What is love?

On valentine day, I am thinking about love. Since I was young, I have a strong faith in love. I believe a lot of people have done enormous effort in life because of love. For example, parents tried hard to find money for the sake of their children. Millions of people migrated overseas as they want their children to have better life than they have. A lot of scientists and doctors have discovered break throughs inventions and medications as their love for mankind is strong.

Recently I ended my 3 years relationship, but surprisingly, I am still holding my faith in love. And I believe I still love him and want him to become the best of what he can. I also believe that I have become so insecured in the relationship and I had no choice, but to leave the unhappy relationship. I do not believe love makes people suffer. I believe we make ourselves suffer because we fall for the people based on the way they make us feel. When we can adopt selfless love, we can either make our sufferings less or we can control our sufferings.

So I listened to the talk of Buddhist monk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIxNgdbAaMk. If you have not listened to him, I think you should because Ajah Braham has given me a lot of insight which I could not grip before.

In his lecture, he talked about a story around the time of Buddha and this is part of what he said.

Something is fundamental for love. And you might have already got understanding about love with a great suffering and distress.

From Buddhists perspective, what is this thing called love?

Some people think love is only something to do with romance. Historically , romantic love originate from 15th century .They created the culture of romantic love. Before that, there was no romance and it was just cave men culture .

However, romantic love should be investigated as it is celebrated in our culture . We don’t know why there is so much of suffering in that. Falls in love, what really is you fall for what that person is making you feel. You develop the sense of self worth. When love happens, you can trace the chemistry between people when they first fell for each other . After sometime, they cannot trace it anymore. It is good understanding where does it come from.

Around Buddha time, there was a queen and king. King was well loved by the queen. On one fine day, Queen was looking out from the window of the palace , she was wearing a big smile on her face. At that time, the queen was looking out towards Buddha who was walking together with other monks. Then The king saw her and he started to think may be the queen loves Buddha more than me. The king asked the queen “ who do you love more? Buddha or me?”. She said I love myself more than both of you. That is not the King expected and he was quite fascinated with the answer.

The King then went to Buddha and told about that. The Buddha said you have a wise wife.

From Ajahn Braham perspective, he could challenge the King why he had to be unhappy when he saw someone he loved was smiling. Instead of questioning her, he should be happy that his wife was happy.

Why this thing happened, life has so much of attachment and ownership.

Many of relationships are like that.  A lot of relationships are like “  I will help you and love you as long as you are mine “. That kind of love is possessive and that is not very noble kind of love. It is common and makes a lot of problem. In this life, Buddha said we do not have a lot of possession and we only have our loved ones very very short time and sooner or later, we all have to be separated. That is eternal truth and nobody can deny it. That is something we all know. The much more wise and deeper kind of love is loving someone despite if they are not with you anymore. When you love someone, you love for him when that person is happy.  It is kind of love when you have a child . I gave you my life, I want you to be happy. If you want to go out , you can go out. If you want to enjoy, you can. Selfless love is no string attached. It is detached love.

Another thing Ajahn Brahm said is forgiving and loving yourself despite all the mistakes you have done. You can repeatedly tell yourself ” I know I have done mistakes. I know I should not have done that. But in spite of all the things I have done, I have now determined to forgive myself and love myself “.

What I understand about paragraph is Buddhism is not encouraging people to make mistakes repeatedly and self medicated oneself to forgive. It is more than that. Buddha attitude is not dwelling on the past, not dwelling on the suffering and focusing on the present.

It is so difficult for me to focus on the present, but right now, I am writing this article and I am telling myself ” Hnin, you need to write this article . It’s because this is what you love doing. You love writing. You need to love yourself first and you need to look after yourself first “.

After this, I will go back to my room, lie down and will listen to the peaceful music. I hope you will have some peace , if not love, on this day. Happy Valentine Day.

why we need 90 years old people in our life

It has been a great opportunity that I am in touch with a lot of elderly people regularly. The truth is I always love them. My theory is elderly people and the little children are the same. They only want love from you without any other motives, the better thing about them is they are wiser than little kids. If you are lucky like me, you might even get a lot of tips from them.

When I first move to Isle of Man, (an isolated island in the Irish sea which has only 80000 population), I was amazed at the number of 90 years plus people. In Asia, life expectancy is shorter due to diseases and infection. It’s almost impossible to see a 90 year old living alone in Asia. Usually, elderly people are treated as a treasure in Asian families. The family units in Asia are usually like that, there is some family members who are working to have income. They may be either living inside the country or outside the country. But the rest of the family usually manage the households, they might be either cooking or sorting out the bills or repairing the stuff or house. Apart from that, the most important function of household members who do not have career is taking care of elderly people. For example, my two aunties are looking after my grandfather who is almost 90 year old now and I support them some contribution as I cannot physically be with my grandfather.

While the responsibility of household members is kind of balanced in Asia, the drawback of Asian mindset is they block their personal progress by making their age as an excuse . At around 50 plus, they usually decide they are too old to try anything new . At 60, they are quite eager to retire without any plan. They stop being active and start to rely more and more on the children. The problem is their children who are in their 40s have their own young children and sometimes they struggle to take care of both young generation and their parents.

In a country like Isle of Man, social service is excellent and most elderly people have a lot of social support . They can get on and get off any public transport without paying much as the fee is deducted or exempt at certain age. They do not need to pay for TV license once they reach age 75. They are entitled to have carer when they become frail even if they do not have a lot of money, etc.

But wonderful thing about elderly people is ” they are very considerate about others “. Two of my patients told me they feel bad for having a lot of medication to take. At first , I thought, they are having side effects of these medication. But they told me they feel bad that their medication might be costing a lot to the government. I was quite taken aback to hear that. These 90 years old people have gone through the World Wars, gone through economic depressions and worked very hard throughout their lives. They were dutiful tax payers, devoted children to their parents and responsible parents to their children. They are careful with their appointments and feel conscientious about timeliness. I have met 2 of my elderly patients who turned up dutifully even though there was a chaos in their house. One of them told me her husband had a fall and she needed to leave her confused husband with the son as she had to come to my clinic. I told her she can always call the hospital to cancel the appointment if she has some issues to solve at home. Some of them still turned up even they have aches and pains because they do not want to let me down. I have to tell them repeatedly I am happy to give them a call if they are not comfortable to come to the hospital . I also have some 80s year old patient who has no family members and his neighbour who is 92 years old is helping him with shopping and collecting medicine from pharmacy.

Elderly people are also the easiest people to be loved. They radiate certain way of calmness, they are more acceptant of their illnesses and can face the death more peacefully. A few times, I had to break the bad news to some elderly people and they seem empathic about my uncomfortable situation . Some of them even decide on their own they prefer to have comfortable pathway rather than having active treatment in hospital. In 3 years time, I have learnt a lot of lessons from them and one of them is ” how to let it go”. One particular thing they told me is ” don’t try to be on top of everything, it’s because you simply can’t “.

Now I am smiling broadly thinking about them.

Love

Hnin

Omelette and it’s memory

Today is Day 11 of Lock Down in Isle of Man. I am fortunate that I live in a place where people are sensible and abide to rules. I cannot see anywhere people do not wear masks even for children. When they are not wearing mask, it’s mainly because of their medical reason and the shops are almost empty although they are open everyday.

I have lived 12 years in Malaysia alone. So I am used to being alone and my partner has moved back to his parent’s house as I work for hospital and I am at risk of getting infection. In the future, we will live separately as I find it more and more difficult to live with someone now. I am going to get my vaccination tomorrow , and I am glad that I will be given that opportunity where other health professionals are struggling to get in other parts of the world.

My daily routine to make myself occupied are mostly house chores , watching Netflix and reading. Right now I am obsessed with Fran Lebowitz. I am hooked with her humour, and plain honesty. She said that the reason she likes kids are because they do not have cliche’s. I totally agreed with her. When we get older, we lost originality and even we lost ourselves. We sometimes forget what we want in our live and what we are striving for. As a child, I always wanted to be a writer, and I have lived past 40 years with a doubt that I cannot be one . But what I am sure is I always get joy whenever I can write. So even if I don’t turn up to become a writer, I don’t want to stop writing.

Today, I cooked an omelette. I chopped onion, tomatoes and chillies. Then I put a bit of oil in a big pan, heated the oil and put the onion first. When onion was golden, I put vegetables and made them cook slightly then poured the scrambled eggs and wait until it’s cooked. The aroma of the omelette is amazing. I put the omelette on the table, made a cup of tea myself, looked at my amazing sea view and had my lock down breakfast. I am obviously starting to feel like I am in a retreat.

My aromatic omelette
The view from my window

Like other people, I feel the despair of this pandemic. I miss my family back in Burma and Malaysia to whom I have not seen for 2 years. But I have a family here who has looked after me and friends who are always there for me.

In Netflix, there is a series called ” Mid night diner”. It is about a Japanese restaurant in downtown which opened only at night. The chef has a scar on his face and he is very good at cooking. But what makes this diner special is he always cooks on the demand of the customer. So people come in and one ask potato salad exactly tasted like his mother’s salad or some girls can request for salmon soup etc. He always has ingredients to satisfy customers ( both tummy and souls). The customers come from various background and a lot of them feel lonely at home. I agree that the food can be linked to memory of people , especially our loved ones.

Whenever I eat omelette, I think of my previous student. I used to work as a part time English teacher when I finished my final exam in Medical University. I needed money as the salary I earned as a trainee was not enough. Instead of working at GP clinic as a locum, I chose to become a teacher. I love teaching and I love seeing people who are not sick at the end of my shift at hospital. My student ” The The ” was 14 when I first met her. I still remember she was wearing a T shirt with a short pants and she had a peculiar hair style. My first opinion on her was she might be a Tom boy as she was always boyish. I have loved her once I met her in 2000 or may be early 2001. To make the lessons interesting, I took her to various places such as the park and the lake. We used to climb big trees and I used to teach her vocabularies of everything she could see in her view. I also found out she is very intelligent and skipped her classes 2 years ahead. She graduated at the age of 15 and entered the college in Malaysia at the age of 16 plus where her peers were way much older than her. Eventually, her maturity and English level surpassed me and she now works in Australia after graduating from 2 universities in 2 continents. She is a successful, independent woman today. Our bonding continues to grow and we have deep sense of understanding for each other.

The The enjoying her Shan food at one of our trips together

When I started working in Malaysia , the job was tough for me as I did not work 36 hours continuous duty in Myanmar. Myanmar rotas are much less tiring than Malaysian work routines. I was exhausted at the end of the shift, but still enjoyed the time. I could not speak Malaysian language for first 3 months and it was a struggle to communicate with Malaysian patients. I was also bullied by the pengarah of the district hospital and he did not allow me to move to another hospital. The hospital was lovely and the staff always stood for me and helped me to overcome that. The staff had made the petition and finally I was moved to a bigger hospital with the best facility for training in Pahang State.. To this day, I feel tremendous amount of gratitude to Malaysian people and my colleagues who stood for me that particular period of time. I am also glad that I proved to everyone I am a competent and ethical doctor wherever I worked in Malaysia.

During these troubled time, I took a break and went to stay with The The in Kuala Lumpur. She was a student and had to live on the tight amount of budget sent by her parents as her university was expensive and she did not have income by herself. She rented a tiny room in one of the condos in KL and the kitchen and toilet need to be shared by 2 tenants with an owner . I still remember she cooked for me an omelette, exactly what I cook today. The difference between aromatic and non aromatic omelette is you need to keep the egg in the pan until it’s dry enough to let out the smell.

Today, I smiled a lot while I was having my breakfast.

Love

Hnin

Very blurry photo we took together at the dawn waiting for the bus to go back to Yangon

If I won a million dollars lottery

I don’t know how many people have thought of ” what would I do if I won a million dollars? “, with or without buying a lottery ticket. I am one of the 2nd group and I rarely buy any lottery tickets. The surprising thing is I felt happier to dream of having a lot of money when I was younger rather than when I am in my 40s.

In fact, I get slightly scared when I think of owning a lot of money. I have never imagined myself living in a mansion or driving an expensive car. I most probably will spend a lot on charity and travelling. In theory, it is nicer to stay in 5 star hotels than a budget hotel in theory. But I will still prefer some cosy budget hotel where I might meet more interesting group of travellers.

As a child, I grew up seeing filthily rich people. For example, my grandparents lived in a mansion with several bedrooms. They were one of a few people who could afford television and Mercedes in 1970s. But the people like my grandparents who earned money by their own sweat and tears rarely spent money extravagantly. My grand parents married when they were 15 and 18. They had almost nothing in their early marriage as they came from a rural area. But my late grandmother tried very hard to progress . I still remember how much she took effort in everything, making money and entertaining influential people. I did not envy their life because there was so much of effort. I am quite lazy and rarely want to talk to anyone just for business. When I was young, my grand mother asked me to sit as a cashier at one of her restaurants. I hated it, it was the most boring job in the world , looking at some random guys coming to the shop, ordered only a cup of tea and sat there for hours. My grand mother did not like it when she found out I was reading a lot of books.. I never fit in with my grand mother. I was not obedient , not clever with money and not motivated to earn anything. She always tried to buy my affection by giving me some jewellery . The next day, I always gave them back to my late grand father. It’s because I found it is a huge responsibility to keep an expensive item. Well, if I Had a million dollars and if my grandparents were still alive, I know what I would do. I would give it to them. They tried very hard to raise 4 sons and did not want to get back anything from them. Grandma would have loved to travel Europe in a cruise.

I can’t believe I am trying it hard to imagine what I would do when I had a million dollars. May be I can do these things

  1. I will demolish my cottage and transformed it into a very modern, energy efficient house with glasses as the walls. I will make the stairs wider and and wheel chair friendly.
  2. I will buy a new car which is environmentally friendly.
  3. I will definitely spend half a million on saving the rain forests and planting .
  4. I will travel all over the world and live in India for 3 months to practice meditation at an Ashram.

Or May be , I don’t want to own a million dollars at all.

Hnin

Day 3 of lockdown (my thoughts )

A friend called me to go out walking and she claimed she could walk 12 feet away from me. I rejected it because

1) I had 2 falls and I am not going to risk my remaining bones to get injury 2) I hate cold weather, it does not make me feel happy walking in cold weather.

The only thing I can do now is dance with happy music and eat less shitty diet than I did in the last lock down. So I cooked vegetable with chicken, and I am very happy. I am even surprised that I am that happy. I was not a happy person for last few months. And I see a lot of opportunities I can do during this lock down. I can go back to writing which I am passionate about. When I was young around 10 years old , I wrote some scripts for short plays. I directed other children how to act for the play and I chose the characters all by myself. My dad hired the musicians who could play the sound track for us and I was always the one who was either a clown or a narrator. We called it than-chat in Burmese. I know I am not good looking and too clumsy to dance for the main character. So I orchestrated other kids to perform. To be fair, it was a delight for my neighbours to watch our shows, ( may be they felt pity for my dad, I am not sure, we were always given some snack and pocket money for performing that time

All my childhood, I dreamt to become an author. Seriously, I still do. I can be a late bloomer, hehe. My dad has been my forever fan he would never say I could not do anything. He knows his first child is odd and stubborn. But if I say something I want to do, his suggestion would be ” why not?”. He supported me with painting, music, acting and writing. He was also quite glad when I left the home gleefully and did not come back for 5 years to Burma. My dad gave me 500 US dollars when I left Burma for good and he did not even ask me ” do you have enough money?” when I first migrated to Malaysia even when he knew I did not have income for weeks in a foreign land . He knew I would face so many hurdles in life as I grew up so wrapped up and did not know how to cook rice in rice cooker. But he gave me faith and inspiration, the best thing parents could give to children. As a child, we used to go to the farm owned by my late grandparents. It was 100 acres land with deer, parrots and snakes inside. There were lots of bamboo trees and we used to pick up bamboo shoots for fun so that our parents could cook vegetables we picked as dinner. That land had streams and inlets connected to river. In the summer, the streams were dry and you could lie on the sand. It gave you cool feeling when your back lay on wet sand. I was lying next to my best friend and I told her ” this is practically a forest, what if a tiger lives here?”. She said ” it’s unlikely, your grandparents could have warned us if there was one “. Then I imagined next story , I told her ” what if water come and we will be swept away by tide “. It did happens several times and flush floods can kill cows and buffalos. Then we convinced ourselves it is a dangerous thing to fall asleep in the dry stream and we left. What I am trying to say is I am always inclined towards story telling than doing anything. Thank God, I am now a good doctor, but it was never my plan. When I finished 10th Grade, I told my dad I am going to live my dream that is I am either going to be a historian, or a tourist guide who shows archaeological sites to strange foreigners, or simply English teacher, if not a CNN news announcer or an author. I told him that was what I wanted to do ( i.e living with uncertainty and living on the edge. From the books I read as a teenager, it was utterly sexy and romantic not to have money and to talk about poems and books all days long and of course mingling with interesting people ). I also imagined myself travelling the world, falling in love or simple sleep around with a few guys and have children out of wedlock. My dad knew I just wanted to be a mother with or without a husband that time. He said I could get IVF if I could afford to fund myself. That is exactly what he told me that time when I was 19. It was not something an Asian parent would suggest to their teenaged daughter , but my dad has been always extra ordinary in parenting.

He also asked me that ” why don’t you want to become a doctor?” I told him I don’t want to be a doctor because I saw many doctors are just simply miserable. I find them not amusing, monotonous and socially very odd ( I know I am odd but at least I don’t think I am better than anybody just being a doctor , I don’t think I am doing noble things, I am just doing it because I have been doing this job for a long time and I can’t think of any profession which can fund me ). But my dad told me this theory ” Hnin, when you become a doctor, then you will have money. Then you can read history and can be historian later, may be in your 40s or 50s, or English teacher or CNN news announcer or an author. But all of these professions cannot go back and do doctor thing .You cannot reverse this order. You can be a doctor who writes. Don’t you think it’s cool ?”So I submitted my application to university with tears. My application form was soaked with tear and it was stained yellow as I cried very hard. For several years in university, I spent my time, revenging my father by not attending classes, not passing the exams, ( sometimes just purposely by not writing at all in the answer paper ). I always thought my dad tricked me into studying Medicine which I simply did not want to do . But my professors who knew me during university repeatedly told me I am exceptionally bright although I was so odd. I could memorise whole chapter in one day, did not sleep 48 hours and still passed the exam if I wanted to. The day when I wanted to be good at medicine was the day I realised how scary would it be if I have to take responsibility for other people’s well being. I asked myself ” Am I ok to harm people in case if I don’t know enough, if I am not skilled enough, if I am just being an idiot?”. My answer was No, so I started reading second year courses only in 3rd year and 3rd year study only in 4th year. I was always reading only after exam more which puzzled my classmates. I told them, I study better when I am not under pressure. I simply read just because I enjoy it. A lot of my colleagues asked me ” why you know too much ?”, it’s because I read a lot and I also had a lot of experiences in my career working many different hospitals, both tertiary hospitals and district small hospitals. And I realise doctors are not freaks as I imagined, but they are just simply miserable from time to time. I have worked with many exceptionally talented consultants and some of them can be very odd. But I love working with them. I love their dry sense of humour, their sarcastic comments and I am getting used to discussion about body fluids and excretions during lunch breaks. Today is my 8th year anniversary in creating my writing blog. And I am reflecting what I achieved. I realise I am bad at doing it, haha. I only have 65 followers who regularly follows my blog, half of them may be just following because they want me to follow them back and I did not do it. I did not simply follow people just because they follow me. Why should I do that? A few of them really like my writing and some of them are also good writers. Today, people from at least 55 countries have read my blog . THat is not a bad thing, but also not a very good thing either. Someone who stripped off and showed her breasts in her blog might be getting more followers than me. But bloggers at least do not behave like people in instagram. A lot of us simply write because we enjoy it. We do not even care whether people read or not. This lockdown is giving me opportunity to write because that is what I always love doing. When I have nobody with me to distract, it is also giving me opportunity to reflect and to think. I am now even euphoric thinking about it. Next day, I might look at what I wrote today and might feel utterly appalled. But that’s what writers do. My late aunties who was a psychiatrist always reminded me I would be just Jack of all Trades and would not be able to concentrate much on one thing, today would be piano addiction, next day singing and next day I would be doing something else. But I do not like people much and even if I am appallingly miserable sometimes, she believes that I am inclined to be more maniac than depressed. In her definition , I am more like hypomaniac than depressive. So she was teaching me about personality traits and disorders when I was only 14. I usually sat at her clinic, looked at all patients came to her clinic and I was diagnosing them as ” this patient is alcohol addicts, that is bipolar, that is schizophrenic “. My late aunty always thought I would go far one day, not because I am clever, but because I am very curious in people’s personality and behaviour.For past 45 years, I fooled the world that I am an extrovert. But in reality, I don’t like people that much and simply annoyed by a lot of them. In fact, I am amazed at how much people could annoy me in a very short period of time. I have a few people I love and most of them are children. And I love people who said they are asshole, I even fell in love with one of them in 2013 and indeed, he was such an asshole, then whose fault is it? I love people who are honest and do not pretend they are otherwise cool. I love people with flaws, but still respect a lot of them who are ethical and fair and people who show consideration to others. I know where I am heading to. When I am 60, I will be a very opinionated, annoying , sarcastic , self absorbed old lady. And I know I will be fine as long as I can write what I want to.

By the way, I do not believe 100% what Fran Lebowitz said, I believe everybody has a good story , at least one, but only a few people have courage to bring it out. But I am very much amused by the quote.

#day2of writing #day3oflockdown

Thank you for the music

It’s winter time in Isle of Man ( an island near UK where I am living ) and temperature is minus 4 today. I am very intolerant to the cold temperature and decided not to go out. I had a recent two events of falls and I am now terrified of walking on the road with black ice. Falls are quite common and especially this is not the right time to get any injury as our A&E is already overstretched .

I am now thinking of writing a story per day to uplift my mood. Writing is very comforting. So I am now going to write about the music and how much it has helped me during the troubled years. My dad’s family is very much musically inclined. My dad has 4 siblings and when they were young, almost all of them tried to play at least one musical instrument. My dad decided to learn accordion and they also bought the piano at home. My dad even had a very famous accordion player as his mentor. His name was accordion Ohn Kyaw and he composed a lot of songs himself.

When I was very young, our house had a lot of celebrities as visitors. Dad usually liked to invite them and offered them plenty of food and drinks. Dad decided to record a few songs with one of the top bands in Burma. His song was aired on radio and to our amazement, the song was selected as one of the best songs. May be it was his beginner’s luck or what, I am not sure. When I heard my dad’s song on radio, it gave me mixed feeling. I was proud of him, but also a little bit embarrassed to let people know the singer was my father. But I can say that music has been in our blood and in our heritage. Throughout my childhood , dad encouraged me to play the xylophone, then the flute , the guitar and the piano. TO be frank, I don’t think I learnt very much, but I always day dreams to play one musical instrument well even till now at the age of 45 . My motto is ” why should I stop now? music has no age limit”

Dad recording at the Burmese broadcasting area

Then when I was 15, my adopted uncle gave me a guitar as the birthday present. I ran up and down , holding it and very excited. The problem was there was nobody who could teach me. So my parents hired a professional lead player from the women band called Venus. She was not very interested in my progress, but charged a lot to my parents. After awhile, I noticed I was not learning much, so I asked my parents to stop the lessons. Then mom and dad searched for different music instructors, the blind musician is one of them. I remember that musician was pretty good and he taught me to tap my feet when I played any beats. He could not see and born blind, but his hearing capacity was very good and he always knew which string I was pressing wrong. Along the way, I also ran into a few music instructors who came to house, smelt of alcohol and who were using narcotics and drugs. But they all were talented on their own. Sometimes, music, drug and alcohol are quite interrelated and all of them are dreamers.

what I am trying to say here is I have been always a slow learner when I have to do anything with my hands. It took me years to play the guitar ok, But I have been always resilient. I did not learn much from any of these professional people. yes, I tried and my dad spent a lot of money on them. But I did not learn much from them. Instead , my youngest brother who was 8 years younger than me without any proper guidance, started to play the guitar on his own and able to write the song at the age of 15. He is one of the most talented musicians. A lot of singers are good, but not many people can compose like my brother. His songs are very heart warming. Today, he earns money doing what he loves the most, which is writing the songs. I am not surprised when his daughters start to sing and dance even when they were very little. I know we will support any of our family members if they choose music as the career.

One day, I was practising the guitar with two of my neighbours. They played better than me. I felt so downhearted that time thinking how stupid I was . I was not playing well after two years of practising under professional guitarists. Then there was a boy who was the nephew of my music instructor . That time, I went to their house to get the lesson. His name was Aung and he was only two years older than me. He was kind and always treated me like a younger sister. He offered to give me extra lesson without charging anything. He cycled to my house and brought his own guitar.

He taught me everything he knew and encouraged me to start with very easy chords. After learning every two chords, he searched a song for me so that I could sing. Since then, I learnt a lot of songs and we always had a good time together. As I did not have a real brother, I remember I was attached to him like my own brother. We always had a good time together and he lent me one of the best quality guitars. That time, Burma was under military regime and it was difficult to get foreign made products. His dad was a sailor and he brought many good guitars for Aung from overseas. I used to practice so hard that my finger tips started to bruise and bleed sometime. I was advised to put the fingers in the icy water after practice until they become keratinised.

During my medical school years, during political turmoil with lock down, during my lonely years, music has been one of my few inspirations to keep going. Music makes me cry, makes me laugh, makes me fall in love , makes me feel nostalgic and makes me healed.

Thank you for the music.

Love

Hnin

Paddington bear or my remedy for winter blue

We were all troubled in 2020, if we are still alive for God’s grace, our minds are still worried nonstop, if we are not worried for ourselves, we worry for families who are in difficult situations such as losing jobs and losing family members.

In 2020, I have always searched for inspirational movies , I am quite sick of watching misery and violence. I have enough drama either in hospital or at home. Fortunately, I found a few movies and series which I really like . My favourite series are ” Emily in Paris “. I know she can be annoying and too perky, but I like her positive outlooks on life and all her dresses are so pretty in the movie. I also like ” Queen Gambit ” so much that I finished all series in 3 days. It is so inspiring and soul lifting especially for women. Yes, it is always hard for a woman to be successful and the movie reflects a lot about real life. I know nothing about chess, but I enjoyed Queen Gambit a lot.

Yesterday, I watched a short movie clip about Paddington bear. It was released in 2014, but I am not sure why I never watched it then. Paddington is a rare type of bear who comes from the deepest part of Peru. He was adopted by a very loving elderly couple bears Aunty Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo. They learnt English from the explorer who accidentally made friends with them in the forest.

Later, uncle Pastuzo died during the storm and Aunty Lucy encouraged Paddington to go to London. The whole movie was about adventures of Paddington who is kind and innocently believes in simple goodness of the life. He believes being polite and being kind will bring him success and even though he faced some difficulties and cruelty, he always was saved by some kind people. He hid in a boat in the ship and arrived London without knowing anyone or any address in particular. Luckily , he met a kind woman, Mary Brown ( sally Hawkins ) who decided to keep the unknown bear at home merely out of kindness. At first Mr Henry Brown ( husband ) refused to take a bear home, but later obliged the wish of his beloved wife. They named him Paddington as they met him at the Paddington station.

The movie characters are all English actors except a few such as Nicole Kidman. The sound track and setting are nice. The houses in London are fairly identical to the real ones, I am not sure whether they did the shooting in London. The movie displays characters of neighbours and some of them are pretty amusing.

The morale of the story is different species or different treat each other as a family member and look out for each other. Overall, it is a very family friendly movie which can give you warm feelings at the end.

Thank you for reading.

Hnin

coastal walk in July

I walk this summer 2020 more than last year. Its partly because I cannot travel. In the first place, I came to work in  Europe with the reason of travelling. In the first year, I was able to travel only 3 countries due to work commitment and shortage of budget. 2nd and early 3rd year, I was busy with my studies. I finished all my exams which I insanely decided to take and now , like other people I am stuck  with covid situation and lock down when I finally able to relax and travel.

The island I am living is called Isle of Man and it is a small island in Irish sea between Ireland and uk. Its a bit bigger than Singapore but only have 80000 population compared to 5 millions in Singapore. Isle of Man have many hidden beaches and glens. This year I decided to walk Raad Ny Foillan , coastal path which is 100 miles in total length. Raad Ny Foillan means way of the gulls in Gaelic. It is interrrupted coastal walk to see the entire nation.

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I am an explorer with zero sense of direction , but I still wander into unknown place all the time. My cousins nicknamed  me Miss the Lost World. But past bad experience has not convinced me to stop exploring. My balance is equally bad as I have small feet compared to my body weight. I had multiple ankle sprains in the past.

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Coastal walk is the best with wild flowers in s

My boyfriend is  always my biggest supporter and my walking talking GPS. He needs a little push in the beginning but able to walk once he becomes fully awake which is a very difficult process. Walking him up needs alarm with snoozes, purposely annoying him by opening the lights and windows, showering him with kisses and last threatening him I would not plan any activities with him next summer. Well, after all these tectics, he still needs 2 hours to be fully awake.

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Squeaky bridge

We went to Port Grenaugh to walk to DerbyHeaven. It is 4.5 miles coastal walk.

 

We were aware it would rain but determined to walk 2 hours none the less. It was rugged coastline with churred rocks and slippery narrow coastal path . One needs to be careful not to step on the shrubs at the edge.

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I am ok with climbing up but not ok with climbing down. Steve had to go ahead of me and I needed to hold his shoulder as support. We found several caves and coves. Some cove are like small private swimming pool as the area is completely surrounded by rock.

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Small cove at the tip of the rock or you have different English word for that. Lol

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I can imagine these rocks were fragmented from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago

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A big cave

Sometimes the pathway ends abruptly as footpath was lost in land erosion..Then we needed to get inside private farm land to continue walking. Its very kind of farmers to allow strangers to pass through their land. I was nervous about cows as I was wearing bright red jacket. When we were young, we were told bulls do not like red color and tend to charge at people wearing one. MY boyfriend said it is a myth .  But I could not do anything as I was wearing bright red shirt underneath jacket. I tried not to look back at staring bulls.  If they could talk, they might have told us to get out.

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The pathway ends with a gate and it belongs to farmers

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Passing through private land

We saw a hidden beach called Port Soldrick.  It was middle of nowhere and formed from a gorge. Gorge is a place between two valleys. I am always excited to find out hidden beaches. My friend told me about name of beach just recently.

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PORT SOLDRICK

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My boyfriend needed to go back as he was working evening shift . I was in dilemma whether I should continue the walk  alone without him. I asked him like a child whether I would be ok to walk alone without him. He showed me direction how to get a bus back to Douglas once I arrive Castle Town. The path ends at Derbyheaven and I need to walk from there to Castle Town to get a bus. At that moment, I thought walking alone may be theraputic to calm myself and good to upgrade my confidence. We parted after kissing and hugging * ( I know its cheesy but we are still very much in love after 3 years of dating ). If he can, my boyfriend would choose to sit and play games all day. But unfortunately, he ended up with crazy girl friend who is restless and tend to get lost easily . So he ends up walking many places with me and he said he enjoys walking with me in nature. When I am with other friends, I miss him a lot.

Back to my story , I walked alone after enjoying newly discovered beach called Port Soldrick. After half km, I ended up at blind end with a locked gate. I frantically called back Steve as there is no bus service from Port Grenaugh to Douglas unless I walk for hours. Steve unfortunately did not pick up the phone. I ran like a goat to catch up with him. Luckily he was waiting for me near the narrow path to be my human walking stick

He said ” I know you need help with this downhill” with a grin. I told him ” may be God does not want me to walk alone ” and I really mean it. Well, I can talk all days how much I love him and I have many reasons to love him. Walking with me is just one of them. 😊

Hnin

Mull circle , Chasms and Fleshwick bay ( Places to see near Port Erin in Isle of Man )

If you want to have some adventures and if you are not afraid of paranormal places, you have to go to Mull circle and Chasms. Both of them are walking distance to Cregneash village , a popular tourist destination in South of the island ( Isle of Man ). I have a walking enthusiastic friend called Heather who walks extensively in Isle of Man. Last year, Heather walked more than 1500 miles and she is planning to achieve similar or more this year.  Today, we picked Heather in Port Erin on the way to Mull Circle so that we could  spend time with her while walking. We drove to Cregneash village ( a village which has been maintained the same like 200 years ago with lots of stony houses and farm  ). We parked our car at allocated car parking space near Cregneash village. ( please read my other blog about Cregneash village if you are interested )

We had to walk uphill slowly until we reach the areas where Isle of Man people built look out places in World War II where the soldiers detected traffic of air crafts by using radar system.

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remnants of World War II buildings

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The view f Cregneash village ( you can see small chimney on the left side of the photo ) and the calf of man ( a small island where you can observe colonises of seals )

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Steve and Heather ahead of me

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Heather and me , I am still wearing my usual hat even in the summer. 🙂

Mull circle has six pairs of graves and they were built as burial sites for Vikings or important people in late Neolithic time ( 3500 BC ).  It is at such a strategic view where you can see whole of Port Erin town and part of Port St Mary.

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Mull Circle with six pairs of graves which are connected to each other with passages

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the zoom in view of a big house which belongs to a very prominent figure in Isle of Man ( taken from Mull Hill )

The unusual ring of stones has been well known to local people, but it does not have a good name. People have told stories about sudden disorientation here, weird moving lights, some have heard unexplained sounds – as if galloping invisible horses. Most impressive is the story about a ghostly army of horsemen riding along the stone ring .
Despite its name Meayll Hill Stone Circle (Meayll in Manx means “bald”) is not a true megalithic stone circle (like Stonehenge) – it is a unique group of passage graves.

Local historian P.M.C.Kermode and Scottish scientist W.A.Herdman organized first excavations in the mysterious stone circle – one in August – September 1893 (results published in 1904) and next – in 1911 (published in 1914). A.S.Henshall explored the graves in 1971 (published in 1978).
Findings show that Meayll people were skilled potters who produced diverse, richly decorated vessels. There were found many sherds of these vessels. These urns were used to hold the remains of the deceased – in each burial cist were placed several such urns. There were found also cremated bones, flint arrowheads, knives and – rounded white quartz pebbles. Some of these can be seen in Manx Museum.

As the result of repeated excavation plus attempts of treasure hunters, there is nothing much left in Mull circle apart from those stones which are erected more than 5000 years ago

credit :    https://www.wondermondo.com/meayll-hill/

After leaving Mull hill, we headed towards Chasms and Spanish Head of Isle of Man.

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we need to pass through Cregneash village to go to Chasms

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Stony cottages of Cregneash village

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On the way to Chasms, we can see the man of Calf , a small island of seals again in this photo

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Cows enjoying the sunny day

The way to Chasms is a downhill path towards a building called Chasm café ( some people call is Sugarloaf café ). It was quite easy to reach there. But the hard part is going beyond the gate and fence where you need to walk around the deep creeks of the rock . The gate can be found near the café and it leads to the cliff. As the creeks are covered superficially by bushes and shrubs, one can easily fall into the deep creeks into the sea.

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The creek in the rock

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creek in the rock 

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The sign next to the creek “Visitors should be aware that this site could be dangerous without proper care and attention “

Historically, it has been a dangerous place and that is why children and pets are not allowed to go beyond the fence. Recently 51 year old man died after falling into the creek near Chasms.

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On the way to Chasms, the building in this photo is a café called  Chasms and it has been closed for years

Chasms is an amazing rock formation in Isle of Man which is the home of hundreds of puffin birds. Unfortunately, it is not reachable by public and puffins cannot be observed up close unless you have a good pair of binoculars. Sugar loaf rock can be seen properly if you take a boat trip from Port St Mary to Man of Calf island. As I don’t have good balance, both Heather and Steve , my boy friend prohibited me from walking beyond the gate. So I took some pictures from far.

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Chasms and Sugarloaf from far

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if you see carefully, you can see groups of white color dots, puffin staying on the rock

 

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we did not go beyond the fence as it is not very safe

More than that, I found out there are some hearsay stories about Chasms as some people have witnessed ghostly women walking or running around Chasms . So I would not recommend to go there without any companion and it would be better if one can go there during the day time instead of evening or night time .

http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/gazateer/sugarlf.htm

We tried to stay inside the fence and walk around until we can see glimpse of sugarloaf rock formation where puffins live. I could see colonies of puffins but it was hard to appreciate their details. Even without sighting of puffin birds, sugarloaf is still a beautiful thing to observe.

We walked around Chasms and admired people who have courage to walk on the rock with deep creeks. A few of them came back and they looked tired. Steve said falling into the creek is so much different from falling into the open sea as you most probably get injured during fall and nobody will be able to rescue you as the creeks are deep and narrow.

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people who are walking beyond the fence on the narrow path of the cliff

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The farm land near Chasms

As I am now writing about Mull circle and Chasms, I am going to include Fleshwick bay in this article. Fleshwick bay is a hidden beach near Port Erin, but quite far from Cregneash. You need to drive out of Port Erin Town and go towards Surby road. From Surby road, you need to drive towards the farmer cottages with narrow lanes. Car parking on the road is quite difficult as the roads are narrow. Next to the bay, there is a limited car parking space, but it can be crowded especially during summer.

My favourite of the trip to Fleshwick bay is driving down towards the beach where you can see isolated house surrounded by mountains. It is such a breath taking view and I can never get tired of that view .

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On the way to Fleshwick Bay

Fleshwick baby is a gorgeous beach and suitable for people who like kayaking. You can also climb up mountains surrounding the bay and can enjoy panoramic view of the bay.

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We saw some ducklings with their mommy duck and Steve was pretty much fascinated by them .

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Mama Duck and her obedient babies
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Fleshwick  Bay
I will write more about Isle of Man as I have no where to go because of lock down. I hope you enjoy reading this and hopefully more people can visit this beautiful island in the future.

Thank you

Hnin

 

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Dhoon glen, Isle of Man

Dhoon glen is one of the steepest glen in Isle of Man (an island in the Irish sea between UK and Ireland ). Isle of Man is a small island with 80000 population and the isle has many legends associated with fairies . Many folks believe in fairies and some of them even claim fairies have visited them. But when you visit glens, you develop some delusions that may be fairies do exist there. It is because you can see a dense  canopy of trees,  beautiful wild flowers, tress covered with mosses along rivers and they do look like places for fairies. TO make your imagination wild, some areas have crafted tiny houses and statues, purposely arranged to look like fairy houses. Isle of Man also has a landmark on the main road  to airport where people  say ” hello” to fairies so that you will not have bad luck on the island. Even the buses have installed personal announcement saying ” Hello Fairies ” when the buses pass  that particular landmark.

Dhoon glen is a big glen on the coastal pathway to Ramsey ( northern part of island ). In 1800s, it  used to be a popular  tourist destination as there used to be a small passenger ship ” Manx fairy ” which ran daily  from Douglas to Ramsey and Dhoon bay used to be transit point where tourist could get off the ship in small boats  to spend the time on the beach or to wander in the forests surrounding the glen . In late 19th century, around 8000 visitors by sea and further 42,000 visitors by road visited Dhoon glen in a typical season. When electric Tram arrived in 1897 to isle of man, it boost the number of tourists to Dhoon glen and the glen even started charging tourists 1.5 pence per person . Nowadays, Isle of Man does not have many tourists like before and not many people go to Dhoon glen  as the steps are quite steep ( 190 steps ) and there are many more open glens in Isle of Man where you can reach easily by car. It also adds extra bonus to Dhoon glen because you can still relax there on your own as it is not a crowded place.

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Dhoon bay ( stony beach )

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panorama view of Dhoon bay where boats used to come to drop off tourists

The waterfall half way down the valley is the inner Wooar or Big girl and is one of the highest waterfalls in the island falling over 40 metres ( 130 ft ) in two drops.

Hnin at waterfall
base of waterfall

waterfall lowest
waterfall have large volume of water when there is rain

We went there in May , 2020 in the evening. In isle of man , you can still see the sun till 8 pm in May as it is spring. We had difficulty to park the car that time as there were more than usual number of visitors as it was on Saturday. You can see the Manx tram station ” Dhoon glen ” at the entrance of the glen. After passing the railway, there is a small landing area with big trees where you can sit and relax.

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near the entrance of Dhoon glen beside the main road

Then we went down the stairs on the left side. If you turn to right side, you might end up going to the wrong direction. Stairs are made of Manx stone and they are not the nicest stairs as they are uneven . The pathway can be slippery with dry leaves and mud. Before you go to the area of waterfalls, you need to pass through the forest which is so beautiful as the sun rays falling through the leaves.

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dense canopy of trees before starting of waterfall

After passing through the forest, we walked along the pathway in parallel with the river. The flow of water from the river and tweeting of birds were very soothing to our souls.

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pathway parallel to the river

gorgeous stream

As it is the spring season, we could see wild flowers along the pathway. The flowers are called blue bells and they look like velvet carpet . Blue bells can have other colours such as white and pink.

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can you see the blue bells mingling with grass on the slope and near river bank

We passed through many steps with varying heights and we had to be careful as we could easily slip and fall.

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My friend Denise enjoying the view of river

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My friend Nang carefully crossing the narrow bridge

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beginning of waterfall ( after these small drops, there are two big drops of waterfall, total height 130feet )

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The narrow path before reaching Dhoon bay

We walked past the waterfall towards the beach. The path has small waterfalls which finally lead to two big drops of waterfall. The total height is 130 feet and it was a bit tiring especially for me as I tend to get muscle ache easily . It took me longer time to arrive beach and it was nice to see my friends were settled at the beach and waving at me.

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My friend Nang waving at me from the beach

The beach is ragged and full of pebbles and stones.

pebbles at beach

I found a  big flat stone where I lied down and had a nap as I was very tired at the end of trekking although it was only 2 miles . I looked at the blue sky and thought of my blessings with nature. As usual, I said thank you to the place for having me for a few hours before I left. I will write about other glens as soon as I have enough time. Thank you for reading my blog.

Hnin

real live experience regarding travels, meeting strangers and daily life.