Announcement - Bamarlay's Diary

I am moving my blog to Myanmar Man's Diary.It has already passed the beta testing stage and now up and running. Please visit my new blog. For, I will be updating it with the excerpt from my new posts in Myanmar Man's Diary. Another blog I was invited to contribute to is Today in Myanmar, a website about Myanmar culture, custom, information, travel advice, life and anything about Myanmar. You can also visit the new blog. So far, I am the only one who regularly contribute to this blog while other friends are still writing their articles. Thank you for your support.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Web hosting services from Myanmar - A web hosting service from Myanmar but the servers are in US. - A subsidary of KMD Computer. The site claimed it provides web hosting service but I cannot find the link. And the supposed links are not working (or they are not links actually). There are many areas which really look like links but they are not links! Quite confusing to navigate. Very badly designed site. Shame for KMD. - The hosting service of my choice. We are using it for our site. Reasonably priced. Servers are in US. - Another web hosting and web design company from Myanmar. Unfortunately, they write their site in Myanmar and they don't mention what font they use. So I cannot give any comment on their service. Too bad. - Another reasonably priced Myanmar web hosting service. - Servers located in US. The price is a bit expensive. - They don't mention the price.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Hospital in the Hills by Gordan S. Seagrave

A few years ago, I received an old book from a friend of mine. The title of the book is “My Hospital in the Hills” and the author is Gordon S. Seagrave. Although it has been with me for nearly three years, it took many months to start reading the book, until a few months ago, when I started flipping the cover. And as soon as I started reading the first page, it took me through to the end of the book. Not only is the book interesting, it portrayed the social, economic, political and historical aspects of The Union of Burma during her early days of independence. Dr. Seagrave was a famous surgeon who opened his missionary hospital in Namkhan, a small town in northern Shan State. Here he established himself as an outstanding surgeon, known all over the world as “Burma Surgeon” His hospital doors were always opened to all those patients, rich or poor, who came from every corner of the country. He was a real life saver at a time where there were very few skilled surgeons in the early and turmoil days of The Union.

Teashops in Myanmar

Teashops are important and integral part of life in Myanmar. As a foreigner who first arrives to Myanmar, you will be surprised to see so many teashops in Yangon and everywhere in Myanmar. They are everywhere in every street. And there are always customers in every teashop. Nowhere in South-East Asia would you find such a large number of teashop. When I was young, there were not as many teashops as now. And the attitude of our parents was that “sitting at a teashop” is a waste of time. We, me and my friends, were always told not to sit at a teashop. That was 15 years ago. Now, everything changed. We Myanmar people use the word “sit at a teashop” because we really sit at a teashop for a very long time, sometimes even hours, after ordering just a cup of tea. The teashop may sell a few snacks. And there is always free flow of plain green tea. You can order as much as plain tea as you like free of charge. So the main reason we sit at a teashop is just to sit, and chat. Well, there is more than just sit and chat Teashops are where friends meet each other, where business are done, where news and gossips are exchanged. You can meet people and hear latest gossips just by sitting at a teashop. There are many styles of teashops in Myanmar. But the most popular one is the road side teashop, where the teashop is opened on a pavement on the side of the road. Small low tables are laid down on the pavement, and the customers sit on small stools. Usually, nice tea is served with a few snacks, and free flow of plain tea. If you really want to experience Burmese way of life, you should sit at a teashop and have new wonderful experience.

For a really good movie in Bangkok, head to Lido

If you want to watch really good international movies in Bangkok, go to Lido House. Situated in Siam Square, which is the Heart and Soul of Bangkok, the old movie theatre shows many internationally acclaimed movies all over the world. The three theatres at Lido show international movies that the main stream cinemas usually don’t show. Some of the movies include those from Japan, Korea, Iran, Africa, and Eastern Europe as well as from US and other countries. The theatre is in the first floor (or second floor if take the ground floor as the first floor) in a building on the Sukhumvit Road, just near the Siam Sky train station.

A visit to a Pagoda

When visiting Myanmar, visiting a pagoda will be an integral part of your visit as there are hundreds of ancient pagodas in Myanmar, and the best way to observe Myanmar arts. Here are a few tips for you.

  • Always wear proper clothes that are not revealing. Avoid wearing shorts, miniskirts, and sleeveless shirts/T-shirts. The clothes should cover your body properly.
  • Always remove both your Shoes & Socks, not only your shoes. You should walk on the pagoda with your bare foot. And take them off as soon as you enter the compound of the pagoda, usually before the first step of the stair.
  • When you sit, avoid pointing your feet towards the pagoda, or any Buddha’s statue.
  • Avoid talking loudly on the pagoda.
  • Don’t touch any Buddha’s statue, except when offering gold foil to the statue.
  • Avoid pointing your finger towards any Buddha’s statue. It is considered rude.
  • Always try to walk behind, not in front of, anybody sitting on the floor praying at the Lord Buddha.
  • Don’t litter and don’t make the floor dirty. This is a sacred ground.

A visit to a Myanmar House

If you are a foreigner, especially outside of South East Asia region, here are a few guidelines for you to pay attention to when visiting a Burmese friend at his home. It is not necessary to call your host in advance before visiting him. However, it is a polite manner to let him know of your visit in advance. It is a custom to remove your shoes before entering a Burmese home. Most of the Burmese houses have wooden floor which is meticulously cleaned, swept and polished. Even if the floor is a concrete one, it is always polite to take off your shoes. It is not necessary to bring a present to your host. It is not a custom for the visitor to bring any present for the host in Myanmar. Be careful of the manner if there is a Buddha’s shrine in the living room. Avoid pointing your feet to the Lord Buddha as it is considered an insult in Myanmar.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Farewell to Canon A-75

I bought my first digital camera in August 2004 while I was in Thailand. It was Canon A-75, a 3 mega pixel camera. It cost around 12,000 baht at that time, which is quite expensive for today’s standard, but quite inexpensive at that time. (Digital cameras three years ago were still not cheap). Since then, it has been with me everywhere I travelled, taking thousands of photos of all those memorable moments. It was small but produced great pictures. (I mean good quality photos). It always felt ease in my hand with all the controls at comfortable places. Moreover, it used four AA size batteries so I could buy spare batteries anywhere if I ran out of power, which was a great comfort in a country like Myanmar where there is no regular electricity.

It stayed with me for more than two years. However, since a few months ago, I started experiencing some problems with the camera. The LCD screen failed to turn on sometimes. When I asked a repair shop at Panthip Plaza, they said the CCD was malfunctioning, and they cannot do anything. Finally I have no option but to retire it entirely.

My Canon A-75 was officially retired in April 2007, after more than two years of faithful service. Well, I couldn’t live without a camera so I bought a new one, this time an Olympus with 7.1 mega pixel, and 10X zoom. And ironically, it is cheaper than my old canon! Well, time changes, and technologies change. New products are always better and cheaper.

Made in Myanmar

It was pretty boring. It was raining most of the day, and when it is not raining, it was cloudy. I was feeling quite lonely and bored. Suddenly, when I looked out of the window of my room, I saw some children playing with an interesting toy. It was a car! Well, not actually. It was a home made wooden cart with four wheels. However, in the imagination of these children, it was a real big car. They might be imagining that this was a really big truck. (For these children, trucks are the largest, grandest and smartest car on earth). The children took turn to ride the car while other children pushed the car. For them, it was really a great thing to do. They kept on doing the same thing again and again but never seemed to be tiring. This was truly a car made in Myanmar.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Burmese Cricket

Looks like this is the Burmese version of English cricket. These are the children in Chin Hills playing a ball game which resembles cricket. (I am not sure as I don’t know how to play cricket). The ball is actually a roll of old cloths tied together with a string. I don’t know where they got the idea for this game. I’ve never seen any child in Yangon play such a game, and as a child, I have never played a game like this when I was young. Anyway, it is so cute to see these poor kids playing a ball game with home made materials like this.


This is what a PCO looks like in Myanmar. PCO stands for Public Call Outlet, a public telephone. Unlike those from other countries, there are no public phones using coins or card. Instead, at a PCO, there are one or two ordinary fixed land line telephones with an attendance to mark time and charge the user. Although not as convenient and as private as true public telephone booths, it is a popular and widely used public communication system in a country where very few people have fixed land line phone or mobile phone.
In small towns and villages, usually there are no automatic telephone exchanges. They have to rely on old and outdated manual telephone exchanges where the caller has to ask the operator to connect his or her call. To call other towns, that is, to make trunk calls, you have to book the call with the operator, or come to one of a few PCOs in the town. This is how I my family while I am in Chin State.

Start of Rainy Season in Chin Hills

In Myanmar, rainy season usually starts in June. In Chin Hills, it usually starts near the end of May. However, this year the rain starts even before May. It started raining at the end of April, one whole month ahead of usual time. It rained quite heavily during the whole month of May. It was still raining the whole month of June.
Rainy season in Chin Hills is quite different from other places in Myanmar. During the rainy season, you rarely see the sun. Not because it is always raining. Although it rains almost everyday, the rain is not continuous. However, whether it rains or not, the sky is usually covered with could. Sunny days in Chin state, during the rainy season are quite a rarity.
When it starts raining, the sky suddenly gets dark, the wind suddenly gets stronger, and cloud suddenly covers everything. In Chin Hills, the cloud not only hangs above the sky. It is everywhere. It is above, around you and below. Because the mountains are so high, some of the cloud hangs lower than the mountains. And when cloud blows towards you, you suddenly disappeared in it.
Because it sometimes rains heavily, landslides are quite frequent. Sometimes because of heavy landslides, roads become inaccessible for days, or sometimes even weeks. In that case, travelers have to walk across the landslide to get to the other side of the mountain. There are occasional road accidents in Chin Hills during the rainy season with some casualties too. Well, life here in Chin Hills is quite tough.


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