Friday, December 25, 2009

Kyaw Hein at the Baptist Youth Convention in Insein, Rangoon

Kyaw Hein, a famous actor in Burma, gave a talk at the Burmese Baptist Youth Convention a few years ago. There are about 10 parts on YouTube. Here are two. You can watch the rest on YouTube if you find it interesting. This is only in Burmese.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Burmese choir by the Myanmar Institute of Theology

Here is the Myanmar Institute of Theology choir singing at a chapel service. MIT is in Insein, Rangoon (Yangon). I was teaching there a few years ago after I graduated from Purdue University in the US.


Friday, December 04, 2009


Google's public DNS server is What a coincidence! It just reminds me of 8888 uprising in Burma. Burma's history turned another page in 1988, bringing down Burma Socialist Programme Party. And we are now stuck with the current military regime since then.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I bought a used pink netbook from a friend of a friend. It was only $120. Yes, being a student kind of sucks with no money :) I can't afford this sleek MacBook Air. Acer Aspire One would do fine for me, I think :)

It would be very convenient for me on the road from now on. I would be able to call most countries by Skype, and surf facebook to waste time :)

I installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it. I like it better than Windows XP. It felt kind of slow with Windows XP. Now it's perfect with Ubuntu. The only disadvantage is I don't have Microsoft Office application. Instead, I have a free alternative, OpenOffice. It should be OK. I am going to use this only for fun. Not for serious work. If I want to work, I will remotely log into my desktop from the netbook.

I am so happy I got this cheap, honestly.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Burmese Queen by Spoken

This is a nice rap song by Spoken about his Burmese Queen. It's both in English and Burmese. Burmese part was sung by a girl. I think Spoken is an (amateur?) rapper from England.

Also nice paintings by U Lun Gywe and Myoe Win Aung! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Complaints Choir of Singapore

This is hilarious! You have to have been in Singapore to get some of the jokes in the last five minutes. But overall, it's very funny. Watch at least the first 5 minutes. :)

Some of my favorites: 
"We don't recycle any plastic bags, but we purify our pee."
"What's not expressly permitted is prohibited."
"To the Aunty staying upstairs: your laundry is dripping on my bed sheets."
"Please don't squat on the toilet seats and don't clip your nails on MRT."
"People put on fake accents to sound posh."
"Will I ever live till eighty five to collect my CPF?"

And if you are interested in more, check out this site:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Marg Helgenberger in Bloomginton

I met Marg Helgenberger (Catherine Willows in CSI: Las Vegas) at Scholars Inn in Bloomington last Thursday. She was just sitting there and drinking. It was so cool. We were there to celebrate the 24th birthday of one of our friends.

One of the girls in our group did go and say hi to her. But the rest of us, who were too faint-hearted, just went to the restroom and had a peek at her on the way. :)

We all had fun that night. Thanks, Eric, Melissa, Jen, Jess, Jessica and Sanja for a wonderful night out.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Automatic Bitext Alignment for Southeast Asian Languages

Here is my Master's thesis on the Automatic Bitext Alignment for Southeast Asian Languages. Bitext corpus is a collection of text in two languages; in this case, English and Thai. I automatically aligned English sentences with their Thai translations. The methodology I proposed here could be used for any Southeast Asian languages, for example, Burmese. I have to post my thesis here because the Asian Institute of Technology does not give people online access to its thesis repository.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

At an up-scale shopping mall in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma

This is a picture taken at an up-scale shopping mall in Burma near Hlaing Thar Yar. I found this amusing. I had to ask Ma Ardeth, my friend, to take a picture so I can post it here on my blog. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Eyes of the Storm

"Eyes of the Storm" is the best documentary on Burma that I have seen in recent years. You must watch this. It can or will make you cry.

Eyes of the Storm tells the struggles of several orphaned children left to fend for themselves and rebuild their shattered lives in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.  Among others we meet 10-year-old Ye Pyint who is now surrogate father to his younger brother and sister; they live in a makeshift hut in what remains of their village. We follow Min, the 16-year-old who is the sole survivor from his family and is now trying to live as a monk in a Buddhist monastery miles away from his devastated home.

Through the eyes of the Burmese filmmaking team who shot undercover for over 10 months in defiance of the ruling junta's media blackout, WIDE ANGLE provides a rare window into one of the world's most secretive countries. The hour-long documentary also features American and British journalists who have reported from Burma and speak of its history and the hopes and fears for its future.

Watch on PBS.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


collegian, originally uploaded by lwinmoe.

More of the books I have read -- ကောလိပ်ကျောင်းသား (collegian) by ဇဝန.

Friday, July 24, 2009

မြန်မာဝတ္ထုတို (Burmese Short Stories)

I am still reading this one. Not quite finished yet.

လွမ်းမောခဲ့ရသောတက္ကသိုလ်နွေညများ (The Class)

Another book that I have finished is "လွမ်းမောခဲ့ရသောတက္ကသိုလ်နွေညများ" by Mya Than Tint (မြသန်းတင့်). It is a translation of The Class by Erich Segal.

ဒဂုန်ရွှေမျှား (Dagon Shwe Myar), ငယ်ကချစ်အနှစ်တစ်ရာ နှင့် လက်ရွေးစင်ဝတ္ထတိုများ

This is one of the Burmese books I have finished reading recently. It's a collection of some short stories by ဒဂုန်ရွှေမျှား (Dagon Shwe Myar).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dinner by the rivers of Babylon

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?

Psalm 137
Last night, Swe Di Nar and I visited our friends, Ko Aung Lwin and Ah Khu. We gave them a wedding present and had dinner with them. The dinner was wonderful (just look at the following pictures). We all had a good time and a nice chat after the dinner, too.

We may all be away from our family and loved ones in Burma. But we share our moments together here among our difficulties and struggles. Ah Khu, for example, has been extorted by Thai police at least twice; I was with her once while the police extorted her Bahts 500 for not having an identification card with her. It's a tremendous will power to love, laugh and enjoy among all these difficulties and struggles in a foreign land. I pray and hope that one day, they will all be together with their families and loved ones in our motherland. In the end, friends and family are all that matter.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Who really killed Aung San?

It's been a while since I updated my blog. I was extremely busy with the computer upgrades at my office, a trip back to Burma and a visit to Singapore. I will write more about the trips later. On a side note, I accidentally 'washed' my handset in the washing machine, forgetting to take out the pocket of my pants. Have I become like an absent-minded professor? :) The good news is that I got a new Nokia handset.

Now, let me share this BBC investigative report of "Who Really Killed Aung San?"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

For all mothers

"အေးမြစမ်းရေ" by Brayton Youth:

A lesson for Burmese from an Iranian woman in her fight to be free

Roger Cohen at the New York Times:

"Can't the United Nations help us?" one woman asked me. I said I doubted that very much. "So," she said, "we are on our own."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Student Visa

Yesterday, I went in for the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy here in Bangkok for my student visa application. Fortunately--I should say by the grace of God since I am a Christian--my visa application was approved. The embassy mailed my passport back today.

I don't want to get into details about the interview. Please don't ask me why. 

Anyways, I will leave for the U.S. in the beginning of August. I really should be tying up all my loose ends here before then. I am currently working on the Shorto Mon dictionary to be able to put online before I leave. I will try to finish it as soon as possible.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

African National Congress

What I learned today about the African National Congress:

Members of the African National Congress founded the organization as the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) on 8 January 1912. Eight decades later, they achieved their goal of a democratic South Africa.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The two faces of Rangoon

Celeste Chenard's article in Mizzima:

There are still shocking levels of poverty in some of the city's poorer districts, public transport is overcrowded, and for most of the population electricity remains intermittent at best. Infrastructure is in particularly poor shape, with badly decaying buildings, potholed roads and destroyed pavement - as if run over by a bulldozer - common sight.

An elderly, barefoot man with a hollowed chest makes his nightly rounds through the city - literally covering dozens upon dozens of blocks - hawking shrimp crackers he carries in a large plastic tub to those frequenting the open-air teashops. Children, grime from the streets caked to their skin and thankful for even a 10 kyat note, tug at the shirts of people watching movies and videos on television sets placed out on the sidewalks.

At the 50th Street Bar and Grill a group of young Burmese elite on a recent night mixed easily with the local expatriate population, talking of trips abroad and planning the weekend's reverie - in this case a concert by a band from the United States on Friday and poolside barbeque the following day. Priced in dollars, some of the Burmese in attendance that evening spent the equivalent of two percent the estimated average per capita income of their fellow countrymen and women.

I think the author perfectly described recent Rangoon.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tiananmen Square 20 years on

Bullets Over Beijing by Nicholas D. Kristof.
One stocky rickshaw driver had tears streaming down his cheeks as he drove past me to display a badly wounded student so that I could photograph or recount the incident. That driver perhaps couldn't have defined democracy, but he had risked his life to try to advance it.

Calvin Liu, at 11:03am June 4, commenting on the above article in Facebook
i agree with Sayem Ahmed and Rachel Kim. I'm an American born Chinese, with both parents from China. On the American political spectrum we run liberal, which often implies complaining against the "oppressive" regime of China. But I think that the Chinese are committed to nationalistic progress, and are willing to trade freedoms (as Americans see it) for economic development. You mentioned this, saying that life is better now in China. Someone else, I think, characterized this as a decline in morality. It's a strange progression, but Chinese has risen to first-world economic prosperity but remains at best a second-world country, socially/politically. I think time will lead them to democracy - although who is to say that our own democracy provides a good example for them? Tiananmen square is a tragedy, but it's a tragedy the likes of which would not be repeated now - so at least some progress has been made.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Zee Avi, a Malaysian YouTube Musician

Keep note, Myanmar Teleport and MPT. Blocking, and would be similar to making this kind of success story impossible. 

Zee Avi, who, the day before her 22nd birthday, posted a melancholy holiday song on YouTube that she intended to be her last video posting in December 2007.

By the time she checked her email she had almost 3,000 messages, including a slew of label offers. One email came from from Ian Monotone, who had been shown the YouTube clip by Raconteurs' drummer Patrick Keeler, prompting a signing to his label. Avi is now managed by the same team who works with the White Stripes, M.I.A., The Shins and Vampire Weekend, among others. Earlier this year she was flown from her hometown in Malaysia to a recording studio in Los Angeles. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Busy, busy

I successfully defended my thesis last Wednesday at the Asian Institute of Technology. My thesis is about bitext alignment for Southeast Asian languages. A bitext corpus is a collection of text in one language with its equivalent translation in another. Bitext corpora are useful for assisting human and machine translations, cross-language information retrieval and language acquisition. I tried to align sentences from several Thai-English bitext corpora. The methodology that I propose can be used to align English with other Southeast Asian languages such as Burmese, Khmer and Lao.

I have been busy with all the stupid requirements for graduating students.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

An American swam across Inya Lake to Aung San Suu Kyi's house

From NYT:
An American man has been arrested for swimming across a lake to sneak into the home of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Monday, April 20, 2009

America's newest CTO, Aneesh Chopra

His keynote speech at the 5th Annual State of the Net Conference 2009 is great. The guy is visionary and thoughtful. He emphasizes the open access of data and collaboration among several entities of government.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Pirate Bay's link to Thailand

The Pirate Bay is an online bittorrent tracker (bittorrent is a file sharing protocol that allows users to share big files online). Many people use it to search for and download torrent trackers for popular movies or TV shows. Its website claims that it is the largest torrent tracker in the world.

In Sweden yesterday, four people with links to the Pirate Bay were found guilty of "assisting in making copyright content available."

It's interesting that one of them has links to Thailand:
Fredrik Neij (born April 27, 1978) alias 'TiAMO':
Verdict: Guilty - 1 year in prison, damages to pay: $905,000
Similar to the other defendants, Fredrik Neij was not present to hear the verdict. He currently lives in Thailand from where he manages The Pirate Bay's servers.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bangkok State of Emergency

I went to Emporium shopping mall to have lunch last Tuesday. Because of the state of emergency and Songkran water festival, there were no street vendors on Soi Rangnam, where I live.

There were some soldiers and a military jeep on Soi Rangnam. Here is a picture I took on my way back from lunch.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Near Victory Monument

Near Victory Monument, originally uploaded by lwinmoe.

I took many pictures at the Victory Monument (in Bangkok) where there was a clash between the army and the red protesters today.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Burmse food (contd.)

Burmse food, originally uploaded by lwinmoe.

How suitcases are filled in by our Burmese friends when they travel from Burma to the U.S--from beans to tamarind.

Burmese food

Burmese food, originally uploaded by lwinmoe.

How suitcases are filled in by our Burmese friends when they travel from Burma to the U.S--from beans to tamarind.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Rally near my apartment

rally, originally uploaded by rdockum.

There was a rally by the Red Shirts at King Power duty free shop near my apartment in Bangkok. The photo above was taken by rdockum, my colleague, with my Canon PowerShot A640 camera. More photos are here on flickr.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A kid playing xylophone at Chatuchak market

Chatuchak market is a weekend market in Bangkok, famous for tourists and locals interested in all things strange (from antiques to zippers.)

The kid in the picture plays xylophone there every week for his pocket money and school fees.

Monday, March 30, 2009

More exotic dresses from Burma

Exotic dresses from Burma, originally uploaded by lwinmoe.

Exotic dresses from Burma

Exotic dresses from Burma, originally uploaded by lwinmoe.

The shop owner from Chatuchak market

She sells all sorts of exotic ethnic dresses from Burma at Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok.

Fai Thor Fan
Phijittra Photha
Jatujak Weekend market
Section 25, Room 229

80-year old Karen dress

80-year old Karen dress, originally uploaded by lwinmoe.

I went to Chatuchak weekend market a while ago. I found a shop where they sell items from Burma.

There was an 80-year old Karen dress (the red one in the picture). The price was 5,000 Bahts (1 U.S. dollar = 35 Bahts)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Linguistics studies

I have been accepted by the Indiana University in Bloomington at their linguistics department. I will be focusing on computational linguistics.

Hopefully, I will get a visa to the U.S. and will be able to go there in August.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eating out in Yangon

golden-happy-hot-pot-receipt, originally uploaded by lwinmoe.

The picture is the receipt for six of us from ရွှေကောင်း (Shwe Kaung) hot pot restaurant. You can see a glimpse of what it is like to eat out at a high-end restaurant in Yangon. Note that the exchange rate is about 1,000 Kyats to a dollar.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Quotes of the day

From "Thai Bloggers Face Jail Without Bail for Discussing Monarchy":
"In the past, people fled to the jungle to share their political beliefs," Suwicha said, referring to a Communist insurgency in the 1970s that was suppressed by the [Thai] government. "Now we have Web sites. If they want to stop it, they must stop the technology itself."

စမူဆာနဲ့ကြံရည် (samoosa and sugar cane juice)

Samoosa and sugar cane juice in Rangoon.

ဗူးသီးကြော် (gourd fritter)

Gourd fritters in Rangoon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mon monk

Mon monk, originally uploaded by lwinmoe.

We were looking at the dictionary of Modern Spoken Mon by Harry Shorto.

New hosting platform

I just upgraded my hosting platform to Movable Type software. I apologize if you receive some old posts in your feed reader because of the upgrade.

I think this new platform will make my life a lot easier to manage posts. I will be able to focus more on content than fixing technical issues.

I am still missing some old posts from 1998 to 2003. And I also lost tagging information in the conversion process. The categories are wrong and some photo links are broken, too.

I will fix those later. Please bear with me for the moment. :)

By the way, I no longer have RSS feed. The atom feed is here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Burma trip

The flight attendant announced that the plane would land at the Yangon International Airport in a few minutes. I gathered all my documents (passport, arrival card, etc.), got my backpacks and got ready. I was excited. I hadn't been home for about three years.

The flight attendant then announced that the time difference between Bangkok and Yangon was 30 minutes. She gently reminded us to change our watches to local time which was 30 minutes behind Bangkok. One western expat living in Bangkok joked that it was more like 30 years difference instead of 30 minutes.

Yangon indeed was almost like 30 years behind Bangkok. Crumbling taxis, polluted air, pot-holed road, no electricity and noisy generator's sounds downtown all reminded us of the current situation in Burma.

Yangon International Airport was renovated and since had become modern. I heard that the electricity went out occasionally, though. We didn't need airport shuttles like in the old days. We could walk directly through the boarding tube into the airport. It was great.

After coming down with the elevator (which actually worked by the way), I went past the immigration. While waiting in the immigration line, I overheard immigration officers cursing to each other. I ignored them and went on to the counter. An immigration officer stamped my passport with an entry stamp.

Passing immigration counters, picking up luggage was easy enough since ours was the only flight and there were not many passengers on board.

Coming out of the airport, my friend, Saw Aye Min, and I had to find a taxi. We got one with Kyats 4,000 to go to Insein, which was not too far from the airport. It was about 20 minute-drive.

There were boys trying to offer their services to carry our luggage to the taxi. They were so pervasive. It was a turn-off for many foreigners. But it was a normal scene for us. An American friend of mine once said, "Don't be put off by this. After passing this experience, Burma is such a wonderful place full of wonderful people."

I said above that Yangon was like 30 years behind Bangkok. Yet, I had to admit that Burma was probably ahead of Thailand in some aspects. One thing I had to acknowledge was there were many cheap tuitions in Burma for everything from English speaking to LCCI exams (for those of you who are not familiar with LCCI, it stands for London Chamber of Commerce and Industry certificates). These standardized exams were popular with Burmese kids because they could help them find jobs outside of Burma. They could become exam guides if they scored very high. A few years ago, one of the Burmese kids got the highest score in the world.

The following morning, I went to the highway bus terminal to buy a ticket to go back to Mudon. In Bangkok, I would go to the bus terminal a few hours in advance on the night I would travel and the ticket would still be available.  Here I was not sure of that. So I had to go in the morning to book my ticket to leave the following day.

yangon bus
Bus in Rangoon (Image by woowoowoo via Flickr)
Mudon, by the way, was a small town in Southern Burma near Mawlamyine (Moulmein). I grew up there and went to school there. My family still lived there.
Limestone landscape, Mon State, Burma.
Mon State (Image via Wikipedia)

Mudon trip was nice. I was able to see beautiful sceneries along the way since I took day-bus instead of the night one. Burma's villages were still beautiful.

Highways were definitely better than before. But it was nothing compared to highway systems even in our neighboring countries such as Thailand or Malaysia. We definitely needed to upgrade our infrastructure.

That reminded me to talk about electricity. There was electricity only one day during the whole week I was there and it was from midnight till five in the morning. People got up to pump water and recharge their batteries.

Batteries and inverters (to convert direct current from batteries to alternating current) were ubiquitous. And so were generators. If alternative energies were to be tested, Burma would be a great field for the experiments. One of the doctors in my hometown used solar panels for her house's energy needs.

In general, the trip was fun because I got to meet my family. I went back to Bangkok after spending a week in Burma.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Hosting problems

I was having some hosting problems the last few weeks. Now it has all been
worked out. I will post some entries later. See you soon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama inauguration

"O Burma" inauguration is today! :)

Here is Martin Luther King's prediction about the first African-American president.