Sunday, January 18, 2009
We made our second trip to Burma yesterday. This time we tried to stay a bit longer than 10 minutes. We went down to a restaurant by the river that we'd seen from the bridge, along the way I helped some poor kid who was trying to push one of those garbage carts up onto a footpath, we both gave it a huge shove and it got up, I can't believe how heavy they are, then I watched him disappear beneath the bridge, bouncing the ton weight over the uneven surface. We changed some money along the way, on the street, the burmese currency is mainly traded on the blackmarket (which is essentially means on desks set up outside on the main street). We had no idea what the exchange rate was, but we got 3200 Kyat (pronounced Jah) for 100baht. Aparently the worst places to go to exchange money is a government bank, apparently they maintain the exchange rate to the dollar is 6kyat, if this were the case, I imagine it would be the most expensive standard of living in the world. When we got to the restaurant we didn't see much but an outside bar, all we wanted to do was sample some genuine Burmese tea, which is made with condensed milk (Carnation - the best known condensed milk brand - advertises in Thailand and Burma as being specifically for tea). They didn't seem to have tea on the menu, but they told us they did. A moment later they arrived with two cups of Burmese tea and a huge pot of green tea. The Burmese tea was like drinking caramel and it was nice to have the green tea as a cleanser. We sat for a while, watching the Burmese catch the tube, the inner tube that is, to and from Thailand, the river is so shallow that one tube driver just walked them accross, even the natural marker between the two countries is a facade, Abacus was off somewhere with a Burmese woman, she's had so many weird interactions here. When we left we noticed a cafe down the street with cups and pots suspiciously like the ones we'd just been served, they must have just gone down the road to get it. We still had a couple of thousand Kyat left so we bought some Burmese cakes, which tasted like deep fried donuts, one with strawberry filling tasted acidic, we ended up giving them to a homeless woman halfway along the friendship bridge on the way back, the second homeless person we gave a 1000 kyat, and same to the third just to get rid of it, they seemed pretty surprised. These last two beggars, this is not to be mean, but we couldn't tell if they were man or woman, so skinny, darkened and wizened from the sun, their eyes so sunken, sitting slumped beneath a pile of towels and rags, poverty stripping them of any semblance of themselves.
Posted by abacus' parents at 6:57 PM