While I've set forth some practical tips below, the most salient advice I have can be whittled down to the following: keep an open mind, even when that seems counter intuitive to you. These are the quirky, non-linear excursions that lead you to some of the more fulfilling and fascinating times in Burma. Though I realized this fact quite early on in my trip, it wasn't until Mandalay that I had solid proof: having left my Blackberry in Yangon - with no cell network, I figured I did not need it - I realized I had no alarm clock. And with sporadic electricity, something battery-related was required. At Mandalay's night market, I picked up this gem of a clock for $1 (1,000 Kyat):

 

It was cute, green and would wake me up in the morning, all for a good price. The problem was, when I put in a battery and time started moving backwards. As in, the second hand moved counter-clockwise, and the hands on the clock actually rotated the wrong way as well.

In the next few days, I picked up a replacement but the story remains relevant to all things Burma: in such a complex country with a tangled, tragic history don't even expect the time to move the way you are used to. Open mind. It works wonders.

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  • Jodi Ettenberg

    Born in Montreal, Canada, Jodi Ettenberg is a former new media and technology lawyer who quit her job after 5+ years of working…

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