saluting

The critical 69 years old lonesome catholic Ex-Navy Captain teaches english at university and also free of charge for young and old (doctors and professors), who are ambitious to learn. Joined a lesson and had a chat with him and his four students at my last day in Myeik in the evening. He teaches nearly 60 in his leisure time. His wife died early. By translating he also tries to mediate values, like why it´s good to make donations. He talks about the corruptive military system in Myanmar – the reason why he left the military service, retired. Mostly the students dream about going to foreign countries. Singapore or Thailand, because of the good relationship between them, to rise their skills and earning enough money to send it to the family.
They are asking me questions, well, more they had to, the Captain pushed them – Oh Captain, my Captain!
– Can you explain to me the value of time?
– Sir.
– …
– You say “Sir”.
– Can you explain to me the value of time, Sir?
– Why are you travelling?
– Why do you have a beard?
Beat this!
– I saw you on the street today and i recognized that you are an honest and educated man not like many other tourists. That´s why I invited you to join the class. I very appreciate your visit. You are always welcome.
He also appreciates that he had learned, under the impact of colonialization, british-english.
– (…) like Obama. Not like today, the students learning burmese english, mixing up vocabularies and pronouncation is very bad. (…) Why? The government doesn´t want young people learning proper english, because they are afraid of loosing power and money by an educated youth. As I was a young, soldiers were soldiers, not like today, they are more business men, you have to pay but nothing happens.
I realize now that I didn´t asked him about his name. Julia, Diana and Cinderella, the boy, new in this class, didn´t had a name at this point. He gave his students english names, because they are shorter.
– Burmese names are too long.
Baptised himself “The Challenger”, appeared to me like a cartoon superhero. A master of puppets. A very calm, balanced and upright man with a big heart and a great vision.
– Everybody should be educated in Myanmar and should have the possibility to visit school, right?!
In another way, he has something of a dictator as well, like a visionary has to, waiting beyond his shaded glasses for efforts and answers. He is proud of possessing books like “In 80 days around the world” and “Gulliver´s Travel” and some catholic church literature in english.
– English books are very hard to find in Myanmar. The book sellers don´t know a lot about english literature.
Maybe that´s the reason why it´s not forbidden to read them.
His house is constructed like a typical traditional, made of wood, on stilts, downstairs the open kitchen, toilet and garage, all-in-one, the room upper floor he prepared like a classroom, with a small room next door for sleeping. Tables, high like your knees sitting down the floor, placed in a friendly rectangle. Teacher´s desk at the top, messed up with books, DVDs, scripts, a mirror and small presents, religious talismans of Father Bruno. The board behind him. He takes his mission very serious, always motivating his students to ask me questions. They were more afraid, on one hand about their english skills, on the other about the strictness of the Challenger.
– Julia (his most advanced creation), come on, introduce yourself and make the presentation why english is good to learn.
Julia starts after putting herself together with a hidden smile. Presenting. About a 2 minutes speech, By rote. It seems to me that Julia didn´t knew what she is talking about. But I was wrong. Chatting with her was a pleasure, Julia his the master´s beloved puppet. They had just to struggle mostly with self-confidence to talk and to make mistakes.
I really appreciate the 90 minutes. Impressive and the most authentic look behind the curtain until now.
– God bless you.
And first time in my life that I accepted the nonsense phrase, by heart.
– Hope we will meet again.
I really do.
What a perfect nightlife!

Leaving tomorrow back North again.

eyebold

Can´t remember when i felt so tired. Browsing around in Dawei and Myeik, downtown or on the countryside or on the way from downtown to the countryside or on the way back, i was more an attraction to the locals as the opposite. Everyone whispering coy, saying, yelling “Hello, my friend!”. Joining in a chorus of friendshipping. Conquering another world, exploring the west. There is no way out of, powered by the fact that i was the only foreigner in town. Tried to escape in restaurants or bars. They called their neighbours, by mobile or just hailed them from the streest. Adapting me, touchy, being so amazed by my beard, how tall i am and my feeds, and mainly freaking out on my tattoos. That interest is neither about age nor social status. I am a traveling circus, or a symbol, a march of victory about the political change (by the fact that the military is still acting random, legislating or cancel rights and rules, like, massage is not allowed in Myeik, because a general didn´t felt treated very well, that´s maybe more a rumor, but still a pointing collage). Waving greeds, smiling, again and again, smiling, my face felt like carved in stone. Would be interesting how my appearance would be like without my tattoos and beard. My head is full of eyes, the brain attacked by gazes, a real-life psychodelic dream of boiling in an eyeball soup.
Avoiding nightlife. Don´t wanna sit circled by locals spending me whiskey and communicate with hands and arms. The dialog mostly ends with “my friend”, missing vocabulary, lately by responding “Fine. And how are you?”. Burmese is a tough language to learn, the tonality is deafen my tongue, i didn´t manage until today to pronounce Dawei in an understandable way. On the street after a couple of blocks always felt dizzy by turning my head from the right to the left, upside down and backwards. Hiding behind the camera was the only exit and one way to get a picture of daily life and culture.
On my last day down South it has stopped nailing, it´s a sunny afternoon, i am sitting in the lobby of the guesthouse, trying to relax, have a date in two hours at a primary school, teacher asked to visit, because he thinks it´s good for the students talking to foreigners. And, yes of course it is! But where are the other foreigners! Plural!!! Burn in hell!!! Just for a second and then beam them to Myeik, please, to this audience of wide opened hungry eyeballs.
I need a nap.

… to be continued

top secret

Student monks gathered, massage the legs of one of the three monks at the monastry. Sitting on his throne, kindly reigning, with eyes glooming, his face as itself reminding me to the mainactor of IP MAN, but more blooming. Joking about my beard, “You shave and look handsome. You could stay here as a monk, because of bold head. But no beard.” Played a board game, called Ze, smiliar to air hockey, a remix of air hockey and billard. James, my guide, a very friendly but also sometimes stressfull companion, reminding me again and again that it´s up to me what i want to do, but we always reached the place on his schedule. – Explaining that i am vegetarian, don´t wanna watch animals in cages, even if it´s seafood, arriving a couple of bumpy roads later at a crab farm. Whatever, maybe it´s because he likes more increase his english and german language skills, instead of listening. I am not sure about provisons, more he is manifasting his position as the only proper english speaking (non-official) guide in Myeik. Beside that, he is a pretty nice one, named by german tourists 007. How many guides around the world named 007 are existing? They should arrange a 007 guide meeting.

The most weird stop of the half-day trip, which ended up as a day-trip caused by rainy hours, was a second monastry. Serious sick people, like suffering cancer or even HIV, were most of the time treated there. I had to study the whole history of patience treatment. With pictures, cruel one. Fifty-nine cases. Afterwards they wanted to show me how they get treated. At the monastry, widespreaded wooden construction sites around with paces, mostly consisting and more grown by buffalo shit, bridges made of planks and bamboo, crossing channels filled with crap and whatever that could be… so, at that, and still, beautiful place out of nowhere, two patience were treated. Kind of accupancture, the monk uses like a about a meter long bronzy stick, calibre maybe 5 mm, at the top ending like a blunt quartered stamp. The sticks are spotted on the body, which part of depends on what kind of sickness, for example breast cancer directly at the center of the spread, with pressure, not sticking inside, just pressed on. Every day during their stay, about 1 month, after that, they are fuckin cured! Surprise! “Sometimes the patient come too late, it´s just too late, they waited too long to come here, so they die.” A young girl, staying at the monastry, was filming my visit, and took pictures as i was leaving. With no donation. It didn`t occur to me why. Honestly, i didn´t felt very comfortable at that ungolden, meaning kind of imitating, monastry. Maybe caused by prejudice, maybe because of reminding me to my father´s cancer treatment. The trip to the monastry passing small villages was pretty worth anyway.

At the first monastry, near a ship construction harbour (building a fishermen`s ship in 1 month and reparing takes about 7 days), James, 007, the guide, after lunch, i ate there a three-in-one-fuckin-huge banana, never seen that kind of natural grown mutation – “No chemicals.”, was documenting, again, by off-orders of the monk, as i was passing my donation, in an envelope, presented by him, on my knees, in a 45 degree position towards the throne, with both hands. After that he showed me two posters with pictures of altogether three german tourist having done the same trip. I felt pissed in a way, but in the other, they provide an orphanage at the monastry, with kids even far back from home, like Thailand, lost parents, bumming around, crossing borders. “They stay there for free, get free education, a place to stay” – and to be. Children from the villages around also can join the class. Teachers are six women. Tried to chat with one teaching english, she couldn´t understand one word. Whatever. Education is and will ever be a power, the power to survive, reaching criticism and sort of independence, especially for females n countries like Myanmar. The monk was approving with “If you come back, whenever that is, in the future, you are always welcome, we will remember you.” I am sure he is acting that script to everyone leaving the monastry, or maybe that words caused by the donation. But i felt quite pretty well up there, on the hilltop, with an amazing view over paddy fields and the mountain area at the horizon. And they still service a very important work. Taking care of the lost and forgotten. Sometimes they get money from the military, “but only when a general is visiting and then as a gift”. Kind of like that image of autonomy, even if this is for sure not the whole truth, the truth about religion, or the lies about.
I was glad to reached the hotel at the evening. Just because of the worst motorbike (adorned with a swastika and an iron-cross patch on the front – “Yes, it`s about Hitler.”) trip until today, i had to drive, James don´t like to, he is more in cycling, exercising. Hippie agent.

Myeik has the potential to develop a hotspot, for trekking, diving or just relaxing in the new Venice of Southeast Asia, with it´s marvelous surrounding and islands, resting like an excess breasted mermaid near the coast. I don´t know what i am hoping for. For the locals tourism is the exit of poverty, but not for all of them, mainly not for the poor. It´s possible to book a diving trip today, from Thailand, crossing the border for the trip. Money sinks in the suits of the military gouvernment, to keep them floating on the top.

Nobody asks you in Myanmar about the issue of your travel, of course you are a tourist, modern colonialism has just begun and so hasn´t reached the rural areas yet.