By David Leuthold
Activities during Myanmar Trip, December 2010
Wednesday December 8. Arrive at Winner Inn about 5:30 pm
- Welcome Dinner sponsored by Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation (MBAPF) at Royal Garden restaurant at 7 pm. Guests included U Thaw Kaung, founder of Myanmar’s Library Diploma program, distinguished historian, patron of NLR project and father of Thant Thaw, Thaw’s wife Su-Su, Thant Thaw, his wife May Moe Nwe, Dr. Robert Taylor and Dr. Myo Myint (Cornell PhD, former Director-General for Religious Affairs)
Thursday, Dec 9. 9:30 am Meeting with Board of Directors of MBAPF at Myanmar Book Center, owned by Thant Thaw and May Moe Nwe. People at the meeting included U Thaw Kaung; Thant Thaw; May Moe New; Daw Khin Oo, Librarian Yangon University; U Tin Maung Lwin (Kennedy), director of Cetana English Proficiency Center; Daw Tin Tin Win, representative of the Ministry of Information; Dr. Robert Taylor; and Dr. Myo Myint.
- Shopping at Myanmar Book Centre, examination of shipping containers and storage shed.
- Lunch at Feel Restaurant, thanks to MBAPF.
- Visit to Cetana English Proficiency Center (with Kennedy)
- Visit to Knowledge Bank library with Zar Ni Htet, chairman and his sister Khin Kyi Hnyoon, managing director.
- Visit to Dr. Chit Maung library that serves a Karen community in Yangon. Also have fitness center. Visit with Dr. Chit Maung’s daughter who had succeeded Dr.Maung as principal of their theological seminary, her husband, and her brother. Sister, brother and sister’s daughter had been founders of the library.
- Dinner at Sedona Hotel, 17 courses, courtesy of MBAPF. Guests included U Thaw Kaung and his wife Su-Su; Thant Thaw and his wife Mae Moe New; Dr. Saw Ivan, Operations director of World Vision in Myanmar; and Myat Sann Nyein, Library Director, Baldwin Library, U.S. Embassy.
Friday, Dec 10. Morning flight (8 am) to Mandalay including Dr. Myo Myint, our guide.
- Visit to Mahamuni Paya. Bill Cochran and Dennis Taylor added gold leaf to Buddha image. Rain, and Dennis and Jack Simpson slipped on wet marble. Viewed art items taken from Angor Wat centuries ago.
- Lunch, and later snack of tea, coffee, fruit and wedding delicacies, hosted by Organizing Committee of Active Youth Library.
- Visit to Active Youth library, located on campus of University of Medicine, Mandalay.
- Meeting with Rector (i.e. President or Chancellor) Dr. Than Win, University of Medicine, Mandalay . Tour of University library
- Visit to I Care library, directed by Ko Htet Aung, Library started by students at Mandalay
- Arts and Science University. In street front building.
- Visit to Jefferson Library, established by U. S. Embassy, in large building that was once owned by British Timber Co, then became U.S. consulate from 1950s to 1979.
- Dinner on our own at a nearby restaurant.
- Stayed overnight at Silver Star Hotel in downtown Mandalay. Everyone had a corner room.
Saturday, Dec 11. (Rainy day in Mandalay. Estimated at 3 inches of rain)
- Visited King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop Show Room.
- Visited Soe Moe Myanmar Traditional Handicraft.
- Visited Mahagandhayon Monastery in Amarapura. Home to 1200 monks. 150 or so tourists watching monks line up for lunch.
- Visited Thein Nyo Traditional weaving in Amarapura.. 2 or 3 demonstration weavers. Many fabric items for sale, at least some were imported from China.
- Rode to city of Sagaing. Visited Sitagu International Buddhist Academy. Lunch courtesy of the Academy (due to Myo Myint arrangements)
- Visited Intensity Speaking Center, with its library. Directed by U Aung Than Htut. Speaking center is located in rear building behind his parent’s kitchenware shop.
- Visited Islamic Center Library, also know as EduZone. Hosted by Aung Aung Than, an instructor in their English proficiency program. Tea afterwards in a nearby shop with Htut. Htut and his boss also joined us at breakfast the next morning.
- In Silver Star Hotel, met with Myo Myint who discussed Buddhism.
- Dinner on our own at an Indian restaurant
Sunday, Dec 12.
- Visited Mandalay Palace. Enroute, we stopped briefly to buy fruit at a fruit stand. Explanation of Palace by Aung Thu Win, licensed tour guide hired by Exotissimo
- Visited Kuthodaw Pagoda, with 729 marble stupas with bronze plates enscribed with teachings of Buddha.
- Visited Golden Palace Monastery.
- Visited Pripariyatti Sessene University , established and operated by the government to train monks, in part for missionary work among the country’s ethnic groups. Saw palm leaf manuscripts. 500 students. Lunch in small dining hall courtesy of University, (arranged by Myo Myint)
- Long drive to Mandalay airport. Caught 3:15 pm flight to Yangon. Met at Yangon airport by Exotissimo
- Stayed overnight at Winner Inn. Dinner on our own or skipped dinner.
- Monday, Dec 13. Free morning. Bill Cochran, Dennis Taylor and Carolyn Leuthold visited Shwedagon Paya with Thant Thaw. Breakfast at the hotel, lunch on our own.
- Noon: Bus left for Pathein. We were joined by Daw Ah Win and Thant Thaw. Road was fairly good and bus averaged 30 miles per hour. At one stop a worker climbed a palm tree and cut toddy palm coconuts, which Thant purchased and served that night at dinner.
- Tea and restroom stop halfway. Tea cost paid by Thant Thaw.
- In Pathein visited parasol factory
- Dinner on the lawn, courtesy of Daw Ah Win.
- Overnight at Pathein Hotel
Tuesday, Dec 14. 4 am wakeup call. 5 am charter boat shoved off, down the Pathein River. Box breakfast, courtesy of Thant Thaw. Rest stop at Ywathitgale, treat by Bill Cochran. Arrived at Thingangone at 10:10 am.
- Opening ceremonies for newly constructed Thingangone Community library. Speeches by Daw Ah Win, Thant Thaw and members of Library Committee.
- Walking and motorcycle visits past solar panels for fish drying to Cyclone Survival Center, to school building and school library, to electricity generating plant powered by burning rice husks.
- Lunch at local restaurant, courtesy of Library organizing committee.
- Took chartered boat back to Pathein.
- Dinner on the lawn again, courtesy of Leutholds.
- Overnight at Pathein Hotel.
Wednesday, Dec 15. Breakfast at restaurant near the Community Buddhist center, guests of Daw Kyin Nu, Daw Ah Win’s sister in law.
- Drove by van from Pathein to Bogalay, 6 hour van ride. Good road to Pantanaw, then poor road to Pyapon and on to Bogalay. Stopped for pics of eel baskets on a bicycle. Dismounted from bus once and walked across bridge, fearful that the bridge was not strong enough. On return trip we remained in the bus when it crossed the bridge. Lunch in Pyapon at Brothers 3 restaurant. Some purchases of liquor from bar.
- Met Arkar Myint Oo, Daw Ah Win’s nephew, who later accompanied us to Yangon.
- Visited Bogalay Tint Aung Library, named for famous musician whose bust is out front. Library has a second floor that is used as a community center. We had tea there with the local library committee. Bogalay Tint Aung paid for building and books, lives in Yangon, wanted to help local community.
- Visited Bogalay Monastery School. Daw Ah Win donates money for books, and MBAPF has donated exercise books. Designed for low income students. Many students. so school has morning and afternoon staffs. Sue Simpson sang songs to and with the students.
- Visited Maggin Monastery
- Visited Migalar Kanthar Monastic school, which has received exercise books from MBAPF.
- Visited Community Buddhist Center to look at potential library site. Center was financed by estate of U Aung Nyunt, Daw Ah Win’s brother.
- Took pictures of Myanmar wedding taking place just below our hotel.
- Stayed overnight at Diamond Palace Hotel—small rooms, communal bath for single rooms.
Thursday, Dec 16. Breakfast at tea room, guests of Daw Kyin Nu, sister in law of Daw Ah Win.
- Power point presentation by Maureen Kolay at Bogalay office of World Vision Myanmar. NLR has sent a first batch of books to this office for distribution, including 5,075 books in English and 634 books in Myanmar language.
- Boarded speed boats, headed southwest for 45 minutes to Auk Magyi village. Board on jetty broke underneath David Leuthold. Visited NFE (Non-Formal Education) school built by World Vision with adjoining library of a few books. Library had an exercise book which listed book checkouts.
- Headed southwest for 10 more minutes and visited Koun Thee Chaung village. World Vision has constructed an NFE school and a separate small library building which has a few books, 147 from NLR.
- Lunch at a streetside Indian restaurant, courtesy of Thant Thaw.
- Rode in bus to Pyapon, population 200,000, visited Zaw Gyi Centenary Library. Library named for famous national poet born in Pyapon in 1907. Nationwide fund raising to finance library. Library has 11,000 books, 1,400 from NLR.
- Rode in bus to Yangon. Overnight at Winner Inn. (Sedona Hotel for Simpsons)
Friday, Dec 17. Breakfast for Bill Cochran, Daw Ah Win and U Thaw Kaung to discuss libraries.
- Visit to Hotel and Tourism Training Center by Leutholds, Adair and Taylor. Center is owned by Win Kyi (and government) and has 250-300 students. We visited about 15 classrooms or mock hotel rooms used for training purposes. The Center has a small and outdated library, to which MBAPF will contribute some appropriate books. Lyda Adair found in the library a copy of John Badgley’s book on Asian Development.
- Cochran and Taylor left Winner Inn with Thant Thaw’s driver to airport for 4:40 pm flight to Taipei, San Francisco (overnight), Billings and Helena.
- Leutholds and Adair visited ICE Youth Library, designed especially for students preparing to take college entrance exams or English language exams. Also visited Self Initiated Learning Resource Center (SILRC), a training center operated by Kevin (Myo Kyaw Thu Myint) and other associates from ICE Youth Library. This training center was financed with a gift from MBAPF. At present one class is being offered, Social Research Methodology, with 18 students, including two monks from Mandalay that we met. ICE Youth has redistributed NLR/MBAPF books to five other libraries, but also said they had a room full of sacks of books that have not been redistributed.
Saturday, Dec 18, Shopping trip by Daw Ah Win, Sue Simpson, Lyda Adair, and Carolyn Leuthold. Jack and Sue Simpson flew to Ngapali Beach. Thant Thaw flew to India. Leutholds and Adair remained at Winner Inn, met with Win Kyi and his wife Annie, and with U Thaw Kaung and wife Su-Su.
Monday, Dec 20. 1 pm, Leutholds and Adair depart for airport with Thant’s driver for 4:40 pm flight to Taipei and San Francisco. 20+ hours travel from Winner Inn to Howard Johnson S San Francisco. Arrived home late on Tuesday, Dec 21.