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Myanmar

Katha

January 2010 • Katha was magic—a sleepy little river town that was once home to George Orwell but today gets no love from the guide book. On our first day, Adam and I were riding in a small local ferry when a bright-eyed, enthusiastic guy named Myint Zau chatted us up. MZ teaches English for free at his village school, and he invited us to meet his dozen young students the next day. He and a friend picked us up on the other side of the river and gave us a white-knuckle ride on their motorbikes (mine didn't have foot rests) through open fields, along dirt paths, past oxcarts and slack-jawed old-timers and a house full of screaming monkeys. At the village, we were feted by the school committee, then we gave a couple of brief language lessons to MZ's group while the entire school watched, including parents peering through windows. We were the first foreigners to ever visit the village, so we donated $100 toward the construction of a new school, the foundation of which had already been laid. Back in Katha, this improbably perfect day ended at a pagoda festival where we got the ferris-wheel ride of a lifetime.

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