Bits and Pieces - Yangon

The monsoon is supposed to be over, but we've had some fairly heavy rain in the last few days. This is apparently quite unusual: when the monsoon ends, it ENDS. We should be in the dry season. The drainage system here is totally unable to handle heavy rain, and I thought hopping puddles in my neighbourhood was bad until I caught a cab and he was driving through 15 cm (6 inches) of water in places on Baho Road.

Gmail is only intermittently available, and today I can get one message every five minutes. But I can post to the blog. I'm at Cyberworld across from Trader's Hotel, one of the ritziest hotels in the city. Their speeds vary between slow and go-eat-a-meal-while-the-email-sends - if your site comes up at all.

My plan is to go to Taunggyi tomorrow night - it's an overnight, 14 hour bus ride (if the bus doesn't break). I'm told that leaving Yangon is somewhat akin to stepping back a century in time - even though you may already feel you've gone back two or three decades coming to Yangon. This probably means that I won't be posting for a couple weeks. I'm told to expect horse- and ox-carts, bicycles, and a distinct lack of motorized vehicles. Power outages have been rare here, but that seems to be good luck: they're normally pretty common.

The Nissan Sunny and Toyota Corolla make up the majority of vehicles on the road in Yangon (about 50% of the cars I see). Paul would be amused: the Corolla wagon he gave up about four years ago is alive and well by the dozens over here. Occasionally you'll see a perfectly maintained VW Beetle (old style). Don't know what it is about them, perhaps they're a bit of a cult car here? Most other cars are quite battered.

One interesting cultural point in Myanmar: the way you hand things to people. You pass with the right hand, and the left hand touches the inside of the right elbow as you do it. This is also common in parts of Africa, but I didn't see it in Thailand - although it's the kind of thing you may not notice unless someone points it out ...