This week I had the opportunity to go to the Delta (southern part of Myanmar). This was a great contrast to life in the north-central Dry Zone.
We had the opportunity to visit a village and speak with some of the residents. Here is a plot that this farmer has to water by hauling buckets of water down the rows (200 trips per day).
He used to have to go to the stream which was about 100 feet away, but now he uses this Proximity Designs treadle pump. He has expanded his plot and is now looking to buy the drip irrigation system (in the picture is Betel leaf, but he has expanded to also grow vegetables like eggplant. His income more than doubled after buying the pump.
This family is one of our customers who purchased a d.light (its the light above the man in the picture). The light also allows for mobile phone charging.
They used to use kerosine (on the left) and candles (on the right) to light their house. The smoke is terrible, let alone the risk of fire or of a toddler accidentally drinking the kerosine.
Here is their house:
Here is a girl who uses a smaller sized d.light to do her homework.
The people were so nice. They provided a spread of fruits, tea, and tea leaf salad.
We also had a chance to speak with the villagers. Their biggest problem (according to this group): access to credit. With labor rates increasing they need help to fund their businesses.
We visited a hardware store where our products are sold:
Here is the woman who runs the store (and one of the d.lights from Proximity Designs):
As for me, this past week I’ve been living in a pool house outside the city (in an area called North Dagon).
Looks nice, but the mosquitos are ferocious. I had to upgrade my mosquito net after I realized that the one I brought from the U.S. was way too small.
This is what happens when a piece of your skin touches the net:
The other downfall is that when the other Proximity person stayed there the commute was around 40 minutes. Now, the commute has been more than an hour. The traffic here is intense, and apparently the price of cars is dropping. Without traffic, the commute took 20 minutes. This week I will be moving to a hotel that is within ~3 minutes walking distance to the office.
Regarding city explorations, I was showed the closest thing to Whole Foods in Yangon. It’s called “Marketplace by City Mart”:
And I thought I wouldn’t be able to find familiar brands!
We ate a great Japanese place called Fuji that is at the grocery store:
This week I also attended a screening of a documentary at an art gallery (there is a big art culture here). The movie was about human trafficking of men onto Thai fishing boats. I could devote an entire post to this topic (and I might), but for now, here is a piece from the New York Times.
I also set up my Burmese bank account, which was great. It’s a USD account, but I am planning to set up a local Kyat account once their ATM card machine starts working again. Regardless, having the USD account let’s me receive a portion of my paycheck directly to my bank account here, and a portion of my paycheck directly to my Bank of America account in the US.
Finally, here is a little snack I tried the other day (one of the Burmese workers brought in a bag of these). The trick is to remove the wings (I was told to “remove the fly”). Basically just tasted like crunchy oil. I was pretty fine with the whole thing (I’ve previously eaten a worm and a scorpion) until after I ate it and the guy broke open one of the bodies and showed me all the eggs inside. I kept telling myself that it isn’t all that different from the eggs in a lobster, or fish eggs.
That’s all for today. I had my first Burmese tutor session today, which was great, and I’m hoping to learn more of the language so that I can speak more fluidly with the people here.