Dannielle Letters from Myanmar

2007


Okay, you didn't think that last, very short, email would get you out of hearing about the trip to Bangkok did you????? We flew in on Thursday morning and had to be at the airport at 5 a.m. in order to do so. I was a little tired on Thursday when I wrote the email. Wasn't feeling very creative....Was feeling very sleepy!
As we were buying mom's ticket out of Myanmar, we realized that the plane didn't fly out of Myanmar on Thursday so she was going to have to fly out on Wednesday, get a hotel to spend the night and leave from Bangkok on Thursday. So we decided to fly over with her and spend the day. It's about a 45 minute flight. We left really early on Wednesday morning, got to Bangkok really early on Wednesday and spent the rest of the day seeing the sites then flew out of Bangkok really early
on Thursday morning. It was a lot of fun!
As the plane landed, the first thing I spotted was an interstate system. ROADS...it has been a really long time since I've seen an interstate. That was my first clue that I had just flown straight back into civilization. They let us off of the plane, we got into the taxi and after checking into our room we made a B-line for McDonald's.
A Big Mac was calling my name but after looking at the menu overhead I had a real hard time choosing between the Big Mac and the McRice Burger!!! ha ha
After much deliberation, I found myself leaning a little more toward the Big Mac. ONLY IN ASIA!!! McRice Burger??? YUCK!! No wonder these people are so skinny!!! I'll bet they don't even supersize!!
The city was a little like Yangon. There were food carts set up all along the streets selling the bird flu, I mean chicken and pork. There were tables all along the streets selling souvenirs. Clothes, purses, jewelry, sunglasses, books, just about anything you could think of. The difference between Bangkok and Yangon was that the stores sitting directly behind the street vendors were nice department stores, hotels and restaurants. I saw KFC, Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut, Starbucks,
and Dunkin Doughnuts. I wanted to eat at all of them but time just wouldn't allow.
We took a tour of the city on a Tuk Tuk. This is a motorcycle type cart with a backseat for two or three, depending if you're American or a skinny Asian. David and the kids took one and mom and I rode directly behind them in another one. The traffic in Bangkok is dangerous to say the least. People drive much faster there (compared to Yangon) and in every direction. I thought Yangon was bad until I went to Bangkok. After about an hour and pulling out in front of three large city buses at rapid speeds, I decided that my kids were not very safe. So we had them take us back to the hotel. It was fun but I was glad it was over!! I didn't want Dorahighschool.com to read "Tuk Tuk Tragedy in Thailand!" ha ha
After our ride and Zoe's quick nap, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. The table cloth, the menu, the Coke that was brought to my table WITH ICE, and Areosmith singing in English....Well, it made me forget for a brief moment in time that I'm living in a third world country!!! It was a good time!!! Wish you all could have been there!!
The wake up call was for 4:30 a.m. and since Bangkok is 30 minutes ahead of Yangon, the phone rang at 4:00 a.m. The new Bangkok airport opened September 28, 2006. The new airport is beautiful and I'm glad I got to see it. There are many places to eat and shop there. Would have liked to have had more time but the plane was waiting. We left civilization at 7:00 a.m. It was a great trip....
For those of you who were fortunate enough to go to Dora High School a few years back, there was a lady named Ms. Strickland who taught everyone who stepped through the doors. If I had to describe her in one word that word would be "unforgetable"! Although, she probably wouldn't want to claim me as her student after seeing the grammar in these emails!!! Anyway, about a month before I left coming over here, she called me at home one night. I hadn't talked with her in
at least 16 years but she called me up one night. She had heard through the community that I was headed this way. She wanted me to know to visit Bangkok. She is a traveler and assured me it was a stop that I needed to make. I'm happy she made that phone call, I'm glad that I went to Bangkok, I wish I would have had more time there, and I would highly recommend the stop to anyone!!! It was a great place to see...
Have a good week....We have 20 days left......Tomorrow we will be into the teens!!! I didn't think I would ever be able to say that...
I have two suitcases completely full....packed all the way!!! I'm gettin' ready!!! I can hardly wait!!!
Dannielle

Letters from Myanmar ~ Heading Home Soon
This has been a weekend not really worth mentioning! Friday night we had spagetti, Saturday night we went to L'Opra and had dinner, and today (Sunday) is David's Sunday to work. The kids and I swam yesterday and we have swam today! Not a whole lot to write about!
However, there is a bit of news! I've been knowing about this news for about three weeks but had to kinda keep it under wraps until we knew what was going down
for sure! David has a new job in Bham and he starts Dec 1!!! So we will be coming home a little early. We've known about the job for a while now. The man in
Bham that hired David knew David through a previous employer and tracked David down here when the position at his company came available. David and
the new company talked via telephone and emails and they hired David starting Dec 1
The problem we've been facing is how to get out of here with as little conflict as possible and preferably with a completion bonus! David has been looking for the right time to tell the boss that he quits. This week he found the right time.
But you all know the boss, I've made mention of him before in my emails! Our plan was for David to work until Nov 15 then for us to fly home, David rest a day or two, and start the new job on Dec 1....Good plan huh?? Yeah, that's not gonna happen! David told the boss that he was moving back home and that he had another job. The boss was better than expected so that was good. The catch is, he will not give david the completion bonus unless david works until Nov 25! I tried not to
get my hopes up but I kinda had it in my head that I might be home for Thanksgiving! This isn't gonna happen. Technically, with David quitting Steve has no obligation to give David his completion bonus and could make us pay for our plane tickets home. The negotiation was that the company would pay but we have to stay until Nov 25. So the news is...we will be home a couple of weeks earlier than first expected. I can't give you an exact date just yet because we don't actually have
our tickets yet. The company is working on getting them but the week of Thanksgiving, as you can imagine, is a little hard to get a flight out with this short of notice!
I'll let you all know the exact date when I know!! Because of jet lag issues and David straight back to work, we need that flight as close to the 25th as possible!! I'll let you know when I know!! You all will just have to save me some dressing and cranberry sauce and pecan pie!! I'll eat the left overs! Can't wait!
Mom gets here on Thursday night (your thursday morning)! We cannot wait! Zach is beside himself...He says he hasn't seen her in a month!!! ha ha We've got big plans for her. Friday night is Mexican Night at the American Club!!! We'll let her sleep and rest on Friday but by 6 she's gotta be up and ready to eat some tacos!!!
There's just nothing like americans eating mexican in burma!!! Everyone needs to experience it at least once!!!
Hope you all have a good week!!! Sorry the emails have been slack...I'll try to work on it!!! Dannielle

Hello everyone! I have big news...It hasn't rained in 3 days! Not a single drop. I don't think it has gone three days in a row without raining since I arrived in Myanmar. An old man who works down at the jobsite told some of the guys that there would be one more monsoon and the rainy season would be over. The rainy season doesn't usually come to an end until around the end of October, however, this year the old and wise people have said that the rainy season is most likely going to end early because of the extensive amounts of rain we have already received. That's good news. I know these people need the rain because of the rice they grow but I'm sick of it. It's ironic that the states have had an unusually dry summer this year and I come here and have been in the middle of an unusually wet rainy season! Sure wish I could have sent you all a day or so of the rain I've seen!
On Tuesday, a little brown note was slid under my door here at the apartment. That's how we get stuff, they slide it under our door. It was written in Burmese all but my name and the date. I asked Jennifer to translate. Best I could understand, she said I had a parcel that needed to be picked up. She said I had to go downtown to their parcel pick up to get it. They don't call it a post office and I don't really know what they call it. I've asked several people but no one gives me an answer. It's just the place people go to pick up parcels. On Wednesday, I called the jobsite and had Charlie come pick me up. We got down there and the parcel pick up place closes at 2:00. So we went back on Thursday. It took about 30 minutes to get my package which, from what I understand, is record time. Most of the time, it takes hours to pick up a package. It was picking this parcel up that got me to thinking. There is absolutely positively no technology here. No high tech scanners, no little electronic box that you sign your name on with the special pen, no ATM/bank card slider boxes, no finger print scanners, no iris scanners, no computers....just mounds of paperwork and people taking care of business. It's amazing to me that a country can still operate in this manner. It's amazing to me that I get to kinda go back in time and see how things used to be done in the US before technology took over. I get to see the things that our mom's and dad's have told us about. The way things were back when they were my age. This experience has given me a small glimpse back in time! It made me laugh...I just sat there and thought to myself..if you all could understand southern I could probably show you a better way to get this done.
They had rubber stamps and ink pads and holy cow, if they stamped my paperwork once, they stamped it 50 times. And they didn't just stamp the paperwork, they stamped it with force. They were happy to be stamping. I think stamping made them feel important. I cannot really put into words the stamping that went on in this one building. Everyone was stamping something. I couldn't read what was stamped as the stamps were all burmese but I just know it was most important stuff. I, of course, had to sign my name bunches of times, sometimes near the stamped areas, being careful not to get my hand too close to the stamping process. At one point, the man flipped the paperwork over, stamped it with two seperate stamps and then told Charlie to tell me to sign above each stamp. Two times on the back of the same paper. I thought to myself, wouldn't one signature suffice but who am I to question the procedure.
So I began to sign my name. On the second signature on the same side of the same paper, I began to sign my name.
I got as far as Dannielle and he stopped me...said it was too long!!! WHAT??? I'll tell you, if I ever come back to Myanmar I'll be sure to bring a "stamp" with my name on it! Then instead of signing, I too would be able to stamp and maybe that wouldn't take as long!!! Now see, you all go to the post office regularly and don't have near as much fun as I have had going to this post office. I'll bet no one even stamped a thing and if you did get something stamped, I'll be they didn't slam that stamp down in the ink pad 3 times before you got that stamp!!!
If Charlie had not been with me, I don't know what I would have done!!! Most days, I couldn't function around here without him. I can't express to you what a blessing he has been for the weldon's (especially me)! AND incase you are wondering, I have Kim Kyle to thank for my postal experience here in Myanmar...she sent us "missing you" cards! The experience will be "stamped" in my mind forever!! ha ha ha ha ha ha Sorry!!!
Unfortunately, I do not have a single photo of my parcel pick up experience as this is a government office and no pics are allowed anywhere near anything owned and operated by the government.
I hope everyone has a good week! I've got big plans on Thursday. Danni introduced me to an Australian lady whose husband is a big something something (I don't know his exact job title) at the US embassy. She's hosting
a small coffee at, what I understand, her extremely large home on Thursday morning. She's inviting all the American wives whose husbands work at the embassy with her husband. She decided to also invite the harbert wives! Now that everyone is back in Yangon after their summer vacations, she thought it might be nice for all of us to get together and get to know each another.
Another big event this week is Friday night....MEXICAN NIGHT AT THE AMERICAN CLUB! All the americans are going to get together in the big room and have all-you-can-eat tacos and socialize a bit! YUM...can hardly wait!
I hope you all have a great week! I have to say that today, I'm especially having a good day! It's Monday and it's also a small milestone..Today it is only 99 days til I go home. 99 DAYS! I've broken into the double digits!!! YEAH!!! See you all very soon!
Dannielle

Letters from Myanmar ~ Haircut
Hello all...How are things in the west?? Jonbenet's case is back in the news. On CNN they say Alabama because that frootloop has a connection to the state. When I hear Alabama I can't help but go aaaawwwwww! It's a mention of home and that's nice to hear!
Jennifer, my new housekeeper/nanny has finished her first week with us. I really like her. She almost never says anything to me. She just plays with Zoe, cooks, cleans, washes and irons. I hear her talking to Zoe when she's playing with her. I tell her what to cook and she cooks it. She has worked for Americans and French before so she kinda knows her stuff
She is a good cook and has pretty good English. She doesn't speak much southern, but she's learning. I hope things work out with her. I didn't really realize just how unhappy I was with the last housekeeper was until I hired this one. I'm liking this one so far...I have painted 28 Christmas ornaments, 3 wooden plates, 1 tray, 2 wooden wall hangings, and I've almost finish a candle holder in the past 8 weeks. I have a lot of time on my hands here in Myanmar...By the time I get home, I'll have the kids painted!!! ha ha
Not much happened this weekend. The hightlight of Friday night was when I emptied the ice trays. I know that doesn't sound like much to you all but just think how far ahead of the game I was on Saturday.
Since I had emptied all the ice trays the night before, Saturday was uneventful. I had a really bad sinus headache so I didn't get much accomplished. I laid on the couch most of the day. Turns out several people here at the apartment has got stuffy noses, headaches, and sinus issues. Something's in the air.
Sunday...however, was BIG!!! We had pancakes for breakfast as we discussed the fact that there is only 18 more Sundays left before we are at home. BUT Sunday afternoon I went and had 10 inches cut off of the back of my hair. I have been growing it for quite some time. I realized not too long ago that I would have enough to cut if I just give it a little more time. I had originally planned to grow it the entire time I was in Myanmar and have it cut as soon as I got home but... shortly after arriving here I realized that long hair, heat and humidity just don't mix. So I got out the ruler and had David measure it. He measured a couple of weeks ago and I had 9 3/4 inches. I got onto the internet and
read that I needed a full 10 inches. So I waited and today I went to the salon. I put my hair into a ponytail before I left the apartment. I walked in and told Pat to cut it just above the ponytail holder. She didn't much
want to but I talked her into it. She cut it, handed me 10 full inches of hair, and gave me a really cute, cool do!!! My hair is really short. I'll send my ponytail to Locks for Love when I get home. It was a very exciting day for me today.
Zoe's talking is really coming along. She still doesn't talk as well as Zach did when he was two but she's doing things her way. Her new thing is when you call her name she yells back at you "Do What" It is so funny
to hear "Do What". sometimes the things that comes out of her mouth is just too funny. She is sitting next to me right now eating palmello. Do you know what a palmello is???? It's a local fruit. It looks like a grapefruit. But is much sweeter than a grapefruit. Palmello is in season here right now so we eat a couple of palmellos a week. If you ever get a chance to try one....I would recommend it!!!
Hope you all have a great week. I'll be home in 120 days!!! yeah ME!!! Dannielle

Letters From Myanmar ~ Hello From the Equator
Hello from the equator!! I hope this potty reading material finds everyone as regular as can be!!! All is well here. We've been busy this weekend.
On Saturday, the Sakura hosted a "Back to School" party out by the pool for the all the kids. What a nice thing to do. About a week ago they put flyers under everyone's door inviting them to attend. The kids and I went down yesterday to partake in the "Back to School" Burma style party!!! They had a buffet of chicken fingers, potato chips (more like fried potatoes), little pita pizzas and sodas, all you could stand and eat. They were giving out ice cream cones with your choice of vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream. There were games such as ring toss, basketball throw, and skee ball. They had a magic show which was very entertaining. The magician did his magic trick and then told everyone when to clap. It was so funny! There was a man who was drawing caricatures of everyone. He drew Zach and Zoe, gave them really big heads and they turned out really cute.Looking forward to having them framed and hanging them on Cresview Drive. The cotton candy machine was what really made the day for me. It was a hand crank! The Burmese man stood with a stick in one hand and turned this huge crank with the other hand. He moved the stick around and around the big bowl collecting up all the cotton candy. That's what you call, hand made cotton candy!! I didn't know there was a such machine. I thought they all just plugged into the wall!! ha ha
This morning (Sunday) we got up and went to Shwedagon Pagoda. Several of you have seen the pictures. It's the biggest attraction in Yangon. This pagoda can be seen from just about everywhere here. It is so huge and so gold. I have a wonderful view of it from my balcony at the apartment and let me say that at night, It's just about one of the most beautiful sites I've ever seen. I catch myself
staring out the window at it. I have taken pictures of it at night, during the day, during the rain, when it's cloudy and when it's foggy. I want to remember what it looks like in all the weather because with each changing weather pattern it takes on a different look and I can't really decide which I like the best. You would think a perfectly sunny day would be the best but I find myself looking at it
most when there are really big clouds hanging just behind it. It seems to glow when there's a big black cloud coming up from behind it. And YES it is pure gold. The stupa rises 98 meters above it's base and it is covered with 60 ton of pure gold! (the last sentence came from a postcard)
Anyway, we went for a visit today.
No one wears shoes at the pagoda SO, I left my Clarks in the truck and walked around barefooted all morning long. As the pigeons flew by I couldn't help but think to myself....."How am I gonna get all this bird flu out from between my toes?"
It was very busy today as it Sunday. In the Buddhist religion, they don't gather to worship like in
a traditional church in the states. The people go there to give an offering and to pray. There offerings consist of flowers, money, and food. There are many Buddha statues at the pagoda and the offerings are laid at many of them. The Buddhists believe the day that you were born is important. I was born on a Sunday so I would go to the area where people go who were born on Sunday. There are 8 areas. 7 days but 8 areas because Wednesday is broken into Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon. Zoe was born at 9:30a.m. on a Wednesday so she would go according to the time of day she was born. David was born on a Monday and Zach on a Thursday. Each day of the week is also represented by a symbol. Zach's symbol is a rat, Zoe's is an elephant with a tusk (elephant without a tusk if you were born on a Wednesday afternoon), David's is a tiger, and mine is a magical box.....oooooo!!! Whatever that means!!! In each of the areas for the different days of the week,
you'll find these statues, elephants, tigers, and rats. Tuesday is a lion, Friday is a guinea pig, and Saturday was a dragon. You would also see many people pouring water over the Buddha's head, hanging flowers around it's neck and kneeling down to pray. It was all very fascinating as it is far from the traditional worship that I'm accustomed to. We hired a tour guide to help tell us about the things we were seeing. His name was Maung Aye. He told us all this stuff and surprisingly spoke pretty good English. He let us have a small look at Buddhism.
Of course, the weldon's never get out of the apartment without a crowd gathering. While we were out at the pagoda, on three separate occasions, dark people came up to us and ask us if they could have their pictures made with us. The first was a family. They had someone take their picture with us while the entire family stood with the Weldon's. Then the mom and dad broke away and they wanted a photo just their kids with the weldon's. Then they pulled the kids away and had just their picture made with the weldon's. Next, a man had a baby who looked to be about 2 or 3 months old. He wanted to know if he could have his baby's picture made with Zoe. So the man stood and held his baby while david stood and held Zoe and someone took their picture. Just before leaving a young girl came up and wanted to know if she could have her picture made with Zach and Zoe. Of course, Zoe wouldn't go without David so David held her while that picture was snapped.
We are freaks in this country. It is unbelievable how much people stare and point at us. I've been here a while and I'm getting better at just looking over it but when they come up and want photos....that's hard to look over!
Eventhough, I have learned a little about Buddhism since being in this country and can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into all the fine arcitecture here...I just don't get it!! They need to quit worrying about the day they were born and just be thankful for the day that they have. AND be thankful for the dirty feet God gave them to walk on!!!
I wore my longyi today. These people are kinda funny about what is worn in their place of worship. I thought that maybe people wouldn't stare at me as much if I were dressed like they are dressed....WRONG!!!
For all of you Luke and Laura fans and Bo and Hope fans....Don't feel bad for me! Even though I have been unable to see a soap opera for 7 weeks and 5 days, I'm doing okay. Here in Myanmar we have Wen Koo Koo and Moe Moe Myint. This little love affair is for Bill Harbert
employees only. As it turns out Wen Koo Koo is Pam and Steve's driver and he seems to be having an affair with Nate and Danni's housekeeper, Moe Moe Myint. Apparently, all of Bill Harbert's American employees know about this however, Wen Koo Koo's wife and children do not know!!
So let's keep it between you and me. See....People are just people, no matter what color they are!!! I have to wonder if Wen Koo Koo and Moe Moe Myint get married would she then become Moe Moe Koo Koo???? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Sometimes I make myself laugh!!! It's not
funny!!! This is bad...
I hired a new housekeeper last Friday. She started today, Monday! She came in today and did all of my ironing, washed all my dishes, and asked me did I like BROWNIES!!! Now that's what I call the international language of LOVE!!! She said she was going to make me some brownies from scratch!! She speaks english sometimes so that's helpful. It's really hard to find someone here who speaks southern so someone who speaks english will just have to do. Maybe I can teach her some southern. Her name is Jennifer and she is 33 years old. she is married with no children. I'm hoping this one is a keeper!
We are all doing well. David works a whole lot and the kids and I mostly stay here at the apartment. We get out to go to the jobsite. most of the people there know us and don't stare at us anymore. We try to go out on Saturday night to eat at a restaurant. Sometimes, that goes well and sometimes it doesn't. On Sunday's we try to get out and see what Myanmar has to offer. We are all counting down the days til we get to come home. Our plane tickets have been taken care of and we will leave here Dec 17 and be home Dec 18 if nothing changes. That's in four months and 4 days if you were wondering. I want you all to know how much I appreciate the emails. Sometimes I save them for weeks at a time and read them over and over. I also appreciate you not blocking me from your email list. Typing these emails is proving to be a bit therapeutic for me. I feel closer to home when I can talk to you all...I miss you all terribly and can't wait to see each and every single one of you!!! Take care of yourselves and each other until I get home....

Dannielle

Living in Myanmar ~ Got Chips!
by Dannielle Capps Weldon
Saturday, August 5,2006
I have HUGE news! I ate Ruffles Chedder and Sour Cream Potato Chips today!! How happy am I right now??? I realize that you all can just run up to the local gas station/wal mart and pick up a bag but here....not that easy! I haven't had a real Lays or Golden Flake potato chip since leaving home over SIX weeks ago. Potato chips are one of my most favorite foods but after arriving here, I've learned to live without them.
The American Club Commissary got a new shipment in yesterday. They only get shipments every three months. All the people here have warned
me, When the American Club gets a shipment, go as soon as you can. Once the food is gone, it is gone for three months. So the kids and I got up this morning and Charlie took us down there. HOLY COW!! I walked in and all I could see was potato chips!! I was so happy. I grabbed a couple of bags of chips, a couple of bags of nachos, a couple of bags of pretzels, and a couple of cans of peanuts oh and I got food too. I am truly learning to appreciate all that I have at home by living here. I've said it before and I'll say it again, everyone needs to do this for a while! You don't know how truly blessed you are until you've been here
Tonight, we went to the Monsoon Restaurant to have dinner. I had the spicy penne pasta again and David ate squid....YUCK!! The interesting part of this night is that we rode in a TAXI!!! You haven't lived until you've ridden in a taxi in Burma. To give you an idea about the cars here...Have you ever wondered what happens to cars when they get old?? I mean, what ever happened to those 1972 Pintos??? I'm not talking classic cars, I'm talking old run down, beat up Datsuns. What happened to the Datsun cars and trucks that we all used to see in the late 70's/early 80's. Well, they are all here and these people use them for Taxi's!!! No interior, no air conditioner, no handles to roll the windows up or down, some have the seats covered with shower curtain liners but some aren't that nice, no floor carpet just metal, no overhead upholstery just metal, no seat belts and most importantly....no shocks! Did I tell you there is NO department of transportation here??? These people don't repair roads. If there's a hole in the road, that's where you will find a taxi!! The taxi's don't handle holes
smoothly! It's a bumpy ride. The windows are down, you are bumping up and down, the smell of the exhaust from all the vehicles (NO EPA here either), and worst of all...the smell of the garbage that has been dumped on the streets. It's almost unbearable!!! But what a great experience!!! Can't get this kinda living in the Sumiton!!!

Sunday, August 6, 2006 ( 19 more Sundays until I get home)

Today, our adventures carried us to Hlawga Wildlife Santuary. It is located about 40 minutes north of the city of Yangon. We had no idea where we were going or what we would see but we packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bottles of water, OFF, a few diapers for Zoe and headed north. Charlie knew exactly how to get us there. To give you an overall picture of what it was like, think of Cades Cove in the smokey mountains. A single lane sometimes dirt, sometimes paved road. It made a giant circle and took us probably an hour and a half to go all the way through. There were wooden bridges, places to pull off and take in the view, a lake, a creek, rocks, and lots of wooded areas.
The main difference between Cades Cove and Hlawga Park is the animals. There were animals everywhere. In the road, on the sides of the road, in your way, touching your windows, climbing in the trees, sitting in the water...Everywhere!!! There were Burmese people all along the way
trying to sell you food to feed the animals. If you bought food, the animals would come to you. Of course, the price of the food was higher because we were white people out for a day of enjoyment and the majority of the burmese people look at that as an opportunity to jack the price up. Needless to say, we bought some grass for the deer and hippos. It was 500 kyat for us to buy grass. Charlie bought some for 200 kyat. After driving all the way through, we parked at the entrance and there was an area that we could walk through. In this area were bears that were down in holes. We bought bananas to feed the bears. The kids loved throwing the bananas into the bears and watching them
eat them. We had a great time!! I'll send a few pics but keep in mind, I didn't have my zoom lens on. As close as they appear, that's how close they were!!! A little too close for me at times!!

To give you an update...Ree Na Htoo no longer works for the Weldon's. We had to let her go. Several things had been happening over a period of about 3 or 4 weeks and things had progressively gotten worse. So we sent her on her way. I am presently looking for someone new to help
me. Some of the american's here are trying to help me as well. I have talked to one lady and had numerous other calls. I hope to find someone soon as I hate to iron!!!
I hope you all have a great week!! It's Monday here and that makes it one monday closer to coming home!!! I miss everyone and will see you
all soon!!!

Dannielle

A Busy Girl in Myanmar
I have exciting news my friends...I had a decent meal today at a restaurant!!! Yesterday (Monday), Pam called and invited me to lunch today (tuesday). She came and got me at 11:30 this morning. When I got down to the lobby Vicky Jackson, another wife was going with us. It's always good to meet new people, especially when they speak English!! We went to the BoJo Market. Pam had to pick up a pair of glasses she was having made. Well when I got there I was almost immediately hooked. I got myself a pair of prescription sunglasses for $45.00. No eye exam, no insurance, no nothing. The men took my glasses off of my head, put them into a machine, the machine spit out my prescription and now they can make me some prescription sunglasses. I can go tomorrow after 3p.m. and pick up my new prescription sunglasses. How cool is that??? Not gonna go tomorrow to pick them up though...I already have something to do tomorrow. LooK at my calendar filling up this week!!! Whooo Hoo!!! I'm a busy girl.
Tomorrow after I go to the jobsite to send you all this email, I'm going to the American Club to have some chicken fingers and fries as it is Wednesday and that's what the kids, david and I do at lunch along with many of the other American workers at the jobsite. It's almost a Wednesday tradition here in Myanmar amongst us folks.
Okay, back to lunch today. We ate at Monsoon Restaurant. You all might have remembered me telling you of this place as I know how much you all read and remember my mile long emails as if they are some kind of gospel. Nate and Danni took us to the Monsoon Restaurant the very first Saturday night after we arrived here. I ordered a salad and let me tell you....I couldn't eat it. I thought I ordered a grilled chicken salad. I couldn't eat it as it smelled too fishy....It was the fishiest tasting/smelling grilled chicken salad I had ever ordered. Needless to say I haven't been back to the restaurant. I just couldn't see myself doing that ever again. Well that's where Pam wanted to go for lunch. So I thought I would give it another try. After looking at the menu and looking at what I ordered the last time, it turns out I had ordered a TUNA and grilled chicken salad. Why would I do such a thing??? I don't eat seafood! That salad smelled just like cat food and now I know why. I'm going to blame jet lag. I did some really strange things during the first two weeks I was here and I don't think I even know half of how strange I really was. Things are still popping up as to how strange those two weeks actually were.
Anyway, today I ordered a Penne Pasta with spicy marinara sauce. This was good. Spagetti with a kick! My mouth was a little bit burning but it was good. I was glad that I tried this place again! Maybe instead of going to L'Opra every Saturday, David, the kids and I can try going back there for something different!!
I also wanted you all to know what was at the jobsite today, one of the workers found a BURMESE PYTHON in one of the buildings that are being built. He showed it to David and several of the other people around the jobsite.
Many of you have asked me about Burmese Pythons. Well, David has finally seen one in the wild. Since David is working on an embassay, it may be a government snake!!! A snake in the US government, how unusual would that be???
ha ha This was an exciting story at our dinner table tonight!! David got a picture of him holding the snake, it was 36" long. I'll try to forward the pic. Hope it turns out well!!!
Hope you all have a good weekend ahead!!! I'll let you know how my sunglasses turn out!! I'm hoping with my newly dark hair and my dark shades maybe I'll look a little more asian and people will quit staring at me!!!
Dannielle

Letters From Myanmar ~ Sunday at the Zoo
Sunday, July 23, 2006
I will start off by saying the very first Sunday that we spent here together, I was a little down and out that afternoon. David looked at me and said..."look at it this way, one Sunday closer to going home". I got my calendar out and counted down the Sunday's. It has become tradition for us to have pancakes every Sunday morning and to talk about how many few Sunday's we have left here. Just incase you were wondering...we've got 21 Sunday's left. May sound like a long time to you but to us....It's the sound of hope!
My life has been a roller coaster ride every day since April of 2005. I wake up each morning never knowing what is about to happen. It's hard to be prepared when things are so unstable. I'm a little torn quite frankly. I'm so ready to come home and be normal but sometimes great things happen and I just stand amazed and happy to have had this opportunity.
This brings me to our adventures today. The Weldon's went to the zoo here in Myanmar. David has been to the zoo before but the kids and I got to experience it for the first time. It costs $0.10 to park the car in the zoo parking. Admission to the zoo is 2000 kyats per foreigner (that's a little less than $2.00 US each). This is a small way that americans get discriminated against, we pay more for things that locals do because of our white skin. BUT we got carried in a special enterance for foreigners. We didn't have to go in the same gate as the locals. Whoo Hoo....Our very own gate! It's probably wider because foreigners are enormous compared to the tiny Burmans!! haha A wider door for wider folks!!!
As David paid our admission and got our tickets to get into the zoo, the kids and I began to get surrounded as we often do here. My kids are an attraction and I have decided that I need to find a way to charge the locals to touch, look at and kiss my kids. You have to be here to understand how it is. We are freaks here. People will stop, point their fingers at us, tell the people they are with, and stare as we walk by. It is the most amazing thing. Especially, Zoe. She has the fairest hair and skin and is small so people tend to be drawn to her. People will walk up to her, squat down (people here squat like you wouldn't believe) and will start touching her. She freaks out, of course. If I stand still longer than about 30 seconds people will surround me and her to the point that we cannot move. We get mobbed. At the market, on the street, no matter where we go and the zoo was no
different. David got our tickets to get into the zoo, turned around and had to say excuse me, just to get to us.
We had drawn quite a crowd. By the time we had been into the zoo for about 10 minutes...He was sick and tired of the attention we were getting. I just laughed. I was glad he was holding zoe...generally I'm by myself with the kids. It gets to the point that I buy only a few groceries at a time because I can't be in the market longer than about 10 minutes at a time. Everyone needs to experience this....It's so weird to be white!!!
I will not bore you by sending all the pics as I made around 100 pictures. I will send a few. Keep in mind, I didn't use a zoom lens. We were as close to these animals as the pictures show. We were close enough to touch many of the animals...Made me a little uncomfortable with Zoe Brooke not knowing any better. Kinda have to keep close eyes on her. The zoo smelled so bad but seemed to be clean (according to Myanmar standards). There were trolleys to ride you around the zoo, there
were boat rides, elephant rides, a water park, and little venders set up all along the way selling food, drinks, and items that I felt uncomfortable getting too close too....ha ha! One of the highlights was when we stopped by one of these little stands to buy Zach and David a soda. The sodas came in bottles. We paid the lady for the soda and she took the top off of the bottle and began to poor this bottle of soda into a small baggy. She then put a straw in the baggy and handed it to Zach. Have you ever drank a soda, or any liquid for that matter, out of a baggy??? My mouth just dropped all the way open. I looked at David and his mouth was all the way open. SHOCKED!!
What was she doing?? She was pooring that bottle of soda into a baggy. This was a tiny wal mart sack. Then she
put a straw in the sack. Words cannot express my amazement. Who would have ever thought to pour a soda into a baggy and drink it. Turns out, no glass bottles were allowed in the zoo so in place of what we would use a plastic cup for, they used a baggy. When I was able to gather myself, I laughed way too hard. This was the funniest thing. A soda out of a wal mart sack...I have a picture of course...check it out!!!
David bought some bananas to feed some elephants that were just out walking around on leashes with zoo keepers. He was holding Zoe and needless to say...Zoe isn't much of an elephant kinda person. She freaked out!!! Zach wouldn't go near them either. I was taking pictures so, of course, I couldn't be close...ha ha We like the zoo, we just don't want the zoo to touch us!!!
David paid one of the zoo keepers $0.20 to sit a really big bird on his shoulder so I could take a picture. The bird just sat there...David was holding Zoe and she's not really a bird kinda person either! After wiping the BIRD FLU off of his shoulder we moved on. Of course, we got rained on which was totally expected! It's the rainy season here and if you go anywhere, you get rained on! Rule of Myanmar thumb...always take an umbrella.
We stayed about 3 hours at this zoo. We didn't use the restrooms as it is well known to all Americans here that it's worth going back to your apartment if you gotta go. I havent' gotten up enough nerve to try a public restroom out (for photo purposes) and the zoo was not where I was going to experience one for the first time. We are learning to hold it!!! I think all three of our bladders have grown in size since arriving here. AND thankfully, Zoe still has her diapers. I can't even imagine how things would be here if we were just learning to potty like a big girl. To all of those people who encouraged me to train her before we left....My gut instinct (keeping her in diapers) was right on!!! I shipped a potty chair over here but I plan to make no effort in this department until we get back into the land home!! Sorry didn't mean to get into this subject so deeply,
just wanted you all to know...Never use the public restrooms in Myanmar!!! ha ha
I hope you all had as good of a weekend as we have had!! Monday, July 24 will bring me down to 150 days until I come home!!! I look forward to seeing everyone and look forward to this whole experience being just a memory!!!
I will see you soon....Dannielle

Living in Myanmar (Burma)
Dannielle Capps Weldon
I have been here 3 weeks today. For 3 weeks, one of the most difficult things that I've had to face has been the food issues here. You can get cheese singles for grilled cheese but it's a brand I've never heard of before, it doesn't melt, and it's not really yellow. But if it's all you've got...it's all you've got. The kids eat the grilled cheese I'm making but to tell you the truth...it's not a very cheesy grilled cheese. Just kinda bland but when you're as hungry as I've been and when you've just come from a restaurant that tried to feed you snail soup, the bland grilled cheese tastes pretty good. Anyway, I've made several trips to the market and every trip that I make I find myself standing in the market thinking there has got to be something better than this with that song "what was I thinking?" playing in my head. I can't believe these people eat this stuff. I can't find enough ingredients to make even one southern dish. I know that I'm a picky eater but come on!!! There has got to be more here than just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bland grilled cheeses. I sent an adequate supply of boxed food that we would eat but when you make 3 meals a day on the food that I've sent the supply starts to diminish.
For a week now, I've been a little bit concerned because I'm down to very little of what I sent, the next shipment isn't due for at least another 3 weeks and it's not a very big shipment. I've made mom a list of supplies that we need but that will not make it here until the middle of September. I've got to find a supply of edible food here and in the back of my head I just kept thinking, there has got to be food somewhere. David tells me that the American Club (military commissary) might have a "few things" that I would like but it's very small, only 3 isles wide, and may not be worth joining for the few items that I would be able to get. I was on the internet this morning looking up recipes and trying to find something that we could cook with the limited ingredients that I knew I could find here. I made a list of the ingredients that most recipes called for that I hadn't been able to find here. I was gonna bring this list of ingredients back to the apartment, show them to Ree Na Htoo (housekeeper) and see if she might know where these could be found. I knew that she and I have a communication barrier but I was willing to spend this afternoon with her, my myanmar translation book, and my list of missing ingredients. I needed cheddar cheese, cornmeal, sour cream, buttermilk, crisco or vegetable shortening, mozzarella cheese, brown sugar, sweet potatoes, pecans, confectioners sugar. These are just a few things that would really help me out. These are staples in my kitchen and, even though, many of you think I live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I can cook and I like to cook and after three weeks of doing without....would love to cook. Anyway, I wanted Ree Na Htoo to help me find these things.
After being on the internet this morning and calling home for a while, a group of us from the jobsite went to the American Club to eat as we all tend to do on Wednesdays. The American Club has a restaurant. Weldons can't go there and eat because we aren't members but we can go as guests of someone who is a member....my new friend Nate!!! We ordered our american food, chicken fingers and taco salads, and then David suggests that we walk around to the commissary while our food is cooking just so I can see exactly what they have. Can I just say that I was hugging the refrigerators so tightly that they had to pry me off of them....There were big huge blocks of cheddar cheese, KRAFT singles, Country Crock butter, Lays potato chips, sour cream....everything on my list with the exception of cornmeal and buttermilk(which may be exclusively southern)..everything I couldn't find here before was just sitting on the shelves there waiting on me to pick up and bring home!!! I've never been so happy in my entire life to see spray n wash....The boxes of TIDE I just stood there and smelled.
They smelled like home. Everything was written in English, the dollars were US dollars...Did I say that I've been here for 3 weeks?? Someday's, David is just a real gem....This isn't one of them!!!
Hope you all have a good weekend!!! I'll talk to you soon!!!

Dannielle

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