Golf in Yangon -Part 2
I promised to let readers know how my first trip to finally play a round of
golf went. So, this Friday on my first day off (without rain) and as I am an
early riser, I got up at 5 and arrived at the course at 6.30 a.m.
is a picture of my golf ball sitting on a mud hill. The grass surrounding
the ball is actually the fairway. It was soaking wet today, I was sprinkled
with mud up to my face.
The formalities, presenting the membership card, paying 1
US$ green fee and US$2 caddie fee and 1 US$ cart fee, went reasonably fast.
The tee off area, when I stood on it, well, I have seen
better ones, but never mind. I would place my ball on a tee anyway. I hit
the ball pretty well actually. Accustomed that a ball hit with a driver
rolls for some more yards after it lands on the fairway, I was surprised
when it didn’t move an inch. Funny I thought, last night it didn’t rain,
but let’s see. I went back to the caddie who smiled at me, a gorgeous
looking girl with yellow paste on her cheeks and forearms. We walked on the
cemented pathway and approached the area where my ball landed.
Being on the same height as I thought the ball was, I
couldn’t see the white thing. But my caddie walked confidently onto the
fairway, picked up the ball, took some sand out of her little bag and
constructed a little pyramid. My ball was placed back on top of this. Now I
also stepped on the fairway and was welcomed with a slurp, caused by the
water on top of the soil, unable to drain as the groundwater level must have
been right below the surface. Arriving at the ball, I looked for the caddie
and the cart, both waiting on the cemented pathway.
I called for a 7 (iron not wood) after I looked at the
distance to the hole. She smiled and stood motionless. No English, I
thought, and went back over troubled waters to my golf bag, withdrawing my
club. At this time, the water already swamped into my shoes and walking
wasn’t that easy with the high water level. I started to perspire on the
first hole prior to my second shot. Lesson No. 1 learned here: the caddie I
hired was only for pulling or pushing the cart with my golf bag. If you need
someone to carry the club selection as required from and to the golf bag, a
second caddie needs to be hired, but who knows in the beginning?
Arriving back at the pyramid, I mustered for the first
time the type of grass the fairway was laid out with. I thought, that’s
heavy rough on other courses in Thailand. I looked to the side into the
rough and saw a jungle. A rule of the Golf Club allows that if you land in
the jungle, you can lay off the ball one club length from the landing area
of the ball. If you are further off, you better take voluntarily a drop
shot. This opportunity I was forced to take on various occasions during the
round. I fought my way through the first nine holes and seriously thought
about giving up. Being so early on the course, I assumed to be the first one
around, but that was only a guess. On the fourth hole I caught up with two
groups of golfers in front of me, one consisting of four, the other of five.
I got stuck, since they had no intention of letting me through. Luckily,
they finished the game after nine holes.
On the 17th hole, I heard a noise and looked up. Thai
Airways was lifting off for Bangkok, how much I wished I could be on this
plane to finish off the last two holes in a beautiful country which I miss
more every day. By that time (17th hole) I already thought about the need
for a hip replacement, as 4 hours of walking through mud and water had taken
its toll on my legs. The skin on my feet, inside my socks and shoes had
already peeled off.
On the 18th, I felt as you will, if you ever play here,
like a winner, not because of a good round of golf, but because I made it.
The next day my girlfriend came. So, being a little sarcastic, this time I
wanted to give her the pleasure of something original and we went to that
same golf course with a friend. She usually plays well (she has a single
handicap), much better than me, but she looked drained at the end and I
actually never saw her doing so many miss-hits, which made me feel pretty
By the way, Burmese citizens are great golfers and they
are able to hit their golf balls very far and with great accuracy. It makes
me wonder why there are not many Burmese in the PGA or WPGA tour events.
With regards to the fees mentioned above, they seem reasonably low; however,
playing golf with membership can easily get the price tag up. You can expect
a green fee between US$35 and 50 during weekdays and up to 65 US$ on
weekends. Expect and do not complaint, when Burmese play only 1/10 or 1/50
what you pay as a foreigner on the course. This is not different from the
Thai system and finally something familiar.
There is a beautiful golf course in Yangon, called Pun
Hlaing, which is of international standards and all conditions mentioned
above are not valid for this magnificent piece of landscaping.
Is this the future of Thailand?
I live in Chiang Mai to study for my MBA and moved into one of the student
compounds. For the last couple of weeks I wonder what is wrong and with who?
I read everywhere how nice, friendly and clean Thais are
I agree about the friendliness in shops and on the
street. I disagree with friendliness regarding traffic and with just a
‘hello’ when you leave the room. I tried so many times - just outside in
the hallway to say hello to the neighbors or their guests, which is a
‘normal thing of politeness’. But they rather bend down to close their
shoes rather than greeting.
Next to me is the room of 2 students (girls) and I watch
almost daily the way they ‘clean’ their room. Just the broom and out
with everything in the hallway - somebody will eventually clean it. It is
disgusting to say what they clean out. Is this the future of a country that
claims to be the pride of Asia?
My friends back home told me I still suffer from
‘culture shock’ but I do not. I’ve been here now a little over 4
months and it is not getting better. People are ‘afraid’ of my ‘big
eyes’, they try to leave a seat between me and them in the university and
they are just the contrary of friendly. I tried everything, even with
inviting a bunch of guys to my room in the evening. They said ‘yes’ but
nobody showed up. I know this again is a way of not making me feel bad …
but I had some specialties from home and just wanted to get to know people.
It does not work.
I am just frustrated and had to get it off my chest! Chiangmai
Mail is the only thing where I seem to find information what is really
going on in the city, that’s why you received it. Hopefully things will
get better with time, since I chose to come here and I want to make it work.
Poetry - A Pathway to Peace
I would like to share this poetry with the readers. It was written by
Venetia Waltrey, Pasay Lamphun. Thanks.
Poetry - A Pathway to
If all the paths to war were paved
With poetry of peace
Perhaps the men who tread that path,
Might cause the wars to cease.
For poetry enables us,
To search the human heart,
And they might find a peaceful path
Where wars could play no part.
The conquest of the human heart
Is where the wars are won
The Buddha won that battle
And showed it can be done.
So let us join the battle
Where Peace can reign supreme
Peace in our hearts
Peace in our world
No longer just a dream.
It’s panda-monium in Chiang Mai
Life is good - at least for us Chiang Maians. Why? Because we don’t worry
about nuclear weapons which can’t be found in Iraq, we don’t worry about
APEC and Pres. Bush’s presence in Bangkok later this month, we don’t
worry about possible terrorist attacks, we just worry about the pandas (!)
arriving in Chiang Mai. Isn’t that nice? Every single Thai person you talk
to nowadays, the topic is (or will be changed to) “pandas”. The farangs
you talk to? Well, it’s pandas too, but with a slightly different
approach. Some are really concerned about the money which has been spent on
the facilities, and the animals themselves, and that that money could have
been used for ... ok, ok, we know.
But most of them comment the article in your paper last
week (“Panda pandering continues”), and the heartbreaking story
describing how they met, how they (hopefully) will enjoy their first
intercontinental flight, and all that. Really, really sweet. It’s good to
read news approached with a good sense of humor, but still informative,
because that’s exactly what we need in our times.
Having lived in this wonderful country for a number of
years, I learned to look at the bright side of life, I learned not to take
life toooooo serious, and to enjoy the little, yet equally important,
things. If I would want this country to become just like my mother country,
I should rather go home. It’s me who has to adapt, because it’s me who
has chosen to live here. If I have a reason to be concerned about the
upcoming new regulations for foreigners, I am the one who should consider
leaving. Or, alternatively, get my act together, and my papers legally in
order. But I’m loosing it ... because, for this week, all I am concerned
about is that the cute pandas will arrive safe and sound, that they will not
catch the flu, that the immigration officers will be friendly and smiling,
that the imported bamboo is to their liking (the Pandas, that is, not the
immigration...), and that the thousands and thousands of well-wishers on the
streets will not scare them off. If it’s not raining, I’ll be there. I
Help the kids
The poor children of Buddha Kasetra School (Karuna Dana Project) need your
help! More information from Phra Daniel Nagasiri, tel. 06 185 8612 or email:
Peace and wisdom to you all!