Sunday 23rd June 2024

Saturday, 5th January

And talking about large amounts of luggage I already had alerted KMSS about our mega number of suitcases. I had brought seven extra pieces of various sizes with goods to distribute. We literally had to jam in our teaching group of 8 then stack luggage around them when Justin and Stephen arrived right on time to take us on the 95 mile journey which, in the UK, would take around an hour and a half and here takes between four and five. Justin was my superdriver from June who took me everywhere I wanted to go with great humour and grace.

We stopped for breakfast around half way to Pathein, making our way past the garment factories on the outskirts of Yangon with ease today, and to my horror pulled up at a KFC. A KFC in rural Ayeyerwady! Fortunately we were going into the Classic Restaurant next door. A few of us went for the bean paratha with cloves of garlic sliced on top. Lots and lots and lots of garlic, which we were tasting the next morning!

Despite the fact that every time we asked Justin when we would arrive he said in one hour, we arrived in good time for around 11am With all the bags unpacked and the goods for the charity stowed in our room, we headed for our lunch at the corner shop which I had decided was my own in June. Hmmmm. Seems to have changed hands and now no longer sells Myanmar beer but has become a Tiger lager and ABC stout (Archipelago Brewing Company, apparently) establishment. The food was very poor indeed – at least the noodles were – possibly the most disappointing meal I have had in Myanmar. Such a shame.

Afterwards we walked down to the Karen shop to buy something to wear for our unexpected but very welcome planned excursion to Ywar Thit the next day. Some of us bought tops and I in the end went for a scarf, which was just as well. Of that more later.

We walked round the town a little through the market and to the pagoda before returning to the hotel. At 5 we had a planned team building meeting leading on from yesterday and this was fruitful and culminated in us creating a plan for the two weeks and making a kind of pact for the team.

At 7pm, kind of by accident, we had a meal with the team plus friends – Fr Peter, Marcellinus, Assumpta and Stephen (who were unable to join us), Anne and Albert. Just through sheer lack of time, we booked the corner restaurant again and the food was significantly better. However they had not reserved a table for 15 and so Joan and I set about rearranging the restaurant! The food was fine though the ordering was haphazard and it came at very different times.

It was very pleasant to catch up with everyone and Anne and I made plans both to train staff re the prison visit (late next week) and the street children’s refuge visit (Monday night). Anne gave me a beautiful Karen top which she has requested I wear tomorrow. So blessed!

We made a quick raid on the local corner shop for snacks for tomorrow and went to bed to prepare for our 4am start. No time to do prep for lessons but did lay out clothes etc ready to smash and grab tomorrow.