Pyinnyar Pankhin English Training Centre, Myanaung, Myanmar.
The flight from Bangkok to Yangon lasted about ninety minutes, and with the Venerable Neminda (the Buddhist monk who founded the school) alongside, I felt relaxed. Greeted at the airport by some members of the school committee, we climbed aboard our transport and began the journey to Myanaung, where the Pyinnyar Pankhin English school is situated. I was excited, yet a little apprehensive. I had answered an advert for a volunteer English teacher, and although I had been a volunteer many times before, it was my first time in Myanmar (previously Burma). It’s a long journey from Yangon to Myanaung, around seven hours on a good day. The road varies, from unsafe to dangerous, but that description also depends on the driver of the vehicle. Fortunately, the driver was excellent.
On arrival in Myanaung, we went straight to Neminda’s temple, where there was a further introduction to some members of the community. The guest house is only a few minutes walk from here, and it was now I met Mr Lwin Oo for the first time.
Mr Oo owns the Han Thar Oo guest house (and much more besides) which turned out to be my home for the next 10 weeks. The room is clean, bright, modern and contains an en-suite bathroom and air conditioning. Surprised with the quality of my temporary home, in the weeks that followed I was to find many surprises and events that challenged my perceptions.