Sunday, 05 May 2013
If anyone had been reading the news these days on Myanmar, you will be reading all about the clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in some towns, leaving a trail of destruction. What's sad is that this made the world think that Myanmar Buddhists are "neo-Nazi Buddhists", or that Myanmar's Buddhists are in a crusade against the Myanmar Muslims. While there is no denying that anti-Islamic sentiments are strong with some Myanmar people, as apparent from the continuing clashes between them, not all Buddhists are so-called Neo-Nazis, going on a crusade to eradicate Islam from Myanmar.
What is 969? What does it stand for - you might be asking. Even though I had been living right here in Myanmar, I didn't even know about this recent development until a few days before the clashes in Meikhtila happened. I have most ignored such anti-Islam pages on Facebook, and have actually hidden some of those sites, so probably that's why. (Yeah, Facebook has become a source of news for me these days!)
The numbers "969" is supposed to represent the Three Jewels of Buddhism:
It is actually a quite harmless number, nothing but a number to revere Lord Buddha and his teachings. However, it is because of some anti-Islamic campaign that tarred the image of these three numbers.
Some people said that this 969 was made up to counteract the Islam's 786, a number that you can see posted on some Muslim shops in Myanmar, to say that they were Muslim-owned. It represents the phrase "bismillah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim", or "In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful", which is represented with the number 786. Some people believed that when you add this 7+8+6, you get "21", which meant that Islam will take over Burma (I've heard other people said the whole world!). A typical kind of hate-speech you hear about Muslims, which I just ignored.
When I first heard about the "969" thing, I thought that it was pitiful that it was like trying to copy Islam's show of their faith. Myanmar shops already have such kind of words already to represent that shops are Myanmar-owned: We have the word "Arahan" displayed at signboards of some shops. We have the words "Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha" displayed at some shops, to show off that you're a proud Buddhist. So why the need for another sign?
Then some monks had to preach about anti-Muslim sermons, urging to boycott Muslim businesses, and then the 969 Sticker Campaign started. Shops, buses, and taxis were seen with these stickers.
Not too soon after this sticker campaign, the riots in Meikhtila started. Some rebutted that "969 Movement" was a non-violence "peaceful" movement, but you can't deny that it ultimately led to violence because it just stirred up the already instilled hatred towards the Muslims.
I'm a Buddhist. I'm a Burmese living in Myanmar. But I just don't have anything against the Muslims living in Myanmar. They have been living in Myanmar for so many years, just like the Chinese Myanmars. They are our neighbours, they are our co-workers, they are our classmates, they are our friends. What's wrong with that? They worship their religion. We worship our religion. What's wrong with that? The fundamental of all religions is based on peace. There are good people in Buddhists. There are bad people in Buddhists. Likewise, there will be good people and bad people in Christians, Muslims, or Hindus, or any other religions. There are only two kinds of people for me: good people and bad people. Why can't people get the simplicity of that logic?
You don't have to prosecute another religion just so that your own religion will grow. What kind of religion would it be if you had to use violence and bloodshed just to uphold it? Nobody can destroy the God that you have kept in your heart. You just have to follow what your religion has teach and try to be a good person, who doesn't have to survive at the sake of others. That's what I firmly believe, as a Buddhist. I am not praying 24 hours a day, but I try my best to have a good heart, and try my best to follow Buddha's teachings. Lord Buddha has never said that we would have to make people suffer for the propagation of Buddhism.
So yes... I'll still be eating biryani rice. I will still be eating Shwe Nyaung Pin chicken salad (yummy!). I will still be buying top-up cards from that little 786 mobile shop near my office. Because what makes me a true Buddhist is not to boycott or hate Muslims - it is believing in peaceful co-existence and living my life to the fullest, helping people, no matter what their religions are, and try my best to follow Buddha's teachings.
"It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways." - Buddha
Monday, 29 April 2013
Just testing out editing photos in black and white. I really love Black & White photography for its simplicity. Of course, I'm nowhere near as good as the professionals. I don't take photos in black & white, for one. Just edited them in Photoshop, testing out while watching video tutorials on Black & White photo editing.
2009@Mingun Stupa, Sagaing Division, Myanmar
This is my first photo that I posted in Black & White in 2009. At that time, I was trying out a DSLR camera for the first time (a Canon 20D, borrowed from my father's office) and testing with different settings. I didn't like the colors so I was just tweaking in Photoshop and just thought to try Black & White mode and liked the result.
2010@Chaungthar Beach, Ayeyarwaddy Division
This one is something I thought to try editing while looking back in my old photos to edit as black & white. Sweet dog too. This photo was taken on the very first time that I visited Chaungthar Beach with Canon IXUS 860 IS - a compact camera.
Below photos are taken at the last time that I went to Chaungthar Beach.
2013@Chaungthar Beach, in front of Hotel Ace
2013@Chaungthar Beach, one of the crabs that I released from the sellers :)
2013@Brother & Sister Beach
2013@ My boyfriend waiting in front of Naypyidaw Cinema, to watch Iron Man III yesterday :) Photo taken with my Samsung Galaxy Ace phone.
Thursday, 25 April 2013
Before Thingyan break, I went on a day trip with MYiA members to a rubber plantation. It was more of a relaxing trip, rather than a field trip where you had to spend all time studying rubber plants. We mostly lazed around under the shade, eating freshly fried chicken (poor chicks!) and drinking toddy palm juice (not me).
The plantation is actually owned by a friend's uncle, and we just thought that it'll be a nice thing to gather and have fun together before everyone goes on their Thingyan holidays. We had the choice to ride along on the car, but we chose to walk to get to the place.
The below photos were taken only on the way back, because I didn't think to take photos when we first came (which was from another way).
Blue Skies, Hot Weather
That's a nice erm.. male chicken :P
All you see is rubber trees!
The sap has already been collected in the morning
Rubber sap is collected in this way
Explaining about rubber sap collection
Talking with the Locals
Can you see the chicks?
Locals who are hired to guard the plantation
One of the houses in the rubber plantation
Walking back to the main road
Monk's housing is quite simple
Fresh cool water
Walking across Nga Moe Yeik creek, which has been dammed to irrigate the fields
Nga Moe Yeik Creek
We had to wade across this stream. It was fun!
MYiA Members Hand in Hand ;)
Walking across dry fields
Rubber tree saplings only about 2 years old
Back on the main road! We sent the car ahead since we wanted to walk and it was waiting for us on the main road. They drove from the road out of the village while we walked along the footpath to the main road. It was a pleasant walk (though the weather was so hot!) because all the different sights and scenes along the way. Children who lived in the plantation had to walk along this path to get to the school on the main road.
Once again, I didn't take my DSLR there. All photos taken with a compact camera (and edited a bit in Photoshop :)
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Myanmar's New Year Festival, known as Thingyan, was celebrated over four days, where we celebrate by pouring water over each other.
Today's actually the Myanmar New Year Day. The water-throwing has stopped and today is a day for making merits.
I stayed at home during the last four days just doing some translation works. There's a small water-throwing pedal in front of my home, made by my neighbours, and I took photos at the last day of the water-throwing.
A festival like Thingyan is also celebrated at the same time in Thailand (known as Songkran), Laos, Cambodia, and some parts of Yunnan, China.
This is what I wrote for Thingyan 2010. Learned that "never say never", cos I now have a lovely boyfriend. :D
It's too bad that he's not that much of a Thingyan type. Otherwise, we would have gone out to a big water-throwing pavillion (mandat) or go out with a car. Instead, he chose to stay at home, and I did the same too for the previous days because I was busy with my translation works. Only on the last day, I joined in the festivities. :)
He did come to visit me for awhile on the last day though so I got to throw water on him. This is something memorable because it is the first time ever for me to throw water on him. During the last three years, he had been travelling with family, so I didn't get to do so.
Anyways, wishing you all to have a have a wonderful day from this part of the world. :)
Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Last month, I went to Chaungthar Beach during the holidays, and stayed there at the beach for 3 nights and 4 days.
We stayed at The Hotel Ace, which is the outermost hotel at the very entrance of Chaungthar. During the stay there, I ended up making friends with local kids, whom I first got to know when I bought crabs to release into the sea. These kids buy live crabs at the market and goes around the beach with a pail full of crabs, asking people to release them to get merits. Whenever I went to Chaungthar Beach, I always purchase a few crabs to release because I wanted to support their honest way of working for a living.
They got very friendly with me and my friends and they accompanied us whenever we went out for a swim at the beach. They'll be waiting for us in front of our hotel every morning, and calling out "Sister! Brother! Come swim with us!"
He's young but a champion swimmer
A natural at cute poses ;P
Eating rakhine moat te after having a swim. She sold shell necklaces and bracelets.
The youngest of the bunch. Doesn't he look like Luffy from One Piece?
2 other girls playing around on the beach
Having fun with his newly found wig!
Below photo was taken at my last night on Chaungthar. We bought some freshly-grilled prawns from the local vendors and was sharing them together.
Adorable, ain't they?
One of the must go places when you go to Chaungthar is to Kyauk Maung Hna Ma (Brother and Sister Beach), some miles away from the main Chaungthar Beach. I must have written about it many times in my previous Chaungthar entries. hehe I just LOVE that place. It's not too much ideal for swimming in the morning because of strong waves, but I'm sure that if you're a good swimmer, you won't have much problem. The hotel we stayed at was nearest hotel to that place, and it took about 15 minutes on motorcycle. You can also drive there if you came with your own car.
Long stretch of the beach without any hotels there. Just simply beautiful.
We went there in the morning, so the view was abit hazy.
Under the shade, with coconut juice
Message in a bottle? :P
Recyclers (they comb the beach for empty bottles and beer cans and sell them back)
If you aren't going first, I am!!
This time, I managed to walk down the long stretch of beach, and left my footprints in the sand. I only saw one tourist who went there, and a local horse-rider (You can ride horses along the beach for a fee)
Some ME Times
At the rocks near the hotel
At Brother and Sister Rocks Beach
Previously, we had stayed at the stretch of beach all the way down south near the Chaungthar village so we weren't able to view the sunset directly. But this time, we were able to view the sunset as the stretch of beach we were at faced directly west.
Sunset at Chaungthar Beach (I was abit late ;P)
I just love my time there, and this time, it was more enjoyable because the other times I visited there, it was youth camp programs, so I didn't get time to fully relax. This time, we did nothing but eat, sleep and swim. As for the food, I asked a local to cook for us. You can find many of them on the #beach, who offer cooking services for about 1500 Ks. ~ 2000 Ks. per meal (for one person). We had to pay 2000 Ks., but if you come with a large group, you can bargain for 1500 Ks. You can get fresh sea food. We ordered seafood for all meals: crabs, prawns, abalones, squid (either cooked or salad) alternating between days. I just love the #crab curry they cook for us. Yumm! Sorry but no photos of the food we ate. hehe
I wish to go there again this May with another group of my friends. :D