After a breakfast of fried rice, chickpeas, sausage and onion we returned to the Minbya Public Center for an Arrakha Foundation meeting. The men sat one side of the room and the women the other in two rows facing one another. They spoke for 40 minutes in Arakanese. I then explained our English and teacher training program. The 4 teachers seemed very excited and asked if there was an upper age limit! I am hoping to conduct training in November and I think that we just found my first students.
This concluded our official duties for the day and at 10 am a man named 'Edward' arrived to take us to a local waterfall that the locals use to wash themselves and their clothes. It was gloriously cold and we sat in our clothes under the falls for a good hour.
The destruction from the cyclone was huge. The paddy fields are brown with mud at the time of year when they should be at their most lush green. There were trees for miles and the desolation was shocking.
Mrauk Oo was wonderful. It was great to have a typically touristy day without the pressure of meeting a lot of new people and remembering unfamiliar names. The government reconstructed many of the stupas with concrete in 2010. This is like Knossos in Crete. Although that was in the 1920s. The restoration in Rakhine prevents the site from being a UNESCO world heritage site. We walked around. The first Buddha had 550 lives as animals and there are carvings to commemorate all 550.
We also visited the site of the ancient palace. Nothing much remains aside from some foundation slabs and a passage filled with water which was once upon a time an escape route on times of danger.
NEH Coordinator and Teacher Trainer