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  1. #1
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    Simon43's Avatar
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    Weekend trip to Inle Lake, Taunggyi and Kalaw hill station

    I had some spare time late last week - (Myanmar public holiday). I had planned to visit some of the orphanages near to Inle Lake and assess the long-term educational needs of the children, as well as to donate teaching resources and English/Myanmar story-books.

    (This is an ongoing project that I do in my spare time for orphanages that are within reach on my dirt-bike. It is basically a 'karma' thing for me and increasing my odds of reaching heaven or hell when the day comes - I hear that hell is more fun, what with all the drunken orgies etc...)

    The hill road between Naypyidaw and Inle Lake reaches an altitude of 5,000 feet.



    There are two hill ranges, and the road drops down to a small village by the lakes that you see in the first photo - the lakes were created by the Paung Laung dam. Time for a hot coffee 'cos it is cold in them there hills.



    At Inle Lake, there is an orphanage just for boys, cared for by an old monk. This was my first visit to this orphanage and I was able to assess what teaching resources they already had (in pedagogical parlance, this value is referred to as 'fcuk all'). So lots for me to do there.



    The second stop was in the nearby town of Taunggyi (capital town of Shan State), where I made a return visit to a home for disabled kids and adults. They are cared for by several nuns and it's a very happy place, despite many of the children being mentally and physically disabled (20 teen girls all in wheelchairs 'cos of polio). An Italian charity is working with me to pay for a playground and I'm donating upper-body physiotherapy equipment, such as small dumb-bells and springs to strengthen muscles.

    Then it was over to the hill-top town of Kalaw. On the way I saw a train! I had seen the rusty and overgrown narrow gauge rail track on many occasions before, but I thought it was disused.....



    At Kalaw, there is a small convent orphanage for about 24 girls. This was my first visit to that home and story books and games etc were donated. I chatted with the nun who explained to me the long-term educational needs of the girls, and I'll be making a return trip with more supplies.

    All of these orphanages - even the one at touristy Inle Lake very rarely receive any visitors or donations, apart from locals who donate food and clothes. My efforts are for the long-term teaching of spoken English to the kids. If they are able to speak good English by the time they reach 18 years old, then they stand a much better chance of going to college or getting a job. But each orphanage and kids are different in their English abilities etc, and so I have to plan for each home.

    Right now, I have plans in place for 5 orphanages, and I'm due to visit another 3 next week in Kayah State. (Sadly, there are literally hundreds of orphanages in Myanmar, with 10's of thousands of orphans or abandoned kids).

    But the kids are all happy and smiling (I haven't uploaded photos of the children for privacy reasons).

    Anyway, my bum is really sore now (no, I didn't meet some well-endowed ladyboy in Taunggyi, the long hours on my bike on the bumpy hill road is the culprit!).
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    Groping women when you're old is fine - everyone thinks you're senile

  2. #2
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    beerlaodrinker's Avatar
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    You've got a heart of gold Simon. Some good karma is surely coming your way. Glad to see you've given up building hotels for un appreciative whores. Now if you could just get that ham radio licence hmm.. on ya dude. Keep it up

  3. #3
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    Phuketrichard's Avatar
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    when went to Inle lake in the late 90's, loved it
    when i was there in April this year, couldn't wait to get out
    the MOST commercialized place i have been to in Myanmar and the only place ur hassled (for boat trips)
    PLUS the only place i have seen so many back packers in such a small area all enjoying a happy hour.
    BUT those 1,500 kyat Large Mandalay beers are good if there ice cold. :-)

    Simon; nice to see ur giving forwards..


    Right now, I have plans in place for 5 orphanages, and I'm due to visit another 3 next week in Kayah State. (Sadly, there are literally hundreds of orphanages in Myanmar, with 10's of thousands of orphans or abandoned kids).
    Curious, are they really orphans/abandoned kids OR are they like Cambodia , kids that the parents can not afford to take care of?
    "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol or insanity, but they've always worked for me" HST

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  4. #4
    Thailand Expat reinvented's Avatar
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    nice pics
    I'm doing some work with a company at Inle, i'm hoping for atrip up there before the end of the year
    thanks for the guide and beer suggestions

  5. #5
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    GracelessFawn's Avatar
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    Wow.... Nice pics Simon. I was instantly calmed and felt relax.

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat
    Simon43's Avatar
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    Curious, are they really orphans/abandoned kids OR are they like Cambodia , kids that the parents can not afford to take care of?
    According to UNICEF, about 70% of the kids in the Myanmar orphanages/children's homes are NOT orphans. But their parent(s) are too destitute to provide them with basic food/clothes/education. UNICEF prefers such children to live with their parents or a family member, rather than being in a home.

    But let's be realistic here - that is not going to happen unless there is a paradigm shift in the income of the majority of the Myanmar rural folk who rely on subsistence farming.

    The important difference between Cambodia and Myanmar orphanages is that the latter seem to be very genuine, often established for many years and supported by the local community with daily donations of food etc. The homes tend to be run either by Buddhist monks or by (in the eastern States of Shan/Kayah) Christian nuns. It seems that there are (as yet) few exploitative owners of private homes, but that will probably change as more foreign tourists visit the country.

    Note that in no way do I support short-term voluntourism, where gap-year students do a week of volunteering in an orphanage just to get this on their CV. No good for the kids at all.


    There are a whole host of reasons why I do this sort of voluntary work.

    The most basic is because there is buggar-all to do in Naypyidaw and this gives me an excuse to ride my dirt-bike to some really interesting places.

    The second is more profound, and has to do with some very bad experiences that I had in Thailand with crazy ex-wife #2. I went from a dollar millionaire to relying on hand-outs from friends for food. That experience of going from 'the top' to 'the bottom' totally changed my outlook on life. I realised that spending $10 on a rich person wouldn't change their life one iota. But spending $10 on a destitute person could make a real difference to their life, (give a man a fishing net etc etc)

    As an absent father of 4 kids, it hurts me to see so many children who face a rather bleak future, but whose lives could be changed in a positive direction if they could learn to speak good conversational English. It really can open up college and job opportunities for them (think hotel staff, restaurant staff, taxi driver, tour guide etc). So my efforts are not intended to be an overnight success, but a slow and patient effort to help these kids to improve their spoken English.

    I'm actually back in Inle Lake next weekend (3 days 'cos there's a national holiday on Monday). I have a cunning marketing plan in progress to drum up donations.....).

    @beerlaodrinker, the story has been the same with all 3 wives. Without them, I seem to have financial success and peace of mind. with them, the money all goes and I'm stressed out. Been single for about 5 years now and when I was run out of Phuket last year, it also meant I dropped contact with mad ex #2. Happy days!!

    There is even some candle light on the horizon for my radio licence. The only thing I crave (in lieu of a wife/GF) is a hot Burmese hooker. My efforts to secure this in Naypyidaw have met with looks of shock from the few local males that I am acquainted with. Perhaps I could import one???

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