It is still warm here in Mandalay. Air conditioning in the room is a very nice commodity. Without AC it would probably take quite awhile to adjust to the night time temperatures and get some sleep. Today there was a bit of lighting and some billowing thunder. It was the first time in my trips to Myanmar that I have seen rain. It only lasted a couple of minutes unfortunately. It would surely have been a cleansing rain if it had only lasted a bit longer.
On Saturday March 24 it didn’t rain and we had an off day. Our rented a taxi, piloted by Aung Aung, took us to Mingun which is the home of a rather large brick temple and a rather huge bell. Mingun lies on the Irrawaddy River opposite Mandalay. The trip took about an hour each way but was well worth it. The Mingun Bell weighs in at 199,999 pounds. I don’t think that is true however, when I lifted it up it couldn’t have weighed more than 199,950 pounds. The area is also home to the Hsinbyume Pagoda and the Mingun Pahtodawgyi. No words I can give can explain the majesty of this relic. It is an amazing structure made of brick which has huge cracks and has been deteriorating over the centuries.
We would soon see the Mingun Pahtodawgyi from another angle as well. On Sunday March 29 we went out and did some reconnaissance on the two schools we will be putting labs into, Ye Twin Kaung and Hti Hlaing. The rooms for the labs were looking good, but my arse was not feeling so great. After nearly 5 hours of sitting in the bed of a pickup it was time to upgrade. This upgrade included making the trip back from Hti Hlaing to Mandalay on a large boat. John, Ed, Hlyan Nay Win and myself had the boat to ourselves. It was a beautiful trip down the Irrawaddy River and right past the Mingun Pahtodawgyi. The highlight though was catching a rare glimpse of some Irrawaddy dolphins. Although we only saw a few dorsal fins it was still a pleasure to witness. During our short stay in Hti Hlaing I had another experience for the first time. Eating rat. I say “for the first time”, however I should qualify that. For the first time I am aware of. tomorrow we head back to Hti Hlaing and start installing the first computer lab.
The rest of the time here has been spent looking for suppliers of computer equipment, working on the software for the Raspberry Pi’s, eating and sleeping. We have gone through the gamut of food from….well rat to a chicken cordon bleu I had last night. We have found our favourite local haunts and frequent them but are not afraid to try something new. Life is good that way, especially in a strange land. By strange I mean both new and different. Even though I have been here for 2 weeks I am still amazed at how this place functions. Controlled chaos. Well controlled most of the time.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give proper credit for the computer labs we are building on this trip. UR Building Knowledge has been very supportive and have generously donated money for these labs. The school into which the labs will be hereunto installed have been built by 100 Schools. Edwin Hodge has been a tremendous help. As have U Maung Maung Gyi, Kyawt Kyawt and Hylan Nay Win. I would also like to thank two donors whom I have never met. I am not sure if they want their names public, but I will say that we are very Grateful.
I really appreciate all of the support and kind words that have come my way via this blog and social media. Please keep the comments coming and feel free to ask questions. I am here to help. Also you can follow this project on social media. This is the first time I have tried to keep on top of the Tweeters and such, but I am trying.
Huh, will you look at that, they are all @100pilabs. That is good to know. I am also trying to move this blog from WordPress.com to my site joshuadennis.ca. Hopefully the domain will change at some point, but for now it is the domain I have so I am using it. Cheers for now, Josh.