Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mawlamyine - Make a me sexy!

I kicked off the day by yakking out of a bus window. The Finnish guy
next to me handed me a tissue and a smiley Burmese woman gave me a
baggy. Burmese people. Nothing seems to bewilder them. Whether I'm
walking down an alley, or waiting in a bus station or poking through a
delta village, I get smiles that seem to say "Ah, hello tourist,
welcome." Or in this instance, "Ah, here you are yakking out the bus
window, have a baggy, welcome." Yesterday a 4-year-old stuck out his
hand and made me shake it.

My stomach hurt the whole two-hour bus ride. No AC. Just the dusty,
fishy, sewage-y, garbage burny open air wafting on through. I can't
feel too bad for myself. My Finnish friend was laid out for several
days with food poisoning in Bagan and previous to that had Dengue
fever in Thailand.

Upon arriving, I picked a mototaxi driver who understood zero licks of
English. A lady at the bus station told him where I wanted to go. He
grinned and waved at lots of people on the way and seemed to be
saying, "Make a me sexy!" But it could've been something else. I

When we arrived at the Burma-Siam Railway memorial (also called the
Death Railway for all of the Allied troops and Asian workers who died
building it), I hopped off and sexily yakked again - so long, 7-Up! My
taxi and a guy who was repainting the train looked concerned. "I'm
okay, I'm okay."

The memorial is just the engine car and a few crumbling, statues of
laborers missing limbs.

Afterward we rode to the POW cemetery, which was mostly British,
Australian and Dutch graves, Americans (with some 350 graves) were the
smallest group represented. I wish I were more of a Pacific Theater
history buff because I've seen so many memorials across Asia now - the
Flying Tiger museum in Chongqing, an allied POW camp on Taiwan, an
internment/POW museum in Singapore and now here in Burma.

After that I bused back to Mawlamyine, snacked on some Pepto Bismol
and spent the afternoon reading Little Daughter by Zoya Phan, a memoir
by a Karen woman who became a refugee in Thailand when the Burmese
military destroyed her village. Mr Tony, who is Karen and works at my
guesthouse, lent it to me last night and insisted. I'm glad, I've read
articles here and there, but the book is more comprehensively
informative on the recent history.

Now I think I will try to eat crackers for dinner and return to
reading in my closet-sized room. Hopefully the power wont go out, but
workers have been futzing with the generator in the lobby all
afternoon. A flashlight is necessary to walk around outside at night.
Lots of places here run partially on generators. This morning I
watched a woman leave in a huff, saying something about the power
going off and on. (Relevant fact: The room rate is $7 a night.) It's
interesting to observe the entitlement of other travelers: Back in
Yangon I saw a guy walk into my guesthouse and ask if they'd hold a
dorm bed while he went to look for something better. To their credit,
they said no.

I was planning on leaving tomorrow, but I'll give it another day to rest.

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