About Me

Greeting strangers! If you are reading this right now you most likely fall into one of these categories: family, friends, teachers, or fellow Juniata College students. If you are not one of the above by whatever misfortune or luck you have stumbled upon a college's student study abroad experience in China. Please stay and enjoy. My name is Jasun. Now to interject two disclaimers. One, this is my blog and I will speak my mind and sometimes, unfortunately, this may cross your comfort's threshold - and for that I apologize. Two, as much as this blog belongs to me, I am writing for you. As such, if there are any questions (I mean any) that pop into your head that you want answered just send me an email at Moyjf08@juniata.edu and I'll answer it on this blog. One more thing. I can't seem to upload pictures here. So I will most likely be uploading pictures on my facebook account. If you are interested in seeing these pictures and are not a facebook friend by all means add me - just leave message saying something of the sort that you follow this blog if I do not know you. Best wishes throughout the year, and I hope together we make it a fun, educational, and safe year.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day 1 Myanmar – The Tropical Oasis in the Freezing Desert

What a great day. I finally got out of China, a much needed break. As the day progressed my joy continued to exponentially get larger. I feel like I’m finally setting off on my own adventure. I discount China, to a degree, because I have Danny. Danny is terrific and a life saver; nor am I sure how I would have survived without him. But that’s just it. There was someone there is to assist me. Myanmar marks my first real adventure because there are only two things for certain: I have a plane ticket to Myanmar and I have a ticket out of Myanmar. Everything else is an unknown. An adventurer’s dream and a mom’s worst nightmare. There were two defining moments where I just cracked out a smile. The first was in China as I was preparing to board walking down the long platform towards the plane. The second was after we landed in Myanmar and I walked off the plane. First thoughts were that Myanmar felt like a nice tropical sauna. Just what the doctor called for after spending so much time in Coldville.

But the more I experience the heat, the more I worry. It’s hotter here than expected, probably in the 80’s – this is their winter temperature. I’m a little worried because all I packed – in regards to pants - for the duration of my journey were two pairs of jeans. I didn’t know before leaving Dalian if I would be able to get out of the country so only packed for winter in China. Even still, I probably just of been more prepared. Oh wells, I guess keeping cool is going to be tough. As I write this though I can say at least in the evening and early morning it gets quite a bit cooler.

One thing I forgot to mention was that I was traveling with a couple that is friends with my friends in Kunming. I’m only mentioning them now because of customs. As two custom agents came up to us and started filling out the forms for us, the couple took the liberty to offer them both “gifts” or bribes to ensure getting through customs wouldn’t be a problem. I might do that while leaving Myanmar because I was thinking of smuggling some of the local currency out – which is illegal.

After customs I parted with the couple and took a cab to the White House Hotel. Apparently, this is the number one hotel in Yangoon by a few reputable sources. After paying a $10 USD cab fare, freaking expensive, I found out that rooms were available and was able to score a room for $10 USD a night. I even got a room on the roof, which I thought was a good idea until I found out there are like nine floors and no elevator… The room is actually a triple I think because there are 2 ½ (3) beds – one is broken which is of course the one I’m sleeping on because the other two beds are in an enclave with no windows, fan, or a/c – no thanks. The bed I’m sleeping on is outside – which is getting an excellent breeze this evening. After checking my room I must say I have my doubts about the quality of my accommodations, but supposedly their breakfast is the best in Myanmar for hotels. And no, I did not choose this hotel for their breakfast this time.

After changing into the most appropriate clothes I brought I decided to stroll around downtown and also exchange some money. During the exchange and after reminded me very much of a movie I watched called Lord of War with Nicholas Cage. I don’t remember the exact quote right now, but when I get back I’ll be sure to look it up. But it goes something like “selling a gun for the first time is a lot like sex; you don’t really know what’s going on and before you know realize it’s over.” I felt my feelings very accurately resembled that quote. I had no idea what I was doing or what I should be saying and before I knew it I was walking away with a huge wad of the local currency (Kyat).

For dinner I found a fairly busy restaurant that had pictures and an English menu. I ordered chicken with rice. It was really delicious, reminding me of Indian food. Which does make sense seeing as there is a fairly large Indian minority, the proximity of Myanmar and India, and Myanmar’s history of Indian immigrants.

Myanmar is a melting pot of various different ethnicities. There is also a significant Chinese and Japanese presence. For those who don’t know anything about the Burmese (people from Myanmar), they are quite dark skinned – resembling Indians; making it quite easy to distinguish Burmese from other ethnicities. What I’ve found really interesting is the mix between Orientals (Chinese, etc) and Burmese. Their children are dark-skinned, yet their facial appearance maintains the Oriental look. Or in other words they look Chinese, Japanese, Korean but with really dark skin. This has made me wonder what the cultural future will look like in Myanmar. In China, at least, there is a strong cultural norm to make yourself look as white (Caucasian) as possible. I’m not sure if it is true for Myanmar or if it’ll ever pick up, but an interesting theoretical question and some food for thought.

This brings me to another interesting topic. My own personal experience with my appearance. This is probably one of the most important topics I’ve wanted to discuss but have failed to even mention or talk about it in my blog yet. This is because I’m not sure how to proceed and tackle this nitty-gritty topic. Yet I think it is about time I at least address and get it out in the open. Perhaps this will help me in the future with how to write and cover this completely. But let’s begin. As I went for my walk earlier in the day, I was continuously stared at. I’m not completely sure if it is because of my ethnicity or the way I dress – because I’m not wearing a longyi or basically a skirt like nearly everyone else. Initially, as I left China that’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted it to be known that I was a foreigner for various reasons. In China, I’m considered Chinese until I talk. Which I like; but it is the reactions that come after that annoyed me to no end. This was another reason I wanted to get out of China. But now after experiencing what I wanted, I’m not sure I want it anymore. I’m not sure what’s worse right now, being seen as a local or being stared at and looked at as a foreigner. It is only day one. I think I need to experience this feeling more and hopefully time will tell. I think that’s it for now. See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. So what is the reaction you get in China once you start talking?