Sunday, May 16, 2004

Bypassing Bagan

Not much electricity lately. BaganNet has allowed its dial-up users the Internet access through tight firewall rules using DansGuardian content filtering software and squid proxy server. Many websites are still banned. http://www.wired.com is one of them. http://mail.yahoo.com, hotmail.com, and almost all free web hosting services. Definitely irrawaddy.org The list goes on.

Still people are figuring out how to bypass the firewall. I have seen local kids going to banned sites using proxy services even at the local Internet cafes.

Free e-mails are banned but kids are figuring out how to use thousands of open free e-mail sites. Such as coolpets.com, centralpets.com, newyork.com, and the list goes on.

Kids are definitely catching up.

Oh, no ssh, ftp access for its dial-up users yet.

The price of the dial-up access has gone down from 48,000 Kyats to 28,000 Kyats.

By the way, famous actor Lwin Moe from Burma has got his website up and running at www.lwinmoe.com Not to be confused with me.

I am not an actor. I am not a star and I don't even have my own car :-) Here is an ordianary citizen, me, listening to BBC in Nan Sam Yang village, northern Burma in Kachin State.


Sunday, May 02, 2004

Electricity

While I was writing my diary, the electricity went out. So I was able to finish up to the picture of Taung Gyi. The electricity is not reliable these days. We have electricity every other night. Shortage of energy causes blackouts a lot. I was going to write about a failure of electrical power in my Aloha news, but then I couldn't because I couldn't use my computer without electricity. My school days in the States have spoiled me, and I didn't want to write with pen and paper. Blackout has caused me to update my diary intermittently.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The View from Nam San Yang Church, Northern Burma in Kachin State




It was cloudy outside. We were all sitting inside the Nam San Yang church. The speaker was preaching in a language that I didn't understand. The advantage of being in a worship service where you didn't understand the language was that you can let your mind wander. My mind was wandering, my eyes gazing at the clouds through the window behind the speaker, the mountains murmuring in a language that I could almost understand.

My mind wandered back to the beginning. I didn't want to live in Yangon during summer. I traveled all over Burma during the last two months. Among many trips I took, Nam San Yang trip was very exciting. Here is how it all began. It was back in Rangoon.

People were sleepy in front of the gate of Myanmar Railways. All of them were there to get in line for buying train tickets. It was about 9:00 PM and the night was still young. The ticket wouldn't go on sale until 6:00 AM. Yet people were overzealous. Brang Mai, a student of mine, and I went to a friend's house near the train station. We came back at about 11:00 PM to the station. We sat there in front of the gate, feeling sleepy.

They opened the gate at 1:00 AM. People rushed in, pushing each other, some even ignoring their sandals. It was a complete chaos. Almost nobody gave priority to women and children. It was 2:00 AM when we were settled, getting our place in line. We were pretty far back. Being sleepy, I wished traveling in Burma would be a bit more comfortable. A young woman was sitting not very far from us. Her baby was sleeping in her lap. Her eyes were closed, being tired. Her face looked weary. Yet she was there in line to get the tickets she wanted. Finally, we got our tickets at 6:15 AM.

We left Rangoon the following evening. It was a 15-hour train ride to Mandalay. Arriving in Mandalay, we had breakfast. Satisfied because we no longer felt hungry, we had to start working on getting train tickets to Myitkyina. We were able to get 2 tickets from the black market paying 3 times the cost. Still being short of one more ticket, we stood in line to buy the without-seat ticket (ticket you can ride the train, but you are not assigned any seats, so you might have to sit on the floor). It was sold out before our turn. Since we already had gotten two tickets, we decided that our friend would ride the train without any ticket. We took the Myitkyina train for 30 hours. It was about 700 miles from Mandalay to Myitkyina. We spent two nights in Myitkyina to visit some interesting places there. We left for Nam San Yang, a village 40 miles southeast of Myitkyina.

We spent about 10 days in Nan Sam Yang. We taught English to the kids from the village. One truth I have found is that there are kids who want education, but are not fortunate enough to go to cities where good schools are. It would be challenging for an educated person to go live in those places to teach them. I hope there will be more educated people from the region to train them effectively.

The kids sang 'Yehowa hpe kabu gara ai myit hte dawjau nga mu.' They are singing in Kachin that they will serve the Lord. I prayed that one day they will be educated and help develop the area.

Please keep in your prayers those kids from the area and those who are serving there for the development of the area.

KIO (Kachin Independent Organization) female police officer and male soldier in Laiza, Kachin State (Bordertown near China)




Shai Awng Ja playing in the stream




Hydropower in villages




The above picture is the generator run by waterpower to produce 1 KiloWatt electricity. They use hydropower in villages near Bamaw in Kachin State. It was very interesting and self-sufficient.

A Cowboy in Kachin State, Northern Burma




A local kid helping his parents, on the way back home from their farm.

Justice in remote villages

Nan Sam Yang bridge was being repaired. Every car wanting to cross the bridge
had to wait except this one van owned by a military officer.





Other people had to cross this way.





A privately-owned and semi-illegal gasoline station in Burma