21 April 2015
We've been busy, but there's a lot to catch up - on Saturday, we went to lunch with the monks at our hotel in Nyuang Thwe, near Inle Lake. Well, except we were too late to actually see the ceremony, and arrived right around the time the monks were leaving. Turns out Buddhist monks in Myanmar eat mostly one meal a day, and don't eat after 12 noon. Plus the family who owns the hotel said they sit on a carpet while the monks eat. So we'd have been sitting there, not understanding a word, and waiting. Just as well that we arrived a little late.
However, Richard and I gave the monks a monetary donation - monks take in homeless and orphaned children, or impoverished parents bring their children to the monastery so the children can get an education. It seemed like a worthwhile cause to which to make a donation.
This was our fourth new year for this year - we celebrated the Jewish new year while we were in Japan in the fall; the Gregorian new year while in Vietnam; the Chinese new year in Hong Kong; and now the Buddhist new year in Myanmar. Pretty exciting, and a first for us!
So we had a wonderful meal with the family at the hotel - it's their practice to have a family meal and invite the guests who are at the hotel, every week or so. Because this was the new year meal and a special meal with the monks, this was a sumptuous lunch - we had a spicy Thai-style soup, stir-fried chicken and vegs, roast pork, fish in a spicy sauce, more vegs, and salad. Dessert (which I couldn't finish) was a fruit cocktail that included lychee fruit, in a milk kind of sauce. It was all very good, and a wonderful way to meet the entire family as well as celebrate the new year.
And then, the following day, we flew to Yangon, the Myanmarian name for Rangoon. It's super hot here, days hitting 106 or so F (43 C??) - and Yangon is the big city. This is the first town/city in Myanmar where we've seen street lights at night, so we know this is a big city. Our hotel is downtown, where streets are full of stores, street vendors, little food shops that open in the evening all along the sidewalks, and of course the beautiful golden temples.
We've made arrangements to go to the beach next week, and it took a few days to do that - now we can explore Yangon for the next four days, then spend time at the beach, and then we'll have a few more days back in Yangon. And then our four weeks are up!
That's the quick update, and I'll blog again when I get more photos. We've spent several hours in travel agencies, trying to figure out transportation to the beach and all that - not too exciting!