Sunday, June 17, 2018

Discovering Northwest Myanmar 16: Kataung to Mandalay

I call them "Burmese Doughnuts".
They've got another name, but
essentially, it's fried bread.
The three-week adventure was nearing it's end. I was ahead of schedule, but after visiting all the sights available in the ancient city of Kataung, it was time to move on. I continued my way south along the Irrawaddy River back to where it all started, Mandalay.

From the 4-faces pagoda.An ancient pagoda inside a newer one!
I was also under budget. I had set aside a certain amount of money I was thinking to spend on this vacation, and when I got back to Mandalay, I was well under that. So, time to splurge a bit.

Once again Zach, my patron, the guy I'd rented the motorbike from in the first place - - was helpful in suggesting accommodations there in Mandalay that were somewhat luxurious, but without breaking the bank. The Apex Hotel. Nice place.

It's taking me some time to finish up this adventure which ended 7 weeks ago now.As i mentioned in the last blog, a new love interest.
We're still together.  Sure, she's 20 years young than me. We're from  different cultures. But she spent some time living in America and we get along great.

Enjoy the video. 


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Discovering Northwest Myanmar 15 - Katha to Takaung

Crossing the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River once again

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve last posted here on my blog, and so much has happened in that time!

I’ve got a new love interest. More on that later depending on how it goes.

I had to spend a week in Bangkok when I’d meant to spend a night.  I’d gone for my regular visa run thing, and whllst in Bangkok I managed to lose my passport. Again, more on that story later. 

Back in Yangon. I’m very excited in that today, my company held a press conference announcing a new partnership with the University of Wollongong College (Australia) wherein our campus will be the site of their 1st trimester foundation course; it’s a type of college before college thing. 

UoW is one of the top universities in the world, and this foundation program is a way in for Myanmar students who might not be qualified to enter otherwise. Their first experience in tertiary education will come through Edulink, my company. They’ll be learning mathematics, environmental studies, academic English and sociology, the last being my area speciality and teaching subject.

Yes, I’m going to teach sociology. 

I remember vividly 35 years ago, at the family dinner table, when I said I was interested in studying sociology, how strongly my parents objected to this idea. What could one do with a sociology degree? Completely pointless! I think the words “no child of ours is going to study sociology  were actually uttered. 

They were much more mooted when I actually got to university and completed my BA in sociology with an emphasis on comparative cultures. I also got, while studying in Indonesia, a specialized minor in Southwest Pacific studies which combined courses in Indonesian and Australian topics.Who would have thunk these topics would actually be useful someday? 

Water fun in the Ayeyarwaddy
It’s taken 25 years, and not following any particular plan, but these qualifications (what’re  ya gonna do with a degree in sociology?) are finally paying off. Starting in August, I’m going to be a lecturer in Edulink’s collaboration with the University of Wollongong. I’ll be teaching a course in sociology. It’s going to be what in America would be considered to be a “community college” course, so my lack of an advanced degree isn’t an impediment. I can’t really call myself
“Professor Joko”, but Lecturer Joko? Well, career wise, I feel a bit of pride today.

In the video, we continue our journey south towards Mandalay, to the old town of Takaung, where my hotelier was an 11-year-old boy.

Yeah, I dunno where all the adults had gone, but this kid was my sole interaction with the guesthouse there in Kataung. And it wasn't because he was the only one who spoke English because he didn't. 

When you're paying 5000 Kyats ($4) for the night, ya can't complain. 


I thought I was going to retire there. I was the senior staff member. I'd been there longer than anyone. It. Is. Not. Fair.  But on the ...