Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A New School

Jr. Scientist and Future Neurologist

Today we are to meet at 9am with Ma Pwe, an engineer who has been referred to Primo by both Tycoon Pun and the notorious and unmet, Haymar. She is to escort us to a school in need, which is being considered to be an new project for the Jamestown Rotary and Primo and Prima.
Kindergarten and First Graders Classroom
Ma Pwe and her husband meet us in the lobby. They have procured 2 vehicles for the journey, to be paid for by the new Rotarian Club in Yangon. The school is for 1st thru 5th grade. There are no trained teachers there, nor principle. All of the teachers have agreed to come and meet us, on their day off, to show us around. Primo and Prima were teachers for many, many years, so they will be able to access the situation and abilities of the staff. I am there to take pictures.
Classrooms divided by grass mats
The school is about an hours drive from Nyuang U. We turn down a side road and eventually turn onto a dirt path, between some sketchy looking stores. In front of us is the school. It is one large, long building – only one room with woven grass mats separating the classes from each other. To the left of the building is a 3 sided wooden/grass mat structure with a  wooden floor about 1 foot off the ground that is being used for kindergarten. Beside that is a rudimentary playground consisting of 4 old tires buried in the ground, a dangerous looking swing set with fraying rope and a splintery old teeter-totter.
Cistern for Water
The School has no electricity or running water, though there is a cistern/holding tank to catch 
rainwater. In the back of the school are 4 “squats”, 2 for teachers and 2 mini sized ones for students. In the building on the walls are all the trappings of learning- science projects home ec stuff, grammar and English language classes. Prima is busy talking to the teachers to see which ones speak the best English. Looking up, the roof has holes thru out.
Holes in the roof of the school
This is school for about 50 kids – 24 girls and 25 boys. It sits next to a monastery. The teachers have dressed up in their finest clothes. Everyone wants to make a good impression. Everyone knows how much they need here. After the tour, our kind hosts’ have provided refreshments for us in the principal’s office. Hot Tea, Bottled Water, Roasted Peanuts, Tempura Vegetables, some sort of donuts filled with fresh coconut. This is a bounty of food for a poor people. The teachers refuse all the food offered to them, this is for us. It is humbling. 
Snacks in the Principals office with Ma Pwe
Tycoon Pun has already donated 1000USD for the school. The Jamestown Rotary will pitch in. Between them, the will be a new roof, a new playground and hopefully, enough to run electricity for fans and lights. In addition, Primo and Prima will return sometime in Feb 2018, to spend a week teaching students’, check on the work/renovation and help the teachers with their English skills and lesson plans
Educators of The New Myanmar-Grades 1 thru 5
Not bad, and it’s not even noon yet.
Back in vacation-land, we relocate to Nyaung U, the big town near the ruins. There we meet Mr. Myo, the great taxi driver. We just want to see stuff. Local stuff. We hire him for 2 hours. Driving thru town, we collide with a parade! There’s lots of loud music and pretty girls with parasols. It is quite charming. Nyaung U is not a pretty town. It’s just dusty.

Pretty maids all in a row
“Take us to the viewing tower!”
The only way to appreciate the enormity of the range of ruins, is to view the landscape from the air. A hot air balloon costs several hundred dollars. We are cheap. Not going to happen. But some wise fool, built a 9 story viewing tower in the middle of a posh resort, so maybe someone like us can see the view. 
The tower is a reproduction of the tower at the Royal Palace in Mandalay
Mr. Myo takes us down sand covered roads, thru farmlands and by golf courses to get there. The scenic route. What Myo does not anticipate, is the amount of sand on the road and the depth of sand on the road and thus we become stuck, deep in the hot, white sand, in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, we have pushed a taxi out of harms way before and without asking we all hop out of the car and begin to push as the tires fling the fine sand onto our clothes.
Landscapes littered with Temples and Pagoda's
Presto, we’re back in business. Mr. Myo is beside himself. Tourist’s helping- tourist pushing the car!
Within moments we are at the tower. Monkey Man pays for Mr. Myo’s ticket to join us at the top. He has never had the chance to ascend and his smile is our reward. 
Top of the tower, The Irrawaddy River in the distance.
The view is indescribable. Mountains on one side, the Irrawaddy River on another, and in-between thousands of temple complexes littering the ground.
Lots and Lots of Buddhas
Before going back to the hotel, we decided to visit just one temple for the day. It is a small complex called Alotawpyi-gu-hpaya Temple. It is very old, dating back to the 12th century. The astounding part of this temple, is that there are hundreds of buddhas painted on the inside which have survived the test of time, the test of tourists, lights and environments’ degradation that normally wipes out such treasures.  The Buddhas depict the 28 reincarnation of the Buddhas. The first thing I witness there, is a monk, his cell phone out, taking pictures of the buddhas. 
Sunset over the Irrawaddy
As a group, we decide Mr. Myo is the man for us tomorrow, for the Temple Trail/ Stupa-fication Tour. We will meet him at 830am.

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