An ex-pat Kiwi’s first weeks in Myanmar



The above  photo, is taken from a place called Saigan – Taken at  the Temple Kuang Mue Dho – looking across other Pergadas to the river Irrawaddy to Mandalay.

My cousin Mary sent this delightfully written account of settling into 2 years in Mandalay and is happy for me to share it with you.

If you have had a bad day read this and be grateful for the many things we take for granted.

We have cleaned / scrubbed/hosed down, 3 of the 4 ensuite bathrooms – still 1 to go plus the guest loo which has the shower as well! – and the showers go all over the floors and loos and – yes – no curtains – we have taken our ensuite for face  and teeth cleaning etc., and one spare room for showering. NO HOT WATER – and it is very cold now – summer time will be OK, but hoping to get the Solar system working when we find a plumber.

Our washing machine is not installed, so I have been hand washing towels etc – did send Mr Bill’s clothing out to a lady around the corner 3 days ago, and I haven’t tackled sheets yet!

I said to Mr. Bill – it is rather like glorified camping/glamping.

Actually – of all the countries & homes we have lived, ( and they have lived in quite a few) this would be the gloomiest, with no character at all – and as it is a Police Generals home, it has tinted windows –


The house..

Mozzie screens and grills over all windows and front door and garage, so it makes it dark – as Mr  Bill was heading downstairs this morning, he said -“Off to open up the Castle” – well  I think it is Fort Knox. he also said “it is like living in a huge bathroom” There are off white tiled walls from the top floor area which is their prayer room, down 3 flights of stairs to the kitchen and store cupboard – we have had the sitting room painted white – and then the bedrooms each have their own pink patterned wallpapers – and the upstairs sitting area – bright yellow with pink flowers – now I do love my colour – but not in this style!

Anyway – the huge carved Teak wood, [honey coloured,] glittered and dirty floral covered thrones and sofa, have gone to be stored in the downstairs bedroom – and we have purchased a black leather – call it vinyl – sofa set. Best we have seen, and we found it up in the hill town of Pyi Oo Lwin, so it had to be trucked down here on Tuesday. I had fortunately bought some cushion covers from my favourite Jim Thompson shop in Bangkok, so I have had them stuffed – now I need some curtains – and I have just seen a modern wool rug in cream,charcoal and grey/brown colours from Belgium,that will add some more coziness to the grey/black/white speckled floor tiles we have throughout the down stairs area – getting the picture??

Have found some gorgeous Palm tree trunks that I have had made into side tables, and as there is a hole in the top of the largest one – Mr Bill was very clever and put the Lazy Susan from the kitchen dining table there, and we have a small dining table or what ever!

I was not going to buy a thing to take home – but those things  will travel – trying not to go overboard with buying goodies,but it is hard when one loves home making.

I have also bought x 2 Mosquito swatter racquets to eliminate the many Mozzies with whom we are sharing our home.

Have just been out shopping with my pet taxi driver Mr. Soe – looking for curtain material – what I have seen is hideous with a capital H – but I did find some bright colours in the market that may be suitable – and then to find someone to make could be tricky. Mr Soe then took me to the carpet shop where I spotted these wool rugs from Belgium – already have 18 rugs in storage in NZ from  life in Pakistan!!

I found a Market with baskets for storage, bought 8 items in total, and for US$15:00 they seemed a bargain – I have had my water play outside on my return with a fabulous high volume hose cleaning them all.

Sadly this house has no garden – just a few steps from street to front door on concrete – 3 stories high.  plenty of room for guests.


The kitchen has no cooking facilities – very dark, but with lights on day and night, we will cope. Have since bought a hot plate and a bench top oven.

While driving around with Mr. Soe, I realise now that the Monsoon season could be rather exciting here – we have had a lot of rain from yesterday mid afternoon until this morning – huge lakes of water in several parts of the city,so drainage is obviously typical of a developing country – as is the mud and muck!  The farmers will be loving the rain.

We have been to December Farm for 2 visits now – the best farm in the area  Mr Bill said. It is in Pyi Oo Lwin in the hills 2 hours drive from here in Mandalay. Refreshing, and the owner has 2 plus acres of area with small animals in enclosures for the public to view, and outdoor dining area under thatched roofed kiosks with loads of lawn and gardens and trees – great food too.

It is wonderful for me if I can make some of these visits with Mr Bill, as it is very lonely when there is no one to talk to!!

I am enjoying it all so far – many challenges, and for Mr Bill also. One thing is getting dosh into the country to run the project – Visa has very limited use, so to use the ATM’s costs us $12:50 to withdraw $300:00 – Hoping it will become easier with time. .Also the lack of Myanmar language is a hindrance at this stage.

No Internet connection in the office or here in the house, but Mr Bill’s office boy has found a SIM card system for us – however it is far more costly than we are used to.

Must go and collect the baskets from the front door before someone else does! Actually – we feel very safe here – we have a Monastery over the road and the Gong goes for almost 2 minutes – [maybe 1,] every morning at 4 AM!! Mmmmmm.

Enough from Mandalay for now  –  I  hope all going well for the silly season that is  rapidly approaching.

new update, washing machine installed and all the white linen is slightly brown as the tan

When I read this I thought good for you Mary.. you are a real intrepid traveller 🙂