A month at the Phaung Daw Oo School
Myanmar is not near Canada by any stretch of the imagination. Be it physically or culturally.
My journey started on Sunday with a quick flight to Vancouver from Calgary. A three hour layover for my final western meal before the long haul to Beijing and leaving North America far behind. I took this time to finish the book “The Element” by educator Ken Robinson (one of the most highly viewed TED talks ever Ken Robinson . Maker Education ties in with his theories, at least that’s what I’m going to try to do with the curriculum. It must be developed to ensure the students are engaged - this type of program will be hard to pull-off if we can’t get the students 110% engaged. The whole principle depends on that.
Beijing to Yangon was uneventful, landed 40 minutes late, that’s it. Desmond the taxi driver took me to the City Star hotel in downtown Yangon. It was hot 28C, Calgary was 4C when I left 26 hours ago. Texted with my family which seems crazy, I’d traveled in this region 25 years ago with my wife. Back then, mail and the occasional telephone call every 3 or 4 months were the only communications we had. Now I was holding a conversation as if the 7500 miles weren’t there!
My day was spent in Yangon, visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda. Its a mass of golden pagoda's with different Buddha specializing in specific wishes. I wished at the hair loss Buddha for more hair, will report back on hair Buddha’s progress in a few weeks. Saw the ruby Buddha on TV, allegedly it’s so powerful that once a man wished to become king, he asked the ruby Buddha for help and succeeded. As the new king he ensured the ruby Buddha was not seen again until the advent of TV!
Tuesday night was the final stage, the bus journey from Yangon to Mandalay, quite the journey. Like many parts of the world, the traffic here is heavy and crazy. The main rules seems to be only look forward. They drive on the right, the same as Canada but import thousands of left hand drive cars from Japan. Drivers can't easily see to overtake, but it doesn't seem to hinder them. How we didn’t crash or kill multiple pedestrians is beyond me. The bus terminus was a small industrial unit, for some reason I’d expected some massive colonial edifice, but instead just a tiny room with lots of people. The atmosphere erupted each time a bus left, they have to reverse out of the lot, everyone and I mean everyone has to get involved. The noise level exploded each and every time, then once the bus was gone and the usual, quieter chaos returned.
The roads are NOT smooth, the buses are modern, luxury buses but the ride is rough. They are toll roads so I assume there new or at least newish. It was dark… I’d love to see them in the day just to see why the journey was so bumpy. It was a long way - 8 hours, with a stop at Shwe Pyi 115 Miles, a Myanmarmise transport cafe for a meal and the toilet. The food was good, hard to order though, lots of pointing, haven’t got the ear for Myanmarmise yet. Then back to the bumpy, unforgiving bus. Hours later and finally we were here, Mandalay, my new home for the next month.