We had our first visitors on Sunday – Miche, Cathy and Sham. Of course it had to completely pour with rain that evening, meaning we couldn’t get a taxi (everything grinds to a halt in heavy rain it seems) to where we intended to go for dinner. Actually it turned out fine as we went to a local place and had a delicious meal with fish, prawns and meat.
We took Monday off and again it rained heavily in the morning. We took our mates downtown and it eased up slightly as we walked around Sule pagoda and around the streets and old buildings. We managed to walk to Botataung pagoda and go inside without getting too wet. The rain continued intermittently but we stopped off at Lucky Seven for some snacks and it was just really nice to catch up and show them around. We ended the day in Chinatown where it continued to rain but we still managed to sit outside and enjoy the atmosphere and a delicious dinner, plus try fried crickets for the first time. The following day, they did Shwedagon and Bogyoke market while we went to work. We had dinner at Padonmar restaurant where the food was nice but I was a little disappointed in the decor/building. Wasn’t what I expected.
The rainy season has started good and proper. It’s true that it rains most days but it’s very off/on and apart from when we had visitors earlier this week, hasn’t limited what we’ve wanted to do. It rains all year in England so it’s not like we aren’t used to it. The major plus is that it is much cooler and more bearable when it has rained. I actually now remember what it’s like to feel not hot.
Tony kindly offered to let us tag along on his day trip to promote telemedicine to a village near Taungoo this weekend which meant a slightly painful 5am start. We weren’t really sure what the day would involve and it was slightly random but fun. It was a pleasant drive on the expressway, passing through lush countryside and mountain views. This road leads all the way to Naypitaw and Mandalay. It’s in good condition relatively speaking and was relatively quiet. We found out that lorries aren’t allowed on this main road that links north to south. Only normal cars. Instead, lorries have to trundle along a single lane old road. Make what you want out of that fact!
The final part of the journey from Taungoo to the village was a little tortuous, crossing a wooden bridge (see below) etc. This emphasised that telemedicine would probably be quite useful here! We went to what I can only describe as a sort of village hall, where people congregated, I guess the village elders etc. We were given tea and snacks of rice cakes, sticky rice, mango and bananas. We then had lunch, chicken, fish and veggies. Just in case we needed anything else we were presented with cake, more mango and more bananas for afters!! Tony and his colleague Dr Chit then did their presentation and a few people got chest x rays done to have a go at the equipment. Apparently it went very well so they’re hopeful. We then went to a monastery and well I’m not sure what was going on entirely but we got shown a selection of antiques on a large wooden lazy Susan.
We got back to Yangon around 9pm and had been invited to a party by a friend of one of my friend’s in London. It was in a huge house with garden in the ‘British Compound’ hosted by some people from the British Embassy who live there. We were pretty shattered after Taungoo but thought it would be a good opportunity to meet the friend of a friend. When we arrived we knew not a soul and felt awkward – I feel awkward at the best of times so this was massively awkward. We made the most of the generous beer and pizza being handed round. We recognised one person who we had randomly seen when in Dawei (there were no other Caucasians in Dawei so this was no special feat) and approached him literally saying, ‘We don’t know anyone here but we recognise you!’. As the night wore on we did bump into two other people we knew. However the person who invited us, the main reason I went, we didn’t meet and I haven’t a clue if she actually ever got there! I think I’m just too old and socially inept to enjoy these sort of functions. Also, seeing this amazing house, garden, you could imagine yourself far removed from real Yangon – made myself think I’m doing the wrong job (no, not really).
In other more medical news, this week I had a few deaths of patients I had reviewed so felt a bit ‘could I have done anything differently’ reflective Low Cd4s and probably might have died even in the UK. It’s the not knowing exactly what happened to cause the death which is a bit frustrating; when the patients go to hospital you can’t find out what happened or get a ‘summary’ like you do at home. You can only make a guess at what information the relatives (if they have them) can tell you.
Now, back to swimming. Carb overload after this weekend