The summer I was 19, I hopped on an airplane and flew to the other side of the world. For ten weeks I had the amazing opportunity to teach English in Yangon, Myanmar. When I say this was the most amazing ten weeks of my life, that doesn’t even begin to go far enough in describing how wonderful and life changing the experience was for me. My students became my friends and my fellow teachers became family.
This morning, I sat down on the couch, under the fan, to cool down from my workout. To keep my mind occupied I flipped on the television and headed straight for the Cooking Channel. I didn’t expect what I saw to bring me to tears.
The show was Luke Nguyen’s Greater Mekong. And for this episode he was traveling around Inle Lake, near Taunggyi in Myanmar.
Towards the end of my summer in Myanmar, one of my students invited a few of us teachers to visit his family in Taunggyi. After eighteen hours on a bus, we arrived and hit the ground running. We dropped our stuff of at his family’s hotel before heading out to breakfast (the best wanton soup in the world). Our next stop was Inle Lake. We spent a full day on the lake and watching this show had me riveted to the screen as the flood of memories overwhelmed my mind.
There before me were the fishermen I remembered so clearly, rowing with one foot and the unique nets that sat on their boats:
Luke cooked in a stilt home, so similar to that of my friend’s family:
Floating along the lake wearing our new hats:
Visiting the pagoda famous for jumping cats:
I still dream of going back. When my dad passed away a few years ago, that dream had to be put on hold for a while. It doesn’t stop me from browsing the ESL job boards from time to time and frequently there are positions advertised for schools in Myanmar. Someday, I hope.
Until then, I’ll hang on to my memories and shows like this one will remind me.