“Mum: I don’t like Thingyan.
Emily: Why?
Mum: get wet when out! Too long……..”

Thingyan (Burmese New Year, or water festival) is a new experience for us. As clinics are closed we have been able to experience it. Hence I’ve had time to do another blog so soon.

The good:
1. everyone seems quite happy.
2. It’s very hot (38-40 degrees C) and being sprayed with water can be refreshing.
3. If you like dancing and whiskey you’ll be happy.

The not so good:
1. it’s hard to avoid getting wet when you go out. Fun at first. It gets wearing.
2. Taxis charge inflated prices and going to certain places is difficult due to revellers blocking roads. So journeys can take ages and it might be quicker to walk. But then you get wet.
3. Most shops and restaurants are closed. Think Christmas Day lasting five days.

Around the city on the main streets are big stages which have performers (ranging from the latest trendy music stars to more traditional stuff so I’m told) and partygoers buy tickets to go on these stages which can cost up to $40-50 per day. The stages are well equipped with hoses with which to drench passers by (water in some cases being pumped directly from Inya Lake). Other people seem to celebrate by climbing into open trucks and driving around the city, stopping at the stages and impromptu water throwers (everywhere) to actively get soaked. They seem very happy though at times I fear for their safety as the trucks are usually overfilled and going at pace, add a wet surface and you get a high risk of falling out and injury!

I think maybe if I were younger I might enjoy some of these activities, but as I’m old and boring, I don’t. Ned and I like walking round, even when it’s hot, to explore and find places of interest, but during Thingyan this is somewhat hampered by regular drenching by people on the street. They may be equipped with small buckets of water, water pistols, or big hoses.

Although most businesses are closed, around us a few food shops are open so it’s not too bad. We had stocked up with food to be on the safe side. We went to Shwedagon Pagoda yesterday for the second day of the festival. That was quite nice and calm and unlike our last visit in September 2012 wasn’t pouring with rain. Today I accompanied Ned to hospital in the morning and then we walked from there to Happy Cafe & Noodle which we heard was one of the few restaurants open. The walk is about an hour and we got to walk around Inya Lake and experience the true gridlock of revellers in trucks. It was like a carpark in parts! Also there were quite a few people who couldn’t walk straight and it was only 1030…

Anyway, thankfully we have the Game of Thrones DVDs, amongst others, which have kept two old farts entertained when indoors. Plus even doing some reading and teaching planning.

Starting to agree with Mum’s initial thoughts above … 😉






5 thoughts on “Thingyan

  1. Happy Cafe and Noodle is one of my favourite places – have you had the Shan Khao Swè yet?

    Btw, my mum hates Thingyan too because it made her a bit deaf – she got squirted in one ear with dirty water and it got infected!

    • Just seen this. I went round with ear plugs for that very reason!! Love happy noodle. Got friends coming at the weekend from London so going to take them for a bit of shan khao swe ! X

  2. This was refreshing to read. Now, I’m in Chiang Mai for their festival. I had a great time on the first day but that day was enough for me. I don’t consider myself an “old fart” yet I was done after 4 hours. How long are you in Burma? I’m headed there in May and would love to meet you if possible.

  3. Hi Emily and Ned – What an adventure you’re both having!! I think you are very brave and it must be super to live alongside the locals. Keep safe and enjoy the rest of your stay. I’m off to Hong Kong for the whole of June examining so will be nearer to you geographically. Lots love from us both J & J xx

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