2018 Myanmar Trip
Thursday, February 1
Left SLC at 6:41 am Thursday and made it to Hong Kong at 7:55 pm on Friday; polar route over edge of Greenland and then over eastern Russia and China (16 hrs.)
Friday, February 2
Finally arrived in Myanmar at 11:45 pm Friday night. We were met at the airport by our driver, Tun, and women from the YMCA.
Friday/Saturday, February 3
2:00 am – checked in to Best Western Green Hill Hotel in Yangon. Exchanged dollars to kyats with driver, Tun
1 kyat = 7.5 US cents 75 kyats = about 1 US dollar
Smallest kyat bill is 100
There are no coins in kyats
9:00 am about – met Brent Hale and Bob May for breakfast at hotel
11:00 am about – met with Dr. Win; prepaid our expenses for excursions to the villages to see
our schools and well
Then went to YWCA – left 2 new small laptops for YWCA staff and the 14 refurbished laptop computers for use in classes the YWCA teaches. We took pictures of a class using the computers.
Bought 5 little bags at their consignment store – 5000 kyats each
Went to Dagon shopping mall (original) – Bought 4 Tiger’s eye bead bracelets; and 6 little
zipper purses that were 3500 kyats each
Went to Shwedagon Pagoda – 10,000 kyats each
Relics include 8 hairs of Prince Siddhartha; apex – 78 carat diamond under the pagoda
About 7:00 pm - Dinner with driver, Tun, and his wife at Pizza Hut
Journal - Keith – February 2-3, Yangon, Myanmar
“Arrived at midnight, February 2, after 29 hours of travel from SLC, Utah through Chicago and
Hong Kong. Showered and got to bed at about 2:30 am in the morning of February 3.”
“Visited with Dr. Win of the Community Development Agency (CDA) of Myanmar and prepaid our expenses with him.”
“While with him I decided to commit to him the money for 5 new schools.”
“Had lunch and visited with the YWCA leaders of Myanmar. Discussed their very unique and successful
microfinance program. We (the Trust) committed to put it back on our list of projects we will
consider contributing to.”
“Visited the largest Buddhist shrine in Myanmar.” – Shwedagon Pagoda
Sunday, February 4
Keith said he’d only slept about 6 hours. That he woke with a headache; took some meds but got to thinking and did not go back to sleep. He felt like he should commit to fund $3,000 for the YMCA microfinance project of YMCA.
10:00 – Church at Yangon Branch
Met senior missionary couple from Prescott, Arizona – Elder Chris and Sister Julia Doyle
Met Bro. Tun Naing, who is currently translating the Book of Mormon into Burmese. Clarence baptized him about 10 years ago while he and Jayne were on their mission.
Met Zaw Hein who lost his leg in a military accident several years ago.
After church went to the home of Zaw Hein to talk to him and to see about needed additional repairs to his home and motorbike (handicap)
Lunch/dinner at Miami Grill – elders recommended
Monday, February 5
6:00 - Breakfast at hotel
6:30 – Left for Pyay. Pyay is principal town of Pyay Township in the Bago Division (West) about 160 miles northwest of Yangon.
Stopped at World War II British Cemetery and Memorial (Taukkyan War Cemetery) 16 miles north of Yangon on Pyay Road.
Drove to Pyay area (about 9 hours); then went to village – Kone Gyi. Near Hinthada and Monyo Township. Win, project manager, went with us; also to Pyapon and Kyauktan.
We drove as far as we could on a dirt road, then we met up with motorbikes or oxcarts – our choice - chose oxcarts. After about 1-2 miles we arrived at Kone Gyi where a well was drilled. (About 5 days before we left SLC Dr. Win sent an email that said the well may not be completed when we got there because they went down 600 feet and hadn’t found any water; they were in the process of deciding whether to move to another location. Clarence told Dr. Win we still wanted to go to the village and the hope was to at least get a picture of Jason holding the sign ‘Matt McFarland’s Well.’) When we got there, we learned they had moved to another location and found water at 200 feet. This happened 2 days before we arrived. We were very happy to the water flowing and Jason was able to show people the sign that will be attached to the well when it is finished with cement around it and a roof. They also had a Buddhist monk give
a dedicatory prayer.
A teacher from a nearby village, probably in Paungde Township wanted us to see his school so we got on motorbikes and rode for a while to his school. I think he had called ahead so the faculty was waiting for us. He wanted to see if we could drill a well for the school since the current well didn’t provide safe water to drink. (Win said no) Rode motorbikes back to van and drove to Pyay.
Stayed overnight in Pyay at Lucky Dragon Hotel, No. 772 Strand Road, Sandaw Quarter, Pyay
Brent walked a short distance to take photos by river and when he came back
he discovered he had been pickpocketed and lost his phone and debit and credit cards.
Had late dinner
Tuesday, February 6
Stopped at police headquarters so Brent could report loss.
Drove to school (#1) at Shwe Twin Tue village (which we think is near Oke Shit Pin-it was on Keith’s iphone locator) Padaung Township, Bago Division (West); had a program (presented picture of Jared) and lunch 10:30-12:30; also saw new well and bathroom installed by LDS Charities; a teacher told me ‘thank you very much’
Then we drove to see a school built last year in Khit Hme Kyaung village near the
Ayeyarwady River. (It wasn’t finished in time for Clarence and Jayne to see it during Feb 2017 trip.) Kids were in class. We visited them briefly and Jason handed out school art supplies that his wife had prepared. This school was larger and had about 3 classrooms. Also, nearby was the old school which is still there.
Then drove to look at a possible new school because old school is prone to flooding. We saw 2 or 3 classes that were in session. One of the teachers showed us the high water mark on the wall inside the school. There was a decaying pagoda in front. Clarence doesn’t know name of village.
Drove to catch a boat ride (probably at Tonbo on Ayeyarwady River which begins in the Himalayas); saw more than 300 Buddha images that are carved in the river bank (Akauk Taung).
Returned to Pyay; stopped at police headquarters again.
Then we drove on a VERY rough road (Brent and Bob got carsick towards the end and, also the
driver got lost for a bit) to Bago Yoma Eco Resort – Pauk Khaung Township, Pyay District, Bago Division (West); got there very late – about 10:00 pm?
The resort is located near an elephant camp but it wasn’t operating when we were there.
Wednesday, February 7
Had breakfast at resort; took a walk around resort, saw a garden; picked some bananas
Left resort about noon; decided to take road back to Pyay (2 hrs) instead of going 4 hours on dirt road to reach a major highway then back to Yangon.
Stopped at World Heritage site – Pyu ancient city – Sre Ksetra,(5 miles SE of Pyay on the left bank of the Ayeyarwady River and about 180 miles northwest of Yangon, near Hmawza)
Had lunch in Pyay about 4:00 pm – Prome Garden Saloon and Restaurant – Bogyoke Road, Pyay
Arrived back to Green Hill Hotel about 10:30 pm
Thursday, February 8
Had early breakfast at hotel
YMCA picked us up at 7:30 am
Went to 2 villages to see micro-finance groups, north of Yangon, (Clarence doesn’t know names)
Bought 5 clothing items for 20,000 kyats from one of the women to had a micro-finance
sewing business. We visited a micro-financed small pig farm. (Woman’s husband died about a
year ago from tuberculosis. And we visited a micro-financed small turkey farm. Both women were pleased to be able to show us what they have done. Also saw a roadside stand/store that was a microfinance business. One of the things that was sold was a sugar cane drink made from crushed sugar cane. We had a sample – very sweet! One young woman had a photo poster
business that she had in this same roadside stand/store. Everyone was so pleased to be able to
show us what they were doing.
Stopped for lunch – Khaing Khaing Kyaw – Myanmar traditional food center
Went back to hotel – had a shampoo at a nearby spa, Signature Spa? – 24,000 kyats
Dinner at hotel
Friday, February 9
Breakfast at hotel; left about 8:00 am?
Drove with Dr. Win and Win, project manager, to new school #2 in Kyauktan Township , in southern Yangon Division.
Dr. Win stopped to buy us some fish soup at a place he considered had the best fish soup.
(Mohinga (fish soup) is Myanmar national dish) but no one wanted any since we just had
On way to school on a very bumpy and winding road, we saw stacks of bricks that were just made and ready to sell.
As we arrived at school, someone mentioned that the village had combined our visit with another celebration (was to be day before) that included a lot of food.
We got there a little early so they weren’t quite ready for us.
But soon (9:30 or 10 am?) they sat us down for breakfast which was fish soup, rice and condiments.
We moved over for program and in front of us were tables of fruit and other snacks.
After program Dr. Win said to us “We’ve got a problem ……. Now it is lunch.”
Then we moved back to tables and had lunch – rice, various meat accompaniments, etc.
By 11:30 am we had had 3 meals plus fruit.
When left village we got high-centered on some sand.
Drove to another school that they wanted to replace with a bigger school. There was a class in session when we were as we visited in the front of the classroom with some teachers and a township official that was at the new school we visited that morning. We sat at tables and were served cookies and water. We had a discussion with the teachers and Dr. Win. We asked for the what percent of kids that enter elementary school graduated from high school, and Dr. Win said that in Myanmar the emphasis isn’t on getting kids through high school, but on giving them a good foundation in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Only those with a scholarly inclination go on to middle school and high school. But those kids who don’t go on become the village leaders, etc. (*Was this said at this village. I remember hearing it somewhere.) They showed us a picture of a school on some dirt country road miles away, and Clarence asked why we were sitting in a pretty good school instead of going to that very dilapidated structure.
While we were talking, Bob showed some kids the world globe and showed them where he lived.
After we left we stopped at a monastery and looked around.
Dropped Dr. Win off at his house.
Light dinner @ hotel. Jayne and I had strawberry milkshakes which is what probably made us sick.
Saturday, February 10
Breakfast at hotel; planned to leave at 9:00 am but didn’t leave until noon because
I got diarrhea at 2:00 am. Jayne also got sick during the night.
Lunch at hotel
Noon – Win went with us and we drove to Pyapon Township, Pyapon Districit, Ayeyarwady Division along the Pyapon River 75 miles south of Yangon. It is a center for collecting rice from surrounding area.
I got carsick on way.
Stayed at Aung Naing Thu Motel, no. 3 Natsinnaung Road, Quarter Pyapon
Had dinner at Selection II Cold and Food
Saw from hotel parking a Chinese New Year celebration including a dragon.
Sunday, February 11
Keith woke up with as astounding number of bites on neck, head, face, arms;
Determined later to be gnat bites.
6:30 – breakfast at hotel
Before we left Keith asked for a new room.
Drove to see new Buddhist school (#3) in village of Manila Sein Ma which is near ocean.
Drove on beach for a while – much smoother road.
This is a Buddhist school so we took our shoes off in van and walked to bowery where
the program was to be held. Sat on front row and enjoyed prepared fruit and snacks.
Little girls in yellow costumes danced.
Keith presented picture of Jared and talked about Jared; told about his creed.
Then we walked to the new school and took pictures. Desks had small signs that read
Then we had lunch in the monks’ living area.
Then we moved to another table and had prepared fruit.
Then we went to village and took a boat trip (1 ½ hrs; sitting on bottom of boat with legs straight out in front touching other side of boat) to a river village – Nga Dan Sae - to see where a school is needed. Women had prepared a fresh seafood buffet with rice – i.e., fresh fish, crab in shell, shrimp in shell were delicious.
The children were so cute. Everyone gave us a fond farewell.
We got back in boat for 1 ½ hour trip back to van. (Clarence found Jayne a chair so she didn’t have to sit on bottom of boat for tip back.) We then stopped at the Buddhist school and used the bathroom. Then we drove back to Pyapon.
Had dinner at Selections II Cold and Food.
By now my gnat bites appeared and were swollen, inflamed and very itchy. Looked like large
mosquito bites. Put cortisone cream on. It didn’t help.
Brent had Bogale pinpointed on his iphone locator (as a place we were near) which is west of Pyapon. Bogale Township has 589 villages. During the 2008 cyclone 36,325 people died.
Monday, February 12
7:30 breakfast at hotel
Went to ‘wet market’ in Pyapon
Left to go back to Yangon. Used Bob’s After Bite stuff – got a little relief.
Lunch – probably in Kambe; Jason asked for most popular dish and got bat.
Stopped in Twanti to see pottery places. Saw a place where pottery water filters are made.
4:00 stopped at 1 Stop Mart, very close to hotel and bought some candy– 8,050 kyats
U Phoe Sein Street
5 pkg peanut crisps 5000; 2 pkg soft candy – corn/mango 800;
3 pkg Hart Beat candy (for school kids) - 2250
Back to hotel.
Tun and a taxi picked us up for dinner.
Dinner – Cafes Dibar, Com’e Buona La Pasta Italiana! Pasta Pizza Salad – Kabar Aye Pagoda Road,
Yangon with driver, Tun.
Keith had a strawberry milkshake, probably a big mistake.
Tuesday, February 13
Keith woke up about 2:00 am with diarrhea and vomiting
Breakfast at hotel
Met Dr. Win at airport
Morning flight to Mandalay – Myanmar Airline
Stopped at Mandalay Hotel No. 652, 78th Road Between 37th & 38th St, HayMaMarlar Taung Qtr
Than left for school.
Dr. Win stopped and got Keith some imodium plus and electrolyte powder to mix in water
At some point, Win (project manager) got Keith some chicken soup to have for lunch.
On the way to school saw fields of watermelon and many places where marble is carved.
Went to see new Madaya Township school (#4) in village Ma Da Yar which is near a river. Madaya is in the Mandalay Division of central Myanmar. The Mandaya River in the area is connected to the Mandalay Canal. The Burmese word for marble is sagyin. Mountain range consists of 7 hills – four to the north and three to the south of village. It is named Sagyin Hill because it is near Sagyin village. (21 miles north of Mandalay) Sagyin Hill is an offshoot of Mountain of Mogok, the world’s best ruby land. There are also ruby mines in Sagyin Hill. The marble blocks are carved in Buddha images and sent to Buddhist monasteries all around Burma.
Village served us lunch at school. (Dr. Win said something about it being catered?)
Enjoyed a very good program. Lots of dancing by students. Jared Prescott School sign on school was carved in white marble. The setting of the school is beautiful. This school also had Jared
Prescott signs on student desk/tables.
Afterwards we stopped at a marble sculpting village – probably Sagyin; bought a marble turtle.
Drove to see a potential school site – VERY rough roads (caused van some damage) – in or near village of Myo Kone. The school had a dirt floor. Jayne and I stayed in van because we were tired. Dr. Win also stayed behind because he thought it would save time. We didn’t get there until 5;30 but school children and teachers were still waiting for us. Also, there is an easier way into this village but went the shortest but hardest way from Sagyin.
Dinner at a place near hotel that Dr. Win had heard of–around corner left of hotel -Café House?
After dinner walked back to hotel – I saw a rat that was across the street
Wednesday, February 14
Tun Tun, project manager, was with us in Mandalay.
7:30 breakfast at hotel; gave back to Bob his After Bite
11:00 am - Bob and Brent left
Lunch then went shopping- found wooden elephants (Keith - $35, Ian plus one $25 each,;
jade bead bracelets – granddaughters – 6 @ $2; grandsons (tiger’s eye) bead bracelets 5 @ $5; jade bead bracelets - daughters 4 @ $8; jade bead bracelet – me $10 (I probably got a group
discount on the 4 bracelets because I bought them a few minutes later)
Saw U Bein Bridge - oldest and longest (3/4 mile) teak walking bridge in the world – spans Taung Tha Man Lake near Amarappura; built around 1850; very busy in July and August when lake
is at its highest. Major tourist attraction and major source of income for souvenir sellers.
Went to Su Taung Pyae Pagoda – 1000 kyats each
saw a nice view of Mandalay but we were unable to see sunset because of cloud cover
Dinner at KFC
Thursday, February 15
6:30 breakfast at hotel
7:00 left for Monywa touring; supposed to be 2 hours away but was 4 hours and 50 min
Finally reached Phowintaung Caves (Mountain of Isolated Solitary Meditation) 25 kilometers west of Monywa and 10 kilometers southeast of Yinmabin, in Yinmabin Township, Monywa District, Sagaing Division, northern Myanmar, western bank of the Chindwin River. Buddhist site dated to between 14th and 18th centuries; also saw a bunch of monkeys. Had very late lunch at Chindwin View Restaurant–Myanmar/Chinese Foods–Aung Zaya Myothit, Shwe Taung Oo, Monywa. Then saw Maha Bodhi Ta Htaung - 33-story shiny gold Buddha (finished 1960) and also reclining Buddha; Maha Bodhi Ta Htaung is a famous Buddhist region and monastery located in Monywa Township, Sagaing Division. It is famous for the Giant Standing Buddha statue, the second tallest in the world, and for the Great Atitudes of U Narada, who built the
Went back to hotel about 7:00– 12 hours!
Friday, February 16
9:00 - breakfast at hotel
Went shopping for fabrics, wood elephants – 2 @ $25
2:00 – lunch at pizza place – Central Park 66th St – 49,500 kyats
Hotel - rested
6:30– dinner - Central Park
Last time slept in a bed until we got home
Saturday, February 17
Keith sick again, didn’t eat breakfast
9:10 flight back to Yangon; Tun Tun stayed in Mandalay to meet with U.S. doctors who were
coming on Monday. They were coming to give training.
11:30 met with Dr. Win
Shower, pack, rested
About 4:30 – foot massage – 22,000 kyats – Signature Spa?
6:30 – met with YWCA women in lobby to fund more microfinance
Dinner at hotel
10:30 pm – left for airport
Sunday, February 18
1:05 am – flight to Hong Kong Cathay Dragon
5:25 am – arrive in Hong Kong
Breakfast at McDonald’s
7:30 am – met driver for 7-hour tour of Hong Kong; included Peak Tram and lunch (Dim Sum
with a fresh grouper fish from a nearby market that restaurant prepared for us.
About 2:00 pm – driver took us back to airport
4:35 pm – flight to LA – Cathay Pacific
1:00 pm – arrive in LA
Went through the amazing maze of US Customs
4:50 pm – left LA – Skywest
About 6:30 pm – arrive in SLC – It was 50 hours since leaving Mandalay.
Stopped at McDonald’s for a hamburger and chocolate milk