What I Have Learned (Episode II)
Trip Start Dec 31, 2004
71Trip End Apr 22, 2005
*In Rangoon grocery stores there are different salesgirls for every brand of cosmetics, shampoo, and various toiletries. Their areas to work are generally as wide as their narrow shoulders and for certain brands there are two women working for the same company. In the small toiletry section there were so many employees it was nearly impossible to turn around and several times I had to walk backwards.
*Rangoon has a glut of employees that far outnumber customers in every consumer business in the city
*While it faded from popularity in the late 1970s in the United States, Hang Ten is still a very popular brand here in Burma.
*I never thought I'd hear Cameron say, " I don't mind the lizard in the room I just don't like it when it crawls by my head and wakes me up chirping at two in the morning."
*I never thought I'd say, "Hey Cameron check out that hot guy over there in the long checkered skirt and the turquoise handbag."
*At teashops plates of food are placed on your table at random and you are charged only for what you eat. When ordering a milky tea or coffee in a teashop you are automatically given watery Chinese tea as a chaser.
*Traditional Bamar cuisine is generally served in tiny dishes and placed on the table "buffet style" but you're not expected to eat everything since you place spoonfuls of the food on your plate. The rest of the food will end up on someone else's plate later
*Bamar food is also served cafeteria style and is generally thickly layered in grease often times a quarter to half an inch thick. You are expected to try to get the food from under the grease but it's nearly impossible. The grease is poured on top of the dishes to keep them from breeding bacteria.
*If I never eat Bamar food again it will be too soon.
*Regional dishes from the Shan state however are exceptionally delicious.
*At the zoo in Rangoon a civets cat is on display. The civets cat for those who've forgotten is responsible for SARS.
*At the same zoo we noticed a monkey in solitary confinement and asked the woman at the information booth about it who told us he was, "extremely dangerous."
*The monkey's cage door was wide open
*Machinegun-armed servicemen guard the gates of the zoo in Rangoon. They also roam behind the trees at the People's Park making for a wonderfully relaxing time in a leafy glade.
* I am convinced that taxi drivers in Rangoon have never once seen a map of their city. When handed one they stare in disbelief and squint and then pull up to several people on the sidewalk and ask directions. If you can pretend to drive you can apparently become a taxi driver.
*If there are any taxis with air-conditioning in Rangoon I've never seen them.
*Myanmar has the worst sidewalks in all of Southeast Asia. Some countries may have comparably dangerous ten foot drops in the middle of their sidewalks but anything worse is simply impossible.
*To get a waiter's attention you make a loud repeated smooching kissy sound.
*Monks are very respected, revered and indeed powerful in Myanmar - with them you are protected
*When a bus is overloaded men pile themselves high on the top and hold on to the luggage rack both on short and long distances. Women however are not permitted to ride on the top of a bus because they are not allowed to be higher than men. This is the one case of discrimination that actually plays in our favour.
*Asians do not it seems like George W. Bush though they do not discriminate against Americans. On a street in Nyuang-Shwe a shopkeeper proposed what Bush would be reincarnated as. "Perhaps a mosquito or a rat?" he asked us. I said a mosquito because it has a shorter life span but he retorted, "No, no maybe a fighting cock!"
*I am convinced that most so-called models used in advertising must somehow have ties to the government because they are by far the least attractive people in the country.
*I could almost see myself living in Asia.
*I met a merchant seaman who told me that he'd traveled the entire world but that when they would dock in America many people would jump ship and swim to shore to become refugees...
*I'd forgotten how lucky I am.