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Living and teaching Myanmar - Any info?

Discussion in 'Staffroom' started by DavidUSA, 15 Oct 2016.

  1. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Hi Joko!

    I would like to hear a little about life in Myanmar. What is it like to live there? What is it like to teach there? How safe is it?
     
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  2. Joko

    Joko Active Member

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    I can't say for sure, as I only lived in Thailand for a year in 2013, but I imagine Myanmar is a lot like Thailand used to be 20-30 years ago. There's not a lot of infrastructure, most people are quite poor, but everyone is friendly towards foreigners and interested in what you're doing here.

    Teaching wise, I love my students. They're highly motivated, very attentive and respectful. I'd also add that despite decades of an extremely poorly funded educational system, the English level of your average Burmese is significantly higher than your average Thai. Although Myanmar is tonal like Thai, as well as having their own alphabet and an odd grammar (no adjectives!), I think their L1 doesn't have as strong an effect on their speaking as it does in Thailand.

    It's also probably the safest country I've ever been in. Despite the poverty, crime is almost non-existent. You can leave your bike unlocked on the street. Just yesterday, a colleague left her laptop in a taxi. The taxi driver really went out of his way to track her down to return it. Some have called Myanmar the most Buddhist country in the world. That may have something to do with it, but it could also be because of a generation of living under a draconian regime wherein even the smallest offenses were harshly punished.
     
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  3. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

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    L1 and target language acquisition is something of an interest for me, would you mind expanding on why you think that the L1 in Myanmar doesn't have as strong an effect as Thai?
     
  4. gungchang

    gungchang Well-Known Member

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    I've visited Myanmar a few times, and it sounds like British English to me. I suspect that the former colonial status outweighs any influence L1 might have, not unlike in Malaysia, I imagine.

    I'd like to know if it's true that the alphabet is circular so that it can be written with a stylus on banana leaves.

    I've also wondered if those big letters are vowels and if vowels must come before a word.
     
  5. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for that info. I was in Myanmar once, and that was enough to scare the living daylight out of me. As soon as I crossed the border I felt unsafe and I did not like the people--not at all. They did not have the grace and politeness that is so common in Thailand, and I saw a lot of shady business going on such as selling animal parts, ivory, etc. Really disgusting, foul stuff.

    So what you said is really interesting to me. I have been thinking that Myanmar is a particularly scary and dangerous place, and that has been reinforced over the years from watching the news. I visited that Burmese-focused NGO in Chiang Mai once, mostly because I thought it was a front for some Western intell effort and I just wanted to entertain myself and talk to them. What they had to say reinforced my negative views. So my snapshot of Myanmar from my one-day trip fifteen years ago might be entirely mistaken.

    Is it safe to travel upcountry? I have heard that it is not safe at all. I was told that you can get killed for 5 Baht.

    I would love to check out the north of Burma. Excuse me if I call it Burma. What do you think? Is it safe?
     
  6. Gor Blimey Guvnur!

    Gor Blimey Guvnur! What the duck ! Staff Member

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    FYI sounds a bit dodgy up there and always has ....for the bravehearted I think but I bet its amazing up there. I myself have only crossed at Mai Sai up there and in about 12km's as was the restriction on tourists in the late 90's.

    Just one site with an advisory ...plenty more.

    Burma travel advice - GOV.UK
     
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  7. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    No way Jose!

    Unless you spend most of your time in Central African Republic, Afghanistan, and South Sudan, Myanmar is an extremely dangerous place in comparison to most other countries. Now, it might be nice and comfy where you live, I do not doubt it, but the country as a whole has a high rate of intentional murder:

    List of countries by intentional homicide rate - Wikipedia

    How about genocide against the Rohingya?
     
  8. Joko

    Joko Active Member

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    You ask a question and then answer it yourself.

    :::shakes head:::

    O
     
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  9. Joko

    Joko Active Member

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    One thing I didn't mention in my OP is how much Myanmar has changed in the 3 years I've been here.

    When it comes to telecommunications, when I got here, a SIM card was $140 and speeds were so slow that I had to stream my favorite sporting events from a nearby internet cafe that had a broader band. Nowadays, a SIM card is the same as world prices ($2) and although the internet still isn't fast, it's okay,

    I'm also allowed to go anywhere in Myanmar I want to. I have a Myanmar drivers license, and that is all the permission I need. Tourists, on the other hand, still face restrictions, so if you want to go 'upcountry', you'll need permissions first. And you'll need to hire a guide.

    In day to day life, as I've already noted, Yangon is about as safe as you can get. Safer than Bangkok, and certainly safer than Kabul, Bangui or Juba. Lately, there's been an uptick of insurgency on the borders of Myanmar, but thinking that this place is the war zone it was 10 years ago would be erroneous.
     
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  10. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, your answers made me suffer doubt and search Google.

    Or, frankly, it might have been (1) the Ukelele or (2) singing a song, "If I were a man."

    __________________________________________________________

    I am just joking. It is very nice to be able to talk to someone in Myanmar. I am sure that is extremely interesting.
     
    Last edited: 16 Oct 2016
  11. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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  12. Trekie

    Trekie Member

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    Been here for 6 months and wish I had made the move sooner. Currently up country will post more once I get back to the city. Teaching wise it's great: motivated and sharp students. This country is going places fast so come on over and enjoy. Also, I am yet to meet a nicer bunch of people, the locals really make Myanmar what it is. Great beer, too.

    Sent from my SM-J500FN using Tapatalk
     
  13. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

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    poke
     
  14. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Well, looks like I am going to have to see for myself. From what you say, it sounds appealing.

    If any big changes happen in Thailand as far as the employment of foreign English teachers goes, then those teachers can look on this website and get a lot of info to help them move to Burma or China. I take it that Burma is actually safe in some of the major cities, but, according to the internet, don't go off the beaten path because part of the country is worse than the Central African Republic.

    China is really something, and it grows on you. Unfortunately, there is some prejudice about living here, that it is a Communist stronghold, the enemy of peace and freedom: total cowpies. It is no such thing. I know who is soaked in human blood and causes massive suffering in the world, and it is not China. That is just a fact. Talk about a country that is going somewhere! You want some sharp students?
     
  15. gungchang

    gungchang Well-Known Member

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    I've flown to Rangoon and crossed at Mae Sai and gazed at the border for Mae Sot.
    From Yangon, I've been to the balancing pagoda and taken the train to Mandalay. from there, a boat to Bagan. Then, overland to Inle Lake. I flew back to Yangon.

    This was over tens years ago. I didn't feel in danger, but perhaps I should have.. Internet was a cafe sending and receiving email for me using Outlook or something. Phones were obscenely expensive.
     
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