We were very privileged to be invited to our colleague Khin Lay’s family home last weekend. It was a three and a half hour drive from Bagan through green countryside (thanks to the recent rains) and a combination of bustling little towns and quieter villages.
From the moment we arrived until the moment we left Thazi, we were treated like royalty and made to feel extremely welcome and part of the large extended family.
We enjoyed numerous scrumptious meals served beautifully like a banquet in her parents’s house. Each had been prepared by various family members who all live in the same quarter… mostly next door to each other. Being visitors we were always served first while everyone waited patiently.
The dishes were all extremely fresh and delicious… over the two days our tastebuds were tickled by goat curry, pennywort salad, dried goat jerky, braised broccoli leaves, sautéed vegetables, chicken and bottle gourd stew, tomato salad, chapatis, bean dip, bananas, custard apples, water melon, apple, watermelon and sunflower seeds, various traditional cakes made from semolina, rice and sago, and of course lots of fluffy rice. They also provided Gordon with some bread, knowing how he likes to eat this every day!
Gordon didn’t waste any time endearing the local kids with story time!
Thazi is a railway junction town located just about midway between Bagan and the popular tourist town of Kalaw. It’s also on the main line between Yangon and Mandalay… so a visit to the station was a must.
All Khin Lay’s family (apart from her) work for the railway and live in Thazi. The railway workers are given government housing in which they can live in until they turn 60… and then you have to vacate to make way for new employees. This means finding a new place to live can certainly have challenges if you don’t own land. Railway workers like all public servants are payed a low wage so saving for the future can be difficult… but somehow everyone manages because they help each other.
In the evening we did a little moonlight sightseeing to the atmospheric historic ‘golden fly’ pagoda which was devoid of very many people at 6.30pm… so the experience was extra serene. As part of the weekend Thindingyut lighting festival, candles illuminated the site and a group was chanting traditional Buddhist readings.
While there we were also invited to a complimentary bowl of tasty vermicelli chicken soup – provided as a donation by a local group.
It was here that I had the opportunity to rub the knee of a healing effigy, so I’m hoping she will help speed up my chikungunyah recovery.
The Sunday morning was an opportunity to explore the breakfast fare at a local teahouse before strolling the neighbourhood and enjoying yet another Myanmar banquet lunch with our Thazi family.
A big THANK YOU to U Aye, Daw Khin, Khin Lay as well as the generous sisters, aunties, nieces, in-laws and neighbours – who all gave us such memorable moments to hold in our hearts … on this ‘family’ weekend away.