, , ,

So here we go again. The aim is to turn 2017 into a year of doing what I can to help a country that is near to my heart and to have a few adventures along the way.  Not there yet but have started on the journey in all senses – life in UK wound up or put on hold, farewells said and bags packed.

The last statements sounds easy but is one of the worse elements to moving overseas for a while.  Last time I had to account for temperature range of -45C to +48C in Tajikistan – a packing challenge at any time.  With moving to Myanmar you would think it much more straightforward but the list had to cover:

  • Work wear Yangon – quite smart (but no black as that is only the colour of mourning)  able to cope with travelling on the bus to work in 48C with 85% humidity and then (if you are lucky and the electricity is on) air conditioning in the office.
  • Work wear in the country – business like, more conservative and able to cope with having to use a motorbike … and the monsoon.
  • Out of office wear – as with all clothing for – knees and shoulders to be covered at all times so as not to offend local sensibilities – why is it that everything I own is about 4 cms too short.
  • Smart going out wear – invites to weddings are common
  • At home wear – no air conditioning, actually probably ‘no air’ so something to relax and keep you as cool as possible and can break the ‘sensibility’ rules if you remain indoors
  • Trekking wear –
    • dry season – low level (don’t forget the shorts below the knees and shoulders covered rule)
    • wet season – very wet – don’t forget the walking poles
    • Altitude – cold, need thermal underwear, hat, gloves and warm coat.
  • Underwear – cotton only and lots of it as the elastic rots in the monsoon
  • Shoes – suitable for the heat, monsoon and all the occasions above
  • Hats – for once not the formal but the sun and wet variety (+umbrella for the same)
  • Water proofs/rain coat
  • Motor cycle helmet – there has to be a post coming up on that alone
  • Toiletries – we take so much for granted here when it comes to availability of goods.  Try working out how much you need of your favourite shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, dental floss, face wipes, face creams, body lotion, make up, medication .. let alone all the other more specialist items we have in our repertoire.  Its not that the basics are unavailable in the city but simple things like only being able to obtain face cream with whitener can ruin the desired affect.  Any way believe me a years worth weighs about 8kgs alone.
  • Equipment – electronic
    • laptop for work
    • Ipad for entertainment
    • 2 Telephones – one for international use, one for local use
    • camera
    • Electric toothbrush (this is my ‘desert island’ luxury)
    • Leads, chargers and remote power packs for the above
  • Equipment – misc
    • Mosquito net
    • Sleeping bag liner
  • Bags
    • Brief case for work
    • Back pack for travelling up country
    • Handbag – well I have to have one
    • Waterproof sports bags for clothes/computer/phone during the monsoon (and the water festival – more on that later)
  • Cotton Sheets – bought them but they had to be left behind just a step too far
  • First Aid kit – comprehensive kit to cover as many eventualities as possible, including supply of anti malarials
  • Paper work – for visas, work permits, hotel, flights

And by the way your weight allowance is 30 kgs – So when I say I am packed – don’t underestimate the task or the achievement!

Having observed the ‘no black’ rule not only for the mourning connotation but also knowing from Tajikistan the devastating affect dust can have on black clothing, I am in Bangkok to obtain my Myanmar work permit and visa.

Thailand is in the middle of a years mourning for its late King who died last year.  It is most impressive, buildings are adorned with black drapes and messages of love and appreciation for the work he did for his county and his love of his people.  The general population seem to feel a direct connection to their King – and as a result many are wearing full mourning or at the very least dark, sombre colours. As a sign of respect it seems only polite to do the same – if only I had brought some black clothes.


All the shops and local market are predominately selling black or white clothing.




But of course, Thailand will always be colourful in its natural state so to finish on a brighter note here are some of the sights from the last week.  An early morning bike ride booked for tomorrow then I should pick up my visa/work permit and pack yet again for the final leg of the journey and the beginning of my work in Myanmar.




Yes honestly I found this chap in central Bangkok!