Solar Impulse ii in Myanmar

Exciting times we live in!

My Swiss colleague is excited for sure, about the arrival of Solar Impulse II in Mandalay next month.

Powered only by solar energy, Solar Impulse II will fly across the world with the management of two Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, stopping by Myanmar on March 10th, reportedly along with their 70-person strong team who will arrive early and ensure a safe landing. A feat and a scale of coordination with the Ministry, President’s Office and private sponsors, unthinkable just a few years back.

The duo will begin and end their journey in Abu Dhabi, stopping ten times along the way. Having landed in Mandalay before on a balloon, they want to come back again to Mandalay, the third stop during this pioneering journey.

This is just the coolest thing ever happening in Yangon, and I’m not saying this just because I’m affiliated with the sponsors of the event (disclaimer). A lot of people use money to accumulate materials. The Piccard family, in line with their familial tradition, uses their material privileges to do something inspiring to so many others.

Yay for solar!

Passive Aggressive Reminders – The GoodReads Way

Thank You GoodReads

Sure, GoodReads

When I was in high school, my beautiful 24-year-old Vietnamese-American teacher volunteering at school lamented how she managed to read only two books the entire year she was teaching us.

Now it is our turn (or is it just me?) to lament.

Like a lot of my peers, I keep track of my reading situation through sites like GoodReads. It seems we compartmentalize our lives digitally through one app or another. GoodReads works wonders, because it tells me exactly how I am doing with my reading goals and dissects which genres I tend to focus on. It’s like Mint for reading.

Don’t feel arr-nar-dah, GoodReads. Just give it to me straight: My efforts on reading leisurely have basically crashed and burned…

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Protect Your Saturdays! Starting with Wa Ma Ma at MyLan

Content in this post happened exactly 21 days ago, which means the publication of this post is considered already ancient. That was also my last full Yangon weekend untainted with work responsibilities – a trend that has accelerated since the announcement of a deal back in October 2014, which is also reflected in the declining number of posts ever since.

This has to change.

No matter how crazy work gets, I am going to have to draw my line at sacred Saturdays, to practice the art of doing nothing. Idling. Staying in my PJs and not brushing my teeth till 5 o’clock in the evening. To remember still how to write, a skill that has grown rusty since joining the corporate world. Hang out at my hammock. Send obscene WhatsApp texts to faraway friends. You know.

Therefore, I can hardly think of a better way to consummate this new personal campaign – “Protect Saturdays!” – than this post on discovering a new Wa Restaurant in Yangon.

Yangon has changed dramatically in the two years I have been back. This was my first time tasting Wa cuisine, which was made possible only because I had been wandering around in MyLan Food Fair (What is that?! This was unheard of circa 2012!). The moment we saw the sign “Wa Ma Ma Restaurant,” we knew we had to try, and I’ll tell you why.

Wa people make a distinct cultural and ethnic group residing in the mountainous Northern part of Shan State, Myanmar, with their own autonomous territory. Rumor has it Wa people practice cannibalism. Back in my middle school days, a new student supposedly the son of some big shot in the Wa administration joined our class, which sparked mixtures of wonder, awe and terror in the minds of 12-year-old Yangonites. In Pascal Khoo Thwe’s memoir, “From the Land of Green Ghosts,” he wrote about how Wa interrogators will force information out of captured spies with threats of … eating them! Efficient.

The best value deal is the “Daung Lan” to share, priced at 10,000 MMK (US$10) for a group of four or five, depending on their eating capacities. Daung Lans are a rare thing now, seen only at the National Museum and now Wa Ma Ma Restaurant. It is said that back in our ancestors’ day in 1800s, families eat together from one gigantic single plate, undeterred by the probability of spreading germs even in the days when penicillin was unheard of. Can you even imagine?

Wa Ma Ma, however, has a modern twist, asking us to wear plastic gloves and giving us individual plates to eat out of the larger Daung Lan. An order of Daung Lan comes with jasmine rice, brown glutinous rice, grilled pork neck, chicken with basil, bamboo shoots, and cucumber salad. If you are scared of hot and spicy food, this is not for you.

I make zero commission from this post, but book a table now at 09 49 44 55 22!

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Daung Lan

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Eating with hands a must…

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Two ladies from “Wa Ma Ma”