I spent yesterday with two fellow teachers. I woke up with a cold but that didn't deter me from cleaning my apartment. The advantage of living in a studio apartment is that it's pretty fast and easy to mop the floors and clean.
The other teachers and I hopped into the air conditioned taxi at 9:45 a.m. Our first stop was a tea shop for breakfast. We each had a meal and two of us got take out and the total bill was $3.60.
We spent the next several hours shopping. First was for lamps. The brand new teacher was a bit surprised that she had the choice of only two floor lamps, but I assured her that they were the only floor lamps in Mandalay. They used to have three but I bought one.
Next, we moved on to shop for chairs. I had two chairs I really liked. But, I sold them to the new teacher with the plan of replacing one with a similar chair along with a rocking chair. We stopped at the first store where I quickly purchased and arranged immediate delivery of a chair. Then we headed a few blocks away to buy the rocking chair. That's when the fly entered the ointment. I'd checked out the rockers the week before and was very excited. They weren't exactly what I'd dreamed of in terms of looks but were comfortable. And, for only $20, they were perfect. I sat, I rocked, I was ready to buy. But then I discovered that there had been a miscommunication. They weren't $20 but rather $120! During all of the shopping, our driver served as negotiator and interpreter.
I now owned a single chair rather than the matching pair I'd had previously. After shopping for a few vegetables at the nearby market, we headed back to the store where I'd bought the single chair. Bummer, they didn't have another chair to match the one I'd bought. The new teacher offered to return my original chairs and to take the chair I'd just bought but I told her a deal was a deal.
We went on to a grocery store where we stocked up on basics plus bread at the adjoining bakery. I bought flour, sugar and other baking essentials along with a king size flat sheet to make a reading fort for my kids at school for less than $25. Our driver conveniently hovered so he could carry our purchases to the car.
Next we went next door to the food court to but food for take away. I went for a couple of pieces of rotisserie chicken. It was expensive, at $1.50, by Myanmar standards.
We drove a couple of miles up the road to find another shop where they sold rattan furniture, hoping to find a foot stool for the new teacher. We found the store, which didn't have the foot stool but had chairs exactly like the one I'd purchased earlier. I was able to have matched set again, at a lower price and it would be delivered today. The new teacher was disappointed they didn't have a foot stool but the other teacher said she had one that she didn't really use and was happy to sell. We were all happy.
Our last destination was my favorite - Style Star - the beauty salon/spa. We spent two hours being shampooed, blow dried, massaged and pampered. All for $6.50. They assigned my favorite employee to me and she was amazing. I gave her a 500K ($.50) tip. Tipping is not usual here. Last week, she tried to give it back. This week she was happy to accept it. She massaged me from head to foot for two hours and thought a 50 cent tip was huge.
On our short drive back to the school we talked about living in Mandalay. The new teacher expected this to be a "hardship post". It is not. We have all the creature comforts we want. There are luxuries we couldn't afford in the United States, like two hour massages. And, the people are so friendly and helpful. Our taxi driver not only helped with driving, shopping and ordering in the restaurant, he also helped carry our purchases up four flights of stairs. One of the new school security guards also helped carry my new chairs upstairs.
It was another great day in Mandalay. Now I hope I can get rid of this cold before I greet the kids on Monday.