Saturday, November 2, 2013

Time Flies

Typical Myanmar holiday food - it was a gift from the mom of one of my kids.  Tea leaves (they eat them as salad here), fermented shrimp, peanuts, ginger, garlic  and other goodies.  Tasty.

My birthday treat - local bread, like naan, cheese and green chiles I brought back from Bangkok.  Very tasty.

It seems like just last week that I was writing about my experience in a Bangkok hospital.  But it’s been weeks.  I sound like my grandmother when I describe how time is just flying by.

When I got home, I was still puny and had to keep my leg elevated as much as possible.  Luckily for me I have two amazing assistant teachers who volunteered to be my legs in the classroom.  But if you’ve ever taught, been in a classroom or just know a young child, you’ll know that it’s virtually impossible and very frustrating to teach 28 first graders from a chair.

Since my return, the leg is much better but did require two additional doctors visits.  The first was to a clinic which had patients waiting (patiently) in the street, yard and foyer of the small house which is used as a clinic.  I was given VIP status and immediately given a chair while everyone smiled and nodded.  I smiled and nodded back and waited.  After ten minutes I was with the doctor and his assistant, both of whom spoke English.  Ten minutes later I was out the door with three prescriptions, all for a whopping $11 USD. 

The next time, the clinic was closed so I was taken to the Palace Hospital.  That would have been very intimidating but the school driver snagged someone and explained (apparently) what an important person I was, although I was too stupid to speak Myanmar.  I don’t think he actually said that last part but should have.

I was again given VIP status and after 25 minutes was back in a taxi with 3 more prescriptions.  The price was higher this time, $16, but the doctor spoke better English and also seemed to really get what was happening with the leg and changed the diagnosis from just an infection to something a bit longer lasting.  Seems the Dr. in Bangkok was correct in his initial diagnosis that it was more than just an infection.

The point of all this medical talk is that the unexpected time off work put me behind and I’ve been working overtime to catch up.  Today, November 3, 2013 is my first full day off in 3 weeks.  Which is another reason that so far my sightseeing has been mostly limited to the grocery stores.  There are three of them now, by the way.  Ocean, in Diamond Plaza, the only mall in Mandalay; CitiMart which is in what used to be a mall until all the other stores moved to Diamond Plaza; and a new store whose name I can never remember.  All the stores carry pretty much the same products (although the new store carries only some processed cheese slices rather than the real stuff) and have similar prices.

I have a week off at the end of November for a visa run.  I have to leave the country every 70 days so I can reenter Myanmar to get a new visa.  I opted to just stay in Bangkok.  The school pays for my flight there and since I was sick during the last trip I didn’t get to do the sightseeing and shopping that I wanted.  And, I figured I’d use the over two weeks off over Christmas to visit one or two new countries.

But I couldn’t decide where to go.  Not that there’s a lack of places I can’t wait to visit, but it’s the high season.  That means both crowds and prices are at their peak.  After thinking of how little I’ve seen of Mandalay let alone the rest of Myanmar along with the desire to protect my pocket book and avoid crowds, I’ve decided to stay home for the holidays.

I will likely be the only teacher in the apartment building and I assume the only staff working will be security guards.  That isn’t all bad.  Plus with the money I’ll save on airfare and hotels I’ll be able to take taxis around town and really have time to explore.  I do plan to take the 19 minute (!) flight to Bagan which is second only to Angkor Wat in Cambodia for tourists wanting to visit amazing religious sites in Asia.  I’ve heard nothing but great things about Bagan and look forward to a few days there.

I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t have fun here and only slave away at school.  I do have downtime and enjoy it, but between illness and busyness, which makes me tired, I’ve opted to just hang out mostly on the school compound.

Read on in the next post for what the other teachers and I do for entertainment.

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