Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ko Dut

Events of Monday 24th April 2017

Helpers from Ko Dut Drop In Centre arrived at our accommodation fairly early and, after preparing breakfast for the Doctor, the Doctor's mother and the writer, they lifted the large sacks of materials for the Distribution to Children from upstairs in the house to a waiting pick-up.

Around Ko Dut: Helpers from Ko Dut Drop In Centre moving the large sacks of materials for the Distribution to Children from upstairs in the house to a waiting pick-up.

With Ko Dut Drop In Centre temporarily unavailable, the monastery had agreed that the Assembly Hall there could be used for the distribution, so we arrived to find around 300 excited but surprisingly quiet young people sitting on the floor of the hall.

Distribution at Ko Dut Monastery.

Soon, a senior monk arrived, deputising for the abbott who had been called away. The senior monk sat facing the children together with a second monk. A simple portable amplification system with a radio microphone was set up.

The Senior Monk at Ko Dut Monastery addresses the children.

After a brief exhortation by the Senior Monk, Doctor Hla Tun explained about the new donated school uniforms, school bags and stationery which was about to be distributed. The senior monk then suggested that I addressed the children. First, I would say a few sentences in English. Then I passed the microphone to Dr. Hla Tun who translated into standard Myanmar language. Then the microphone passed to one of the helpers, a fluent Mon speaker, to translate into the Mon language, as not all the children understood the standard Myanmar language. Then the microphone was returned to me, to say a little more.

The helpers from the Drop In Centre had prepared the donations by placing everything else in the new school bag so, as each child was called up, a helper passed the appropriate bag to me, and I presented it to the young scholar.

Distribution at Ko Dut Monastery.

Each child was then asked to put on the new uniform, with helpers giving assistance to the younger children, as necessary.

The work of presentation was not quite over. Each child then received a snack and soft drink which Jan assisted the helpers in distributing by moving among the seated children.

Snack and soft drink being given to children in their new uniforms.

Wearing their new uniforms, the students moved outside the assembly hall and sat in rows under a covered walkway for the 'group shot'. This took a few minutes as there were lots of cameras waiting to record the event. Someone then suggested that re-positioning everyone on nearby concrete steps would give a good effect, so all the children moved across and more pictures were taken.

Distribution at Ko Dut Monastery: The 'group shot'.

Doctor Hla Tun explained to me that the pupils we'd just seen came from seven schools in the area:-
Ko Dut Mon Ethnic School
Ko Dut Government Primary School
Ko Dut Government High School
Kot Cha Mon Ethnic School
Kot Cha Government School
Fel Gu School
Ku To Seik Mon Ethnic School.
We then drove to our final distribution of the day at the small Drop In Centre at Mot Ka Nin which I'd visited before. We were given the usual cordial greeting and all passed off smoothly.

Mok Ka Nin Drop In Centre.

Back in our car, we travelled back through La Mine to Ku To Seik Mon Ethnic School where various donations have been made in the past to assist in building completion. This was closed for the holidays but one of the teachers showed us around so that we could see the progress on the building.

Ku To Seik Mon Ethnic School.

I think I first visited Ku To Seik Mon Ethnic School in 2014 (as described here) and I returned in 2015 (as described here. This time, after inspecting the buildings, we didn't visit the nearby fishing village but instead returned to our accommodation in Ko Dut. I was relieved that the persistent drumbeat was not being played but the combination of heat, hard bed and my own joint pains meant that I still didn't get a very good night's sleep. During the night, there was a noisy thunderstorm then, after a delay, heavy, tropical rain for a while. By morning, there were only damp patches on the ground witnessing the earlier downpour.

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My Pictures

Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, pictures from may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the albums listed:-
Around Ko Dut.
Distribution at Ko Dut Monastery.
Mot Ka Nin Drop In Centre.

All my albums for Burma 2017.

[Photos added to text and minor changes: 16-Jul-2017]

Returning North

Events of Sunday 23rd April 2017

Fairly early, we loaded up the car and set off into the wooded hills. The road we took was narrow and twisting but, again, there was evidence of improvement work. At one point, a new reinforced concrete bridge was under construction. The stream being crossed was shallow enough that we were able to take a temporary route which forded the stream close by.

We passed an elderly carpenter working on the hull of a new wooden fishing boat so I realised we must be near a creek, which I spotted on our right. But I had not realised that the sea was close by on our left. As the road climbed a little, a beautiful white sand beach appeared on our left. The creek on our right opened out into a wide lake with a fleet of at least thirty sea-going, wooden-hulled fishing vessels moored.

Trip to Myaw Tit Pagoda: Moored fishing fleet.

The fishing vessels looked very gay, each with a number of floats for their nets stored on deck because each float was topped with a bamboo flagpole carrying a number of differently-coloured pennants. This was very similar to the smaller fishing vessels I'd seen the previous year at the Mergui Archipelago (there's a series of posts describing this trip here).

We continued on a very rough, narrow track which terminated in a small car park surrounded by souvenir stalls overlooking the sea. From the car park, a concrete pedestrian causeway led to a small island with pagodas. We had arrived at Myaw Tit Pagoda. Because it was early in the day, there was only one coach carrying pilgrims in the car park and we were able to explore the location whilst it was still peaceful.

The Causeway leading to Myaw Tit Pagoda.

After our visit, we drove back to Dawei, passing a number of coaches and pick-up trucks taking more pilgrims to Myaw Tit.

In Dawei, we said goodbye to the Doctor's relative and the Doctor, the Doctor's Mother and I transferred to a shared-taxi people carrier together with our luggage and quite a number of other passengers, giving quite a cramped experience on the way north. This time, we passed through the mountain section and the road improvements in the daylight and work was in progress. Our driver chose to stop at a restaurant high in the hills to allow his passengers to take food. His chosen venue won my award for the dirtiest cafe I've seen in Myanmar (and that was against some pretty stiff competition). We stopped for immigration formalities as we passed from Tanintharyi Division back to Mon State. In daylight, the location looked less like a set for a spy film set in Berlin than it had when we passed through in the middle of the night in the opposite direction less than two days earlier!

Returning North: The Border between Tanintharyi Division and Mon State.

We left the people carrier at a village on the main road north near to La Mine, together with some of the other passengers. I was delighted (and relieved) to see the lady who runs Ko Dut Drop In Centre, together with a car and driver. Having transferred all our luggage (again), we set off towards La Mine township.

About half an hour later, we pulled up at the small Drop In Centre of La Mine, which I'd visited before and most of the children there confirmed to the Doctor that they remembered my previous visits. The usual joyful proceedings followed as stationery and new school uniforms were distributed to the children. Attired in their new clothes, the children proudly posed for the 'group shot' on the steps of their Drop In Centre.

La Mine Drop In Centre - 2017

Back in the car, we carried on through La Mine and took the road to Ko Dut. On the outskirts of Ko Dut, we stopped at the school which has been under construction during the last few years, as funds permitted. I was delighted to see that it is now in use, forming part of the Government's Basic Education system.

We arrived at Ko Dut Drop In Centre, which now stands next to an almost-complete Government Health Clinic. Construction of this clinic had also been protracted because of funding problems. I learnt that, this year, we would not be staying overnight at the Drop In Centre which had been temporarily closed for refurbishment following use as dormitory accommodation by contractors working on the Clinic. Instead, we would sleep in a house in the village, a traditional wooden house where the Doctor and his Mother slept in the large upstairs room whilst I had a separate upstairs room. In my room, two mats covered part of the floor and a single blanket and pillow were provided.

Ko Dut - 2017: My bedroom, with the blue mosquito net awaiting deploymemt.

Helpers from the Drop In Centre rigged my mosquito net (a skill I've never had to acquire) and, after a friendly evening meal, I tried to backup my pictures before the electricity went off. In Ko Dut, a generator at the monastery provides power from 4.00 a.m. to 6.00 a.m. and from 4.00 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.

It was not a very quiet evening. Apparently, the monastery was conducting an appeal for funds to support the new intake of novices. The villagers were reminded of this appeal by continuously playing a loud, penetrating drumbeat. This 'music' was, I think, coming from one or more 'Wall of Sound' installations I'd spotted in various locations (but failed to photograph). Most eating establishments have at least one modern amplifier/loudspeaker arrangement in a rectangular box with impressive-looking loudspeakers. In the 'Wall of Sound' quite a few of these boxes, of various types and in different sizes, are bolted together to form a 'wall' at least eight feet square of fearsome appearance and producing deafening sound.

I didn't sleep particularly well on the hard floor in any case but, around 4.00 a.m. on Monday, the drumbeat started up again, alternating with modern Myanmar vocals.

Related Posts on this Website

Next Post describing this trip.
All 2017 Trip posts.

My Pictures

Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, pictures from may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the albums listed:-
Trip to Myaw Tit Pagoda.
Returning North.
La Mine Drop In Centre - 2017.
Around Ko Dut.

All my albums for Burma 2017.

[Links to pictures added: 2-May-2017, pictures added to post 19-Jun-2017]