Monday, January 1, 2018

later that same day…

It's not like we were looking to visit another pagoda, or three. Today was my last full day, and all I really wanted was to splash in the pool and find some golden owls. Pam needed to buy a bus ticket to Thailand. Dawdling in the mall, I wished a young woman "Happy New Year." She laughed and did a little dance move, and then gestured to the roof. Recognized for my dance moves at the party last night.

Also I wanted to check out the cashew nut factories. But it was hot and seemed like too far to walk, and there aren't really any taxis in Myeik, except scooters without helmets. 

Yesterday I got two separate rides with people who weren't taxis, one a motorbike with sidecar we randomly flagged down and later, someone's friend who agreed to drive over to the fancy hotel after the party. This is what it's like to be a white person in Myanmar, treated like a guest of honor.

And then today we found this perfect tuktuk. The driver even spoke a little English and headed out of the city centre, away from honking scooters.

First stop: a cashew factory. The workers are almost entirely women. They smiled broadly when we came in and didn't seem to mind us taking pictures.
Cashews are boiled so they can be deshelled.
These women are hard at work deshelling. Many wore gloves and ad hoc wrist braces with rubber bands. My repetitive strain injury flared up in sympathy just watching them.
The atmosphere was convivial. Women in Myanmar tend to laugh and smile even under duress.
After the cashews are deshelled, young women (some very young) use a knife to flick the skin off. The nuts are divided into grades: whole cashews, halves, and pieces. Most are shipped to China and Malaysia. There weren't any we could buy.

I will never complain again about the (comparatively) high price of cashews.

How about another golden stupa? This pagoda, known locally as Shwedagon after the famous one in Yangon, is modern, and didn't have any exciting Buddhas inside.

The inside felt like a baroque carousel.
Groups of students lay in wait, ready to take selfies with us.

These paintings depict the planning of the new pagoda. They felt like Chinese propaganda.

I liked the bells a lot. Nearby was this Buddha with the teapot.

At the top of the hill is this golden globe.
This bridge goes over the Tanintharyi River. Young people park their motorbikes on the roadway and were just hanging out on the rim.
Last stop: Kyweku dock yard where they build and repair fishing boats.

The ships are huge.
 This one is even in international orange.
The ships go out to sea for 4 to 6 weeks. Other ships light the fishing area at night, or ferry caught fish back to shore, where it can be shipped off to Thailand.

These women do the detail work, carrying wood for repairs and cans of accent paint to the crews.
For dinner, we returned to Yadanar oo Chinese, a few doors down from our hotel. This time we asked to sit up on the balcony, and the servers hastily carried a table and chairs up. We tried sautéed ta nyin, which was like a spinach or watercress, with garlic.

The sun was setting and supermoon rising. Then we heard the music and saw a parade of young men marching. The psychedelic floats from the Buddha festival yesterday! Here's the ogre, and the clown.
And finally a live band, with chorus and dancer. 

For once, we were in exactly the right place at the right time. A good omen to start the year.