The monsoon rains have finally hit Mandalay. All the streets are flooded, people are drenched from head to toe, and mud splatter covers almost every surface. Things seem quieter in Mandalay now, with fewer people on the streets, and definitely much cooler. For me, it’s a welcome respite. I don’t mind getting wet, and I certainly don’t mind having a break from the sun and heat!
I’m becoming a little bit sad as things wind down with my classes. As the final week approaches, my students keep expressing their gratitude and desire that I come back next summer. Right now they’re planning farewell celebrations, and I suspect they’re all pooling money to buy me some kind of present. I told them I don’t want anything, but they insist that they need to give a token of their appreciation. If I’ve learned one thing this summer, it’s that the people of Myanmar are incredibly generous and always insist on hospitality.
I’ve held the past couple of teaching sessions outside the classroom, hoping that some mini-field trips would provide a more relaxed environment for students to practice their conversational English while also being a memorable experience for them. On Saturday we went to watch cane ball at the Waso festival, holding a discussion session afterwards in a teashop, and on Tuesday we visited a teak wood monastery, chatting with one of the monks about the building’s history and current preservation efforts.
For the past two weeks, I've been planning a final trip to Bagan and Inle Lake, two of Myanmar's major tourist attractions in the central part of the country. I'm especially excited to see Bagan's old pagodas, many of which apparently feature centuries-old wall paintings, and am hoping to find them well-secured and well-preserved. Rather than taking the bus or train, as most tourists do, I'll be traveling by motorbike -- it'll take longer and is a little more dangerous, but I look forward traveling on country roads and seeing village life up-close. Nothing makes me happier than a little adventure!