Escape From Myanmar

A brief on the chain of events leading to my ‘escape’ from Myanmar.

9th July – Arrived in Yangon, Myanmar. Travelled to Chanmyay Yeiktha Hmawbhi and registered for meditation retreat.

12th July – Started Formal Meditation Retreat.

30th July – Started Rains Retreat.

August – Happily Meditating and observing the rains.

September – Still Happily Meditating and observing the rains. Sometimes it rains for three whole days … geez.

27th September – 10am: Received call from my family and told that there was protest in Yangon and it’s unsafe to stay in Myanmar. Sayadaw in centre assures that it is not serious and is safe.

28th September – 12pm: Received 2nd call and told that there were casualties and should evacuate. Called the Singapore Embassy in Yangon and was advised by Mr. Sim Siong Chye, the Embassy’s 1st Secretary, to evacuate the same day to the embassy if possible
– 2pm: Took leave from the Chanmyay Sayadaw and left via the centre’s transport.
– Late afternoon 5pm: Arrived at the Singapore Embassy and was received by Mr. Sim.
– 9+pm: Internet access had been severed. Contacted sister in Singapore to reschedule the return flight to 30th September 10:35am flight.

29th September – 8:40am: Left for the airport under escort by Mr. Sim in an Embassy vehicle.
– 9:30am: Arrived at the airport and began check-in procedures at the JetStar counter. Waited for awhile as their internet access is also down and they could not confirm our new schedule. They only had a piece of name list at the counter. Finally at 10:10am, the counter staffs somehow confirmed our seats.
– 10:40+am: Jetstar flight took off for Singapore.
– 3:00pm (SIN): Arrived safely in Singapore.

1st October – Back in KMSPKS.

FOOTNOTE:

In all, I didn’t really witness any action or violence, though there was visible tension when we neared Yangon. The usual busy streets were reduced to a trickle of cars while the tea houses that commonly line the background were mostly closed.

Except for some stares, the time at the airport was mostly normal, though somewhat confusing as there weren’t visible attempts by the Jetstar staffs to help verify our e-tickets. With the internet access severed, we understand that it would be back to manual confirmation, but given the tense situation, a bit more of an effort would have been
appreciated.
Special Thanks to Mr. Sim and Mr. Kenneth Kwah for their assistance in arranging for our admission and lodging at their apartments in the Embassy, and arranging for the flight back to Singapore. Thank you!

Last but not least, kudos to the two Sayadaws who escorted us to the Embassy, at possible risk to themselves. I am still puzzled why they didn’t seem to be concerned at all that they would be mistaken for protesters and duly dealt with. Oh well. I am always indebted to them anyway. Thank you!