The hospitality of the people here has been amazing. Perhaps the best example of that is what happened when I asked a student who speaks English well where I could have some shoes repaired for my wife.
There are no cobblers in Ellensburg anymore so my wife sent along a pair of her favorite shoes with me to Myanmar thinking it would be easier to find a cobbler to repair them here than back at home. I expected the student to just give me an address which I would then find on my own. Instead the whole department became engaged in trying to solve the problem of my wife’s red shoes.
Ultimately, I rode all the way from our campus in the southern suburbs across Mandalay (a city the size of Spokane) on the back of a graduate student’s Chinese motorbike with two other students accompanying us on another bike. We found the cobbler, but he was very busy and asked us to come back in a few hours.
So, the students took me to see several of the Buddhist sites on and around Mandalay Hill, one of the holiest sites in this region. When we finally got back to the cobbler, the grand total for fixing my wife’s shoes was the equivalent of 60 cents.
[CWU Geography Professor John Bowen will be sharing his experiences of living and working abroad in regular dispatches appearing on Cwucrimsonandblack.com. He and other Wildcats abroad are featured in the Spring 2020 issue of Crimson & Black, CWU’s alumni magazine, available in May.]