to chill and gossiped about our friends. I think that is all for our tirp to Hpa Ann. Our time is limited and that is all we can do during this strict time frame. We wanted to have a nice massage before going back. The hotel staff said there is one massage nearby and we walked to that one. Unluckily it was a small so called real massage shop opened by a couple and we are three people and we want something like a massage and spa found in Bali or Phuket and that one is not like that. I do not think Hpa Ann got anything like in Bali. It is not that we like to have a happy ending or what. We just like to have a good message with a good atmosphere. Sometimes it is hard to mention what you really want. We want massage but we are certain that it is defintely not like what we can get with a small massage shop opend by a couple. We gave up with massage and decided to have our dinner at nearby chinese restaurant. It was an average meal.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Travel diary 1.1

I reached ard 11.00 am to Yangon. My Dad, my brother,  his wife and my above-one-year-old neice came to get me at the airport. I had lunch at my house and I called my poly friends to confirm time and place to meet up for my Hpa Ann trip. After that I went out to visit one of my childhood friends' house. We went out again from his house to drink beer. I was feeling unsatisfied to see him doing anything for living. Last time he worked as a waiter in Malaysia. After came back from Malaysia, he does not have any full time job. His life is kind of suck too so I do not want to put a blame on him apart from feeling not very satisfied. His dad was an alcoholic and passed away for like 5 years ago. He got 2 big brothers and one of them also passed away because of alcohol. He got 2 younger brothers also and one of them is quite good in academic and now attending at a local university and the other is doing nothing like him I guess. While we were drinking beer, we talked about doing a small business like opening a tea shop or internet cafe in our district. Actually I am quite interested to open a shop for my brother but he is not really into it. My friend was talking about how he can find people to hire and a place to rent for the shop. He is seemed quite eager but there are lots to think about before I cab finally decide to do it or not. So I just keep it quiet and ask him not to do anything concerned with it and we see how after I come back from London. I reached ard 6.30 pm at the highway bus station and collected the bus tickets to Hpa Ann and one of my friends reached there soon afterwards. We went to nearby Indian Bariyani shop and I ordered Bariyani and he had yogurt. Mine was not tasty and I could eat finished half portion only. I asked about what he has been doing in Myanmar. Last time he studied in poly and worked in Singapore and stayed in my house. It has been about two years that he left Singapore to work in Myanmar. I have learned that he quitted his last job which was at one of the famous banks in Myanmar after he suspected that his supervisor was involving in a big fraud. He was there for only six months. That fraud was emerged as a very high profile case and almost all media in Myanmar highlighted about its news. Luckily he was not involved. But he is seemed to be quite happy with his current NGO. They are selling some agricultural equipments to farmers and giving advices and doing micro finance. The famous bank that he worked at also got micro finance division and it got backed by foreign aid funds to promote and enhance the agricultural industry in Myanmar. But I felt like they are not doing their purpose and instead they got teamed up with local rich people and playing the price of rice to gain more profits or more advantage over farmers. It is just my feeling and I do not know exactly about the nature of their job. But I can see that farmers lives are definitely not improved much compared to the last decade. The other poly friend arrived after we ate and our bus left ard 8.45pm. It stopped at Kyite Hto town which is the capital town of Mon state ard 1 am. I ate some Myanmar glass noodle chicken soup and it was not good either. One of my friends suggested beer and we ordered two bottles and shared. The beer taste was awful and kind of sour. But that was okay. We all drunk finished and I noticed that only few people were drinking beer at this hour. When I got back on the bus, I started the conversation with a girl who sat next to me. It turned out that she was born in Hpa Ann and she stay all her life in Hpa Ann. She said we will be reaching ard 3.30am and our hotel is on the outskirts of the town and we need to alight before the bus goes into town. I asked about climbing Mount Zwe-Ka-Pin and she took about three hours to reach at the peak. Actually I like to start climbing ard 4am and try to catch the sunrise.  I talked about it and she said people normally start 7.00am. Some more I realised that my friends were working just before starting the trip and we all did not have enough sleep. So we decided to sleep for a few hours.  We did reached our hotel ard 3.30am. Unluckily it was booked only for 2nd & 3rd March and check in time is 12 noon. We talked through the boy at the reception and did early check in by paying extra money which is half of one night charge. We slept for about two hours, took shower and had breakfast at the hotel. We left the hotel to start climbing ard 8.15am. We do not know where its base and asked one of the waiters and he said it is only 30 minutes walk from the hotel. We walked about 15 minutes and asked one of the local women found on the road for direction and she said it was still far away. We decided to take a bike taxi to the base. Me and one friend took one bike and the other took another. It was a bit uncomfortable to ride a bike with three people including the driver. I do not mind though. We still have to ride bikes for about another 15 minutes to reach at the base. We talked about caves that we like to visit after hiking and arranged the two bike drivers to come back and pick us up at the base. One of them gave his no to call after we have reached back to the base and ready to head out to caves. We started hiking right after. We talked along the way and paused for many short breaks. Around 12.30 we reached at the top. It was amazing at the top. The name of the mount got Zwe which means effort to accomplish something in Myanmar. People said some sayings like, if you do have Zwe, there is nothing that you cannot accomplish in this world. We all felt awesome and hungry. There is a golden pagoda, two or three buildings and a small vegetarian restaurant inside one of the buildings. We had our lunch there and it was a good lunch. If we bring sleeping bags, we can sleep at night after enjoy sunset and wake up to catch the sunrise in the next day morning also. I bet it would be awesome. But we did not have much time and there is so much to see in Hpa Ann. But I remind myself always to enjoy at one place instead of having been to all places by the rush. The idea was all agreed by three of us. We take our time and enjoy going as many as we can during our stay here. We started downhills ard 1.45pm. It was pretty hot. One of my friends' slippers got the strap loosened when we were almost reaching at the base. Luckily we can buy new slippers at one of the shops at the base. I called the driver to come and pick us up. We drunk sugarcane juice and cooled down the heat while waiting for the bikes. We had to wait about 30 minutes. There are five famous limestone caves in the area and Saddan cave is the most popular one and we decided to go to that one first. It takes about 45 minutes and by the time we reached there was around 4.30pm already. It is quite a big cave and we walked until the other end where there is another opening and connected with small lakes which were formed by farmers using dam water for irrigation of paddy fields. There are many small mountains and lakes and paddy fields in the surroundings. We took a small rowing boat to reach back to the entrance, crossing through green and golden paddy fields in a very small and narrow irrigation canal. We did not have time for visiting one more cave so we decided to go to one of the good restaurants in town. They were quite hungry and advised us to take vegetarian dinner at Kyaut Ka Lat Pagoda which is a pagoda founded on a very small and low rock mountain which in turn located facing the mount Zwe-Ka-Pin. We decided to see and shop a little around there while they are having dinner. We liked to eat some meat with beer and we were not that hungry yet. That was okay for us. There was not much to see but the view of mount Zwe-Ka-Pin made us all realised and amazed by how much we have climbed in the morning. The sun was soon to be setting while we were riding back into town. But i do not see any good viewpoint since small mountains are blocking here and there. I bet if we see at the top of mount Zwe-Ka-Pin, we will have a clear viewing of the sunset. They dropped us at one of the TripAdvisor famous Chinese restaurants. It was very delicious and beer was also good. After dinner, We bought return bus tickets to Yangon nearby the clock tower which is almost at the centre of the town. We took a motor tricycles back to hotel and the driver showed us the general hospital and the playground along the way by taking city main roads. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Travel Diary 1.0

I woke up at 2.30 am and I tried to fall asleep again. Sadly I could not and I just stayed awake while lying down and rolling on my bed. At 4.30 I stopped trying to fall asleep and keep my bed neatly and leaned towards the wall and closed the windows. I got plenty of time to check my things for the last time. I took a slow nice warm bath and after all dressed up, I offered drinking water to Buddha and worshipped. I prayed from my heart that my long break will end with peace and everything go smoothly along the way. I felt looking smart because I wore a formal long sleeved white shirt and black pants. I put on the red hoodie with zip opened on top of the white shirt. I also put on a pair of shoes. I prefer slippers than shoes. But shoes take a big space to pack inside my bag. It was raining and I noticed that most of the time I am leaving Singapore, it rains which is not quite strange because there are rains in Singapore all year round. The feeling of leaving Singapore with rains also gives me some chills and kind of nostalgic feeling. The rain was not pouring and just lightly spraying. I decided not to use the umbrella inside my bag. I just covered my head with the hood. I walked towards Chinese Garden Mrt like there was no raining at all. 
I also had a breakfast at KFC after checking in. This is the first time that I got a seat at emergency exit. I like those seats because you have a big leg-room. I paid attention on how to operate in case of emergency. It's quite simple. My seat is just beside the emergency exit. A couple from US sit beside me. We do have a chat aside from saying hi when i first seated. I put on my headsets and listening to Adele when the flight reached high above the ground. 
The couple looks cool. I kind of feel touched when I saw, the husband holds his wife hand when the flight went into a big cloud and had a bit of turbulence. The husband was kind of scared i guess but I am not sure because the wife sat beside me and the husband was on another side of the wife, so the wife was literally blocking the husband face. What I saw was the man was holding one hand of the lady and the lady fingers were kind of rubbing his hand gently. The lady filled in the arrival card first and the man followed after she finished. They took out two cup cakes and enjoyed eating it. After eat,  the lady took out her laptop and gave some comments in some kind of an academic report with graphs. Oh yeah,  she is a professor and she is just doing her work on a plane. I got a peak at her arrival card. She was seemed like really into it and a bit look tense. I really like to see people with passion and it is quite motivating to see those passionate people working with concentration. Even for a passionate waiter, I enjoy seeing him waiting tables with much of his energy and joy. May be I enjoy seeing it because this is the thing I lack in my life. But those people are quite rare to find also. The husband was playing a mobile game with passion too. I was also passionately updating my diary. Hahaha... 
Yesterday I went out for drinks with my friends at a bar on top of National gallery, Singapore which has a very nice view directly facing Marina Bay Sands Hotel and diagonally facing other tall crowded buildings in City Hall area. I can hear the bell rang from a clock tower in Victoria Hall.  The music there was nice, slow and sooth. I did not happen to tell about my plan with my friends. I am tired of explaining questions sometimes. I am very glad that l have good friends all around me. My friend who offered to borrow his camera did brought his camera on that day and asked for the last time whether I am sure about not taking his camera and shoot great photos. I said yes I am sure because I will be flying for a lot places and I do not wish to take any more burden than I already have. Actually I do realise that it's wrong to feel that way but I cannot help it.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Travel diary 0.3, 28th Feb 2017

When the days of my long break are getting nearer, I am thinking a lot and there are so much things on my mind. Yesterday morning, I was imagining myself and giving a thanks speech at the end of the graduation ceremony. I was practicing for it. What I should include and how I should say it. But my voice was lacking the strength and energy and it did not sound like it was come out in my imagination. At first,  I wanted to add it here but I dropped my phone while writing this diary on my tablet and I paused for a while and changed my mind about adding it. There is some more reasons why I want to take my two cameras instead of my friend's one is because I do not like to see some of the things are not utilised and left to be wasted although  they are in good  conditions. For this trip,  I needed a lot clothings to be bought, especially jackets and coats.  I searched around my house because I am sure that my friends who had moved out from the house will definitely left their unwanted clothings. I found many and I chose the suitable ones for me and my parents. We do not need to buy for jackets and coats. I have already sent back those to Myanmar when I returned  back last year for one of my friends' wedding. One more friend will have a wedding dinner on 18th March and I am going to attend it. I have taken the red coloured Nike shoes from one of my friends, the last person to move out from my house. My current walking shoes is totally worn out and the soles are detached halfway and dangling from the front every time when I lift up the foot. Still I am thinking to glue it back. But I asked my friend who offered to borrow his camera and I declined, who is also the owner of the Nike shoes, to allow me to use it because I am sad to see it on the shelf with dusts without any owner to take care. He said it's a bit weary already and no problem. I just added about clothes and shoes here because I want you to know how I feel about material things.
Although I asked my poly friend to plan for Pha An trip, he has not mentioned about his trip plan except we, three will be meeting up at 7pm in front of Mandalarmin gate in Aung Mingalar Express Highway Bus Station which is the main station that you have to go to take express cars to almost everywhere in Myanmar from Yangon. Plus 66000 kyats(US$50) per night for hotel and 8000 kyats(US$8) for bus fares. So I looked up on the map and also asked my friend, who is living in our house and who recently visited Pha An. There are five famous caves in the area and two famous mountains to climb. But I wish to stop about Pha An here and tell more about it after I have visited the place. 

Travel Diary 0.2, 28th Feb 2017

I said I was going to research what things to do and eat in Edinburgh and London. I have done enough during these days. Sometimes I got overwhelmed by those things that I found out. I do not want to mention details about those. Lately I realised that I am planning a lot details which I am not sure those will pan out on the actual trip or not. I decided to stop planning and researching. I have done enough of it.
I got oyster cards that I ordered to be shipped to Singapore. My poly friend has already decided which place to go from 1st of March until 4th. We will go to Pha An, the capital of Karen state in Myanmar. He has bought the express tickets for three, me, him and another poly friend and booked a hotel for two nights. We are leaving Yangon at 8:30pm on 1st of March and we will be reaching Pha An next day early morning. The journey from Yangon to Pha An usually takes about 7 to 8 hours. I do not want to plan for this trip and I will follow my friend's plan. He used to travel quite often, so there won't be any problem with his plan.
One of my friends also offered to borrow his camera which is quite good and expensive one. At first, I like to accept and said yes. But when I think about taking his camera, I feel a bit of burden and the trip is quite a long one and anything can happen. I said to him that I rather take my two cameras which is not high end but just normal point and shoot ones. One I got from Carrousel which is something like eBay in Singapore with 50 dollars. Another one is someone's who lived in our house. Yes, our house is a home for many students from Myanmar. When a friend moves from the house, a few of his belongings are always abandoned or be forgotten inside the house. I cannot recall whose camera is it. Those two cameras will serve their purpose.
I also applied leave for 28th Feb since I haven't packed and I do not like to start my long break with a hurry. Me and my friends have a date on that evening. It has been so long that I am not going out for drinks at a bar. I want to say that my long break starts officially on that night. Some of my friends do not know that I am going to become a monk a year after this trip. I think I will tell them when we are going out for drinks tonight. I do not worry that they will be surprised because this is not the first time that I told them about how I am going to become a monk.
Yeah, it's true when I started to realise that I changed, I resigned from a very good company and went back to Myanmar. That time also, I let all my friends know about it. We did all gathered at my house and drank alcohol and tried to talk about it. They asked so many questions why,why,why? I tried to answer and give reasons to myself and their questions as I can. They cannot understand me and I am not trying to make them understand. At that time, my reason was simple. I was 23 years old and when they ask about whether I am sure about my decision. I told them that how can you be sure that you have not actually tried being a monk. So I simply wanted to become a monk for a year or two and decide whether I can stay as a monk for my whole life or not. If I do not enjoy the monkhood after a year or two, I can always request back to being a normal person. But if I did not do it at that time, I may always wonder what if, for my whole life. The plan did not go well because I did not let my family know about it. I did became a monk for 3 days because my mom planned dad, me and my elder brother to become monks for a few days according to Myanmar traditions. One of the common goals of all Myanmar mothers is to make their sons a monk for a few days at least once in her life. Monkhood is very rare and it's a special opportunity to become a mother of a monk even just for a short period in religious point of view. I went back to Myanmar and followed as she planned. My family thought that I just took leave to come back and become a monk for a few days. To become a monk, you need the parents permission and wife's permission if you are married. Otherwise, you cannot attain the monkhood.
My plan is to stay as a monk for a year but I do not want to manipulate them into saying yes for the permission to become a monk. That three day of monkhood was quite terrible experience for me because I was keeping a big secret. So I decided to end it and let them know about my plan to become a monk for a year or two or may be permanent. The reaction from them was also as terrible as I expected. They are not religious people and they totally disagreed with my plan and they did not let me do do it. We fought each other by shooting sharp and loud words into each other's ears. We mean me against three of my family members. There is nobody on my side. I said very hurtful words to them and I really meant it at that time. I said they are not fair to me that they were very proud of me when I was doing according to what they wanted and they should be the same when I was about to do what I want. Somemore my wish is not a bad wish and it is a very good and very simple wish. Now while I am writing this diary, I am not even sure about how I had written of having a normal childhood in the first page. I the main character in the outsider,a famous noble is perfectly normal to me and that makes me realise being normal is not that simple. Am I not normal or am I being an outsider too in this society? I do not care to answer those questions.