Michelle and I left Zwekabin Myay school and Hpa An in the first week of March, but we were not alone. The indefatigable, and also super fun, Bonnie (Michelle’s mom) had joined us! Myanmar is a country she had long wanted to visit (like mother, like daughter) and Michelle and I managed to convince her that she should come and join us as we traveled the country in the three weeks after we finished teaching.
Let me speak one last time about teaching… When we fist arrived at the school we were coming from our workaway experience at Koh Thmei Resort (read about it here). We had a really great time on Koh Thmei, with some really good people that had befriended us, great food, and were just all around well taken care of. The conditions at the school were far different. As previously mentioned, the school has a small budget and is by no means a luxury lifestyle. Suddenly I was sleeping apart from Michelle in a small bamboo hut (with strangers), bathing outside, and eating food that had been cooked by our 20-something year old students (many of whom had little cooking experience and all of whom were scared to talk to us). 2 months later these same students wouldn’t stop talking to us and the whole place just felt like home. Despite all my initial misgivings I had come to really love Zwekabin Myay, its students and staff, and Michelle and I are still (now 5 weeks later) really missing it.
Ok, back to the story… we were lucky to have Bonnie come join us. Michelle and I were both happy for her to see where we were working and living and to have a better idea of what we were actually doing. So we found her a hotel room in town and borrowed a motorbike so I could pick her up to attend some of our classes and then drop her off again. She toured around the Hpa An area with us as well; she must be a trusting lady, never once showing any fear of her son-in-law driving her around Myanmar on the back of a motorbike! We went to a cave temple, among other places, and caught sunset over the river.
Then came our time to depart, and just like that we were leaving Hpa An behind as we sat on a bus headed North. We spent several days in Yangon, seeing a few sights, relaxing, and planning our next few weeks.
One of the sights we saw while in Yangon was the 2500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda. We woke up early one morning, grabbed a taxi, and arrived at about 6 am. As we walked around, admiring the scents of incense and sights of people doing early morning prayers, the sun began to rise and created gorgeous scenes as it reflected off the golden surfaces and mirrored columns. It was a highly worthwhile reason to wake up at a highly undesirable time!