A break?

These past few months have been tough ones,  physically, emotionally and whatever-elsely.  Any leave I have taken has been related to either medical or family matters and so I have been approaching this break with some anticipation, if not desperation!  The plan was a cunning one.  Given that Friday and Monday were both Public Holidays here, I decided to finish up on the Thursday evening and then take a few days as a buffer before the hankered after healing trip to Malaysia…..  In those six days between finishing work I would relax in Yangon, take time to prepare for my break and take care of a few tasks which I have not quite managed to work through.  You know the ones, the not-urgent-so-they-get-put-to-the-side tasks.  This included tasks which although not quite urgent are still important – setting up a scholarship in memory of my father for the Tall Ships Youth Trust, overdue and unanswered correspondence, medical reimbursement claims, a heap of boring-yet-important paperwork tasks.  It also included planning and dreaming time (the “focus” part of my three words for the year) and regrouping in terms of creative and personal priorities for the year.  It included catching up with friends and having lazy lunches and coffees in Yangon’s nicest spots. Great plans for a few days pre-holiday break.

So I was not expecting the assault which was waiting in the wings for me  As I tidied and wrapped up priorities and essentials around me on Thursday I was aware that I had the occasional sneezle.  Now my sneezles, I like to think are rather dainty, little soprano “aaa-teeeesh” sneezles.  The type that can break windows and crystal glasses.  The ones which were appearing on Thursday however, were deep Pavarotti-like “HHHAAAAAA-TRUUMPH” thunder claps, so unlike my own that I could have been convinced that I had been taken over by a dozen tenors with hay fever.  It did not happen too frequently though for me to give it much attention, and I handed over my work tasks, worries, tidied my papers into a single “welcome back in two weeks” bundle and spent a pleasant Thursday evening with a friend.  I still had the occasional sneezle, but nothing really of note and although feeling very tired, reached home later with no inkling of the impending ambush.

I had probably only been asleep around an hour when I realised that something was brewing.  My nose was becoming really stuffy and there was a familiar discomfort on breathing which heralded some kind of upper respiratory cough/cold ahead. By the time morning arrived I was in some sort of meltdown.  Some very nasty virus had clearly taken quite a hold. My body was already fighting the abscess, which had required a change in antibiotics, and I knew I was run down and tired.  The perfect welcome committee for what would normally be a tedious, run of the mill infection.  It was frightening just how quickly and how low this knocked me down. I completely lost four days, four whole days to feverish dreams, painful coughing, streaming eyes and nose and debilitating weakness.  Half of my face (or so it feels) has been taken over by an angry cold sore the size of a Pacific island.  I can’t even remember the last time I had one of these wretched cold sores.  I don’t believe I have been laid quite so low since the chemo days.  Indeed, the last time I lost so many days was during a bout of pneumonia when my white cell count lowered enough to let that across the threshold.  But even in those days, I was able to get myself dressed and out to the Doctor for twice daily intravenous antibiotic infusions.

I am not sure where these past four days disappeared to, but they did evaporate and finally today, I have felt well enough to raise my head, dress and even tiptoe gently out of the house.

One of the delights of living in Myanmar is that there are so many ways of pampering yourself which are affordable and easily accessible.  At the end of our lane there is a small spa or beauty parlour, I’m not sure how I would term it.  However, it classifies itself, it is a haven for tired and flagging souls.  I decided that my first venture back into the outside world would be for one of those luxurious hair washes which are so much part of life here.

It is not far to walk, but probably just the right kind of distance.  Near enough to cope with wobbly legs, but far enough to at least feel as if I am stretching those muscles just a little.  With the abscess and then this lurgey, it has been nearly two weeks since I have been able to swim or cycle so gentle exercise is sorely needed.

I turned up on the doorstep of the spa, and requested a tea tree oil hair wash as the scent is reminiscent of eucalyptus and so soothes those airways beautifully.  Quite why it also smells like a giant “after eight” mint I am not sure, but it does and I tend to imagine I am wallowing in one of these mega treats! teatreeoilforgood.comThe visit was rounded off with a tentative acknowledgement of my forthcoming trip – holiday toenails.  This week I seriously doubted whether I would actually be well enough to travel and whether it would be wise.  Feeling confident enough to have my toenails done is the most significant, yet seemingly trivial, signal that I finally feel well and confident enough.

holiday toes

And if I feel well enough, confident and have holiday toes?  Then I had better start packing sometime soon……..

Who would have thought?

Who would have thought? 

As I write this, it is exactly four years since we were making that journey from Safdarjung in Delhi to the domestic airport.  We were clutching our nomadic essentials from an unexpectedly long stay in Delhi, along with a bundle of paperwork which included those precious visas.  The reason for our longer stay.

We were bound initially for Calcutta on a domestic flight and would arrive late in the evening.  We would then fly onwards to Bangkok on a three hour flight  departing in the early hours of the morning of the 18th June.  We would have a ninety minute transfer in Bangkok airport before boarding the first flight of the day to Yangon, bleary eyed and with virtually no sleep.  We would arrive, those bleary eyes bug-like, in Yangon ready for the next chapter.

Who would have thought we would still be here four years later, in a very different and exciting Myanmar?

We knew that we would need to get used to certain changes, for example, that internet was difficult to access.  I had been blogging in India and Sri Lanka,  and recorded our farewell thoughts as we prepared to leave.

Who would have thought that I would not return to Delhi in at least four years?

Who would have known that life was about to take such an unexpected turn?

Who would have known that hidden away amongst our belongings and paperwork, I was concealing two tumours and conveying them safely to our new home?

Who would have known that I would find that writing my way through this would be such a critical lifeline?

Who would have known how many friends I would meet through this?

Of course we cannot know.  To paraphrase  Soren Kierkegaard- We might understand life more easily by looking back, but we have to live it looking forward, not knowing what is ahead.

So, four years later it is fascinating to look back and realise just how much the ground has shifted in so many ways.  When I read the original Feisty Blue Gecko, so many memories come back.  It is strange to read those words and feel a strange innocence, which we realise has been wrenched from us when we crossed that line in the sand.

How much has happened in these past four years.

Who would ever have thought?  And who would have known, indeed?

Moving on

Yangon’s landscape is rapidly changing.  The colours on the city’s trees are disappearing , washed away by the monsoon rains.  The rains have arrived, with a vengeance, pounding down frequently, waking me in the night.  Moody black clouds skit across the sky, dumping their weight of water on the country, turning roads into raging rivers within minutes.

The city is lush, vibrant and teeming with life.  We have two mynahs basking in the sun, on the grass between downpours.  Preening, puffing up their feathers, strutting off to find a new spot every few minutes, perfecting their song repertoire with chirruping vocal exercises. The nighttime racket of frogs, geckos and all manner of beasties is at times as loud as the rains themselves.

Our mynahs are just like this one

Our mynahs are just like this one

Monsoon has truly arrived.  And as the seasons move forward, so it is time for a new image as my background.


Resting raindrop

Resting raindrop

An image I never tire of is one like this, which stopped me in my tracks yesterday on the way home between showers. A monsoon gift, one perfect teardrop, resting peacefully on its leaf, unaware that it was already  shrinking and evaporating feeding the increasing humidity.

And that is the image I choose as we move on, forward with the seasons, surrounded by new life.



Re-entry. Accomplished? Kind of……….

Re-entry back into the spheres of life and work has been accomplished.  I guess. At least physically.


Re-entry into Asia, Myanmar and Yangon took place on Sunday.  I travelled on the overnight flight from Amsterdam to Bangkok and for once the flight was smooth with minimal turbulence. Towards the end of the flight, and as we were flying over Myanmar (ironically) the pilot advised us that we would be starting our descent into Bangkok shortly.  Almost as an aside he mentioned that there were thunderstorms in the vicinity of Suvarnibhumi Airport so there could be some turbulence. Now thunderstorms and flying as a combination freak me out a little, so I decided to instantly file the information in the large “denial” folder in my mind.

lightning and plane
That worked initially as we started the descent, and I even managed to stay detached when we had a few pretty bumpy encounters with soupy clouds.  Then – BANG! There was a huge ”THWOOOOMP” kind of noise at the window and the cabin lit up as we air-kissed a bolt of lightning.  Inside the cabin there a lot of squeals and exclamations (although I didn’t understand the words as they were mostly in Dutch, I clearly understood what they meant), and great gripping of the arm rests.  The stewardess did not seem as alarmed as we were, and told us that we were safer in the sky than on the ground.  To say that this seemed counter-intuitive is an understatement, as we all know that lightning seeks out the highest point.  Plane.  Sky.  High…………  (I have since consulted Prof Google about this and it seems correct, would you believe?) The following fifteen minutes as we approached the runway lasted at least three hours, but finally we landed safely to an audible and collective exhale of breath. Re-entry into Asia?  Accomplished.

lightning and planes theory

I had over three hours in the airport before my onward flight to Yangon, so collapsed into the secret comfy armchairs near the departure gates for a bit and concentrated on staying awake and not thinking about the stormy sky outside. Finally we departed, the skies had cleared and our short flight was uneventful and pleasant. In no time, I was through arrivals and heading homewards to a waiting cup of tea!  Sunday afternoon was heading into Sunday evening. Re-entry into Myanmar and Yangon?  Accomplished.

The time difference between Yangon and the UK is 5.5 hours at the moment, thanks to British Summer Time. Returning to Asia, I usually find more difficult to adjust to than the travel to Europe as you lose several hours and morning in my corner of the world is late night in the place I have just left.  Thanks to the overnight flight and the intensity of the overall visit, I was physically and emotionally exhausted, so managed to sleep fairly early on the Sunday evening.  Which was fortunate as most folks in the UK would just have gone to bed when it was time for me to get up for work on the Monday morning!  Which I did manage to do.  Although it did require a very deep breath to face my desk which had been abandoned so hurriedly when I left for Scotland a lifetime earlier. Re-entry into work?  Accomplished.  Pretty much.

Overnight on Sunday and Monday, my sleep was broken however, by a sound which I did not recognise.  It was certainly some kind of animal, emitting a noise a bit like a throaty bray of a donkey crossed with a deep quack of a duck.  It was so strange and I was so disoriented that I disturbed hubby to ask what it was!  He was naturally not so amused to be quizzed on wildlife in the small hours but was able to tell me that it was a kind of bullfrog.  This is not the usual “happy party” frog noises I hear during monsoon, and I learned the following day that this is the noise which the Big Frogs make to call for the rains because they have had enough of the oppressive heat and want their monsoon parties to begin.


This seemed to work.  I was not long home on Tuesday evening and had realised that the frogs were silent.  However, in the distance I could hear thunder rattling around and before long it was clear it was heading towards us.  I could feel the air cool and thicken and a wind picked up, agitating the trees as the thunder became louder and the flashes of lightning more persistent.  The rain started abruptly, pounding through the trees and beating against the windows as the storm passed overhead, thunder and lightning simultaneously crashing around.  And then, with no surprise at all, the lights all went out.  The power was gone and I was in the midst of a quadrophonic water symphony, orchestrated by a group of actors including the rain, wind, thunder and of course the lightning conductor.  (ouch!)

Now sometimes power comes back quickly, and other times it doesn’t.  It is just a case of get hold of the torches, blackout bits and pieces and wait and see.  After about an hour the lights flickered back on.  You could hear the collective sigh of relief and blowing out of candles across the neighbourhood, followed by another collective “oh no” as they flickered off again less than a minute later.  Usually that is a good sign.  It means that the power is almost fixed and should come on again soon. All the while, the mugginess and humidity seemed to intensify and the lights stayed off.  And, all the while, the power stayed stubbornly off.  In fact it stayed off all night.  Which meant very little sleep.  Hardly great when combined with jetlag.  Especially unhelpful for productivity or energy throughout a demanding working day.  The power was still off when I headed out to work and was still off late in the afternoon when I phoned home.

Wednesday evening saw writing group, so I was later home than usual that evening. And to be honest, the thought of another night in that discomfort was not pulling me home.  When I did arrive home the lights were on and I could hear music playing!  What a great welcome!  Short-lived unfortunately. Hubby gently broke the news to me that the lock mechanism in the bedroom door had broken and the bedroom (and small attached bathroom were inaccessible)!  My first thought was that my swimming stuff was in there and the morning swim now sabotaged.  Next thought was for my toothbrush!  Then for everything I needed for the next morning to be able to turn up at work.  Isn’t it just typical that the day you can’t access your everything, is the day you have an Important Meeting and need to be looking the part! There was no way that door could be opened though, at that time in the evening and the only choice was to sleep in the spare room, wearing random pieces of laundry and breaking into the spare toothbrush supply from our last visit to Bangkok.  Another sticky and uncomfortable night, though slightly more sleep than the eve. The lack of morning swim though, really did make an impact – it is always amazing just how much more energy it gives getting up an hour and a half earlier for the swim and cycle.

Happily the locksmith arrived early and had removed the whole mechanism and opened the door within minutes.  With a whoop of happiness, I was able to access my appropriate attire for the day and make a start not too much later than usual.  Re-entry into sleep patterns and acclimatisation?  In progress.

So now, thank goodness it is the weekend and the chance to regroup a little.  Saturday morning saw me draw up a very quick five sticky plan to guide the weekend, the first one in a while as this has not been relevant the past few weeks.


So re-entry has at least physically been accomplished, though it is remarkable how different the landscape looks following our bereavement.  I guess it just takes time for our senses and emotions to readjust.

Up to speed

Some housekeeping is overdue!

I have been remiss in caring for the bloglet, and with updating on news from my end.  The last thing I remember, I was packing bags on January 2 and heading for Bangkok for the additional and scary review with Dr W2.  Now it is January 13 and I am not sure what has been happening in between times.

That is not entirely true, actually.  Life has been happening.

As soon as I arrived in Bangkok, I swung immediately into the “preparing for the tests” mindset with the gritted teeth and clenched knuckles that accompanies and characterises that tense time.  I moved through the checks like an automaton and was spat out the other side in one day.  Exhausted, numb and emotionally drained.    The main things to check were the clottability factor due to the embolism and of course, the dreaded tumour markers. In a nutshell, I have been released back into the wide world again and will be reviewed again in another three months.  The cloattability is pretty stable which is fine, although I do have that checked regularly in Yangon too so was not hugely concerned about that.  It was the tumour marker which was stressing me.  The important thing about the markers is the trend rather than the individual result, so it is important to see this over a period of time and a number of tests.  I knew that a further increase would be the most worrying scenario and was very glad that although the markers are still above the reference range, they have decreased slightly.  So now we just have to see how a trend plays out over the coming months, but I do have some reassurance and can breathe out for now.

That gave me a day in Bangkok to do around a week’s worth of chores and tasks and before I knew it I was back at Bangkok airport waiting to board the return flight to Yangon, along with a number of friends and colleagues also returning after the seasonal break.  I arrived home without incident, unpacked, ate, went to bed all set for the first day back after my break.  And indeed, before very long the alarm woke me, I forced myself to get up in the pitch dark, put on my swimming stuff, and some warmer clothing and shake the dust off my bike in a return to my morning routine before work.

The days have thus been full, with the early start in the cool (and now even cold) Yangon mornings and intense activity at work so my first weekend has been very welcome although it has brought quite a backlog with it.  Hence a game of catch up and a need for bloggish housekeeping.

While I was in Bangkok, I took advantage of the superfast internet and uploaded a few photos.  I decided to change the background picture here, and decided eventually on this image.

Angkor Birthday

This is a photograph from my visit to Angkor (Siem Reap) in Cambodia last year, a wonderful adventure and a truly confidence building exercise.  I loved the ruined temples, and especially the way nature and the temples have evolved with tree roots holding the structures together in some places and dividing them in others.  I was continually struck and by the resultant impression of man-made and natural elements in complete fusion.  As well as being a photograph I like, it has particular happy associations and that is how I would like to set the tone for the on my background.  There are many more photographs on the sister (photography) blog.

As we move into 2013, I remain enthused by my three word mantra (focus, treasure and design) and am embracing the coming year.  I am taking the time to focus in on what I want to achieve and draw up clear goals for my year.  And in a beautiful and unexpected gift I received from a friend and colleague, I have the perfect reminder.  A pair of stunning Feisty Blue Gecko earrings, something to keep me focused, to treasure and of an intricate and precious design.


So with a galloping account of hospital visits, early mornings, plans and goals, Cambodian temples and opal earrings, I trust that I am now getting back up to speed.

Dear President Obama

Dear President Obama

I feel compelled to write you a short note following your visit to Yangon.  I am not in the slightest a political animal, so please excuse me for keeping well away from that kind of talk.  Nope, this is a personal message because I am very much aware that your visit was very short and you did not have a chance to see the wonderful things I see every day living and working here.

Just in case you can’t quite place me (I know you are pretty busy and have covered a lot of ground in the past few weeks) I was one of five rather animated folks waving and jumping up and down on an empty part of the pavement shortly after you left Shwe Dagon.  I guess you were rather amused as we did not expect you to wave at us.  You will remember me – I was by far the oldest in the group but that didn’t show in my demeanour.  (I wrote all about it that day – here’s the link in case you missed it 🙂 )

Now with the increasing traffic congestion, and busy Yangon streets and roads it must have been pretty cool to be able to zoom through the streets with no delays.

Obama! 030

No waiting at traffic lights and no sitting behind lines of stationary cars and vans.  With only a few hours in town, and a tight schedule it would be a bit stressful to be worried about missing the return flight.  Not that there was any real risk of Air Force One leaving without its main passengers 😉  But still.

However, as I go about my regular daily routines, I can’t help but feel just a little bit sad that there are many wonderful sights which I see daily, which you would not have been able to see.  So I have collected a few images which I see regularly on the lively Yangon roads, and which I cherish, to share with you.

For example –

  • being able to buy jasmine at the traffic lights, (where you can also buy copies in pink, white, blue and yellow of the Foreign Investment Law in English and Myanmar languages)

jasmine street seller

  • the vans and line buses crammed full of lyongyi-wearing, tiffin box holding passengers hanging off the back

ordinary 23

  • the cute wooden buses


  • bicycles with several passengers


  • the “saidqua” trishaws with their peddlars and passengers


How many can fit on a trishaw?

  • all types of street sellers and merchandise on sale

ordinary 2

  • barefoot monks gathering alms

work etc 012

Yangon 2012 021


Yangon 2012 016

This is just the tiniest of glimpses into the day to day sights here, and the kind of sights you did not have a chance to see.  I have heaps more, for instance here, if ever you are bored of an evening and feel like a virtual wander through our streets.  Of course you have to wade through a heap of the breast cancery stuff which was (and still is) the main major raison d’etre of this blog, but I have to confess that I would find that more interesting than political talk and fiscal whatsits.  But then I  guess that that is why I am glad that you are you and I am me 🙂

I do hope that you have enjoyed this brief view of our wonderful city, and hope that I am more composed if I do see you again.

Very warm regards from this feisty gecko


A bit of a break

It has been a bit silent on the blog front for a few days.  For good reasons.  I am still all of a tremble from my Obama encounter, but even more of a boost has been a long weekend out of town……

I will let a handful of images tell the story for now, the headlines being idyllic seas, white sandy beaches, fishing boats, fruit sellers, sunsets and sunrises and probably the best seafood in the world.






Lucky stars.  Counting, counting, counting………….

A Day to Remember – Shwe Dagon and presidential synchronicity!

I had no idea this morning that today was going to be a Day To Remember.  I had no idea when I posted my update and change of image about Shwe Dagon and the days of the week that this would be in the international media only a day or so later.  Of course I knew, however, that President Obama was visiting the country today, and in the back of my mind I was vaguely aware that he might visit Shwe Dagon during his visit.  But I had absolutely no expectation that today would be such a day to remember, and chime so closely with the post I wrote less than 48 hours ago. This has been a highly significant day for Myanmar, and this post is but my own personal reflection of such a memorable day.

There was a palpable air of expectation, pride and excitement in the city this morning and I could hear “Obama” in conversations all around me.  It was very difficult to know what his itinerary or route would be, for security reasons, so we were all trying to gather snippets from folks we knew in various places.  We knew he would be in country for around six hours and we knew his key meetings and engagements. My close colleague had in fact phoned me on Saturday to apologise that he would not be at work today.  When he explained to me that he had been invited to the speech at the university I could not work out  whether I was insanely envious or massively delighted for him.  I  decided that I could quite legitimately be both!

We knew that President Obama would arrive mid morning and sure enough, the internet told us that he had arrived, and that Pyay Road was closed.  At the traffic light junction outside our window, the traffic was confused and congested.  We assumed Obama would be passing along Pyay Road, which runs parallel to our road, at the other side of the park.  No expectations to see anything at all.

So I was mildly surprised to see one side of our road clear, and along with a friend decided to investigate.  We were not alone!  Curiosity and speculation were rife and expectation and hope high.  Before long, the road was closed off in both directions and the junction was becoming busier.  Even the bird seller had abandoned his birds and was waiting expectantly!

We soon heard that Obama was in his meeting with our Myanmar President, so we knew they had passed along Pyay Road.  Then we heard a whisper that he would visit Shwe Dagon.  The very same Shwe Dagon that I wrote about this weekend.  There were counter rumours that removing shoes could be a problem so perhaps they would not visit the temple.  Then we saw  through the trees in the distance at the top of the road, the line of the motorcade with its flashing lights, cars passing one after the other. Disappointment at being so near yet so far slammed into me.

So I am not quite sure why my friend and I decided to walk further up the road.  We still had no expectations, but the road was still closed, so perhaps, perhaps the motorcade might pass by us still.  Opinions were varied but tended more to assume that he would not pass down our road.

We waited though.  As long as the road remained closed there was still some hope.  Gradually, I could feel an increase in expectation and would jump every time a police car or motorbike sped down the road.

Then, in the distance I heard a siren, and engines.  And within moments the long motorcade was heading around the corner, slowing as it curved around the road and right past us.  There were only five of us at that bit of the roadside, squealing with excitement as the first stretch limo with Hillary Clinton passed.  It was followed by an SUV and then the Presidential limo.  All five of us were cheering and waving frantically.  What is about these occasions that turns us into teenage squealsters?

As the car passed, we could not believe our eyes as we saw President Obama turn his face to the window and raise his hand to wave back to us! This was massively beyond any expectations any of us had harboured and we erupted in a hysterical outburst as the motorcade continued past us, some very stern and serious faces at the following car windows.

So I knew that President Obama had visited Shwe Dagon.  It was not wild speculation to assume that he would have given offerings at the shrine of his born day. I was curious about whether his entourage would all visit barefoot.

And this is what the reports told us later:

Obama made a surprise stop at the Shwedagon pagoda, where he, the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and their entire entourage, including secret service agents, went barefoot up the giant stone staircase of one of the most revered sites in Myanmar.

Obama took part in a ritual often carried out at the pagoda—saying a blessing at a section of the pagoda platform that recognizes the day of his birth, Friday. Obama poured 11 cups of water into a basin, turning to reporters to explain that he was dousing “the flames” of anger, hatred and other vices.

So now you know.  President Obama is Friday born.  And this Saturday born dragon-gecko was fortunate enough to have a truly memorable day and a tenuous presidential endorsement of my very recent words on the blog!

And what a monumental day, for this amazing country that I am so privileged to live and work in.

Diversity and light

Today is 31 October.    According to my friend Wikipedia, it is the 304th day of the year (305th this year because it is a leap year) in the Gregorian calendar, and there are 61 days remaining until the end of the 2012.  It is also Halloween in many places, with all that entails.

Apparently, it is also National coat of Arms day in Ecuador (oh I just love Wikipedia for teaching me my new things for many days).

And of course, it is the final day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  There is lots of discussion about that around me.

The day has many significances to us, in our different locations and cultures, but also in our own sense of where we are at a particular time.  Over here in Myanmar, we have been marking Thadingyut, which brings the three months of “Buddhist Lent” to a close.  Yesterday evening I was welcomed home in the evening by rows of tiny candles around the gate, down the drive and around the house.

Houses nearby were bathed in light from candles and fairly lights.  Fireworks louder than thunder crashed across the sky.  The full moon sat heavily behind a mist of light cloud.  There was a real air of festivity and spirituality around.  The period of Buddhist Lent begins with the Waso full moon which usually falls in July and continues through the monsoon.  This is a time when people are busy tilling their land and planting the paddyfields, and monks will not travel but stay at their monasteries.  During this time, it is believed generally to be inauspicious to marry, to move house or to enter generally into a new venture.

Hence the feeling of thanksgiving and celebration in the air over Thadingyut.

This reminds me that I have a great deal to be thankful for.  I am living and working in an amazing place at an amazing time, and able to experience such rich diversity.  And even more thankful to be here after the last round of checks and scares.

Happy Thadingyut!

An ordinary sight on the way to work

A little more of the everyday ordinary in Yangon.

This is a regular sight – and I took this photo on my way to work last week when we were snapping ordinary moments.


This is an ordinary bicycle and it is entirely usual to have at least three people on it.  The mum balances gracefully on the bike while holding an umbrella to protect her baby from the sun as well as holding on carefully to her baby.  The man is wearing the traditional Myanmar longyi with a less traditional (and until recently a rare sight) mobile phone sticking out of the waist.  The front basket also regularly holds an infant.

I have a secret plan to get myself a runaround bike this weekend, to use as the rains start to abate.  But I will not be taking any passengers, for their own safety!  Nor will I be riding one-handed while I hold my umbrella aloft!