Category Archives: Myanmar


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AR (Augmented Reality)

Beach Road 360 “VR” movie (+ screening at Singapore National Museum)

360 films

Stephen Black in Beach Road, the film he co-produced with Hiverlab

Stephen Black’s Book and ebooks

Bubiko Foodtour

David Severn

The Doughbots

The Dundercats

The Fierce Aunty’s No-nonsense Guide to the Perfect Laksa by Nazlina Hussin

Hotel Abby 72 hour Facebook Live Event

i ate tiong bahru

I ate where Orwell ate

Instagram Bubiko Foodtour

Ipoh’s Branding as a Tourist Destination

IPOH: 38 iPhone Photographs by Bubiko Foodtour AR app on Google Play and Apple’s App Store

IPOH: 88 iPhone Photographs by Bubiko Foodtour ebook on Amazon

SPOKEN virtual gallery

Symphony Suites 60 hour Facebook Live event

Thumb-shaped kueh artwork

Toyo photo and video art and book project


Yangon Notes (4 of 9)

The flyer for Wolfgang Bellwinkel’s 2016 exhibition at the Yangon Goethe Institut

I was unable to see the exhibition, but the single piece of paper used to explain and promote Wolfgang Bellwinkel's  photographs was a gem. Understated but knowledgeable, the layout and design have a quiet presence that doesn't   distract from the perfectly chosen photograph. I salute the writer of the text. I can feel the city and the exhibition in these words alone. The writer is intelligent, educated, yet not acrobatic. The writer is sharing meaningful words, ideas and facts. Yes, the "enchanting" line is cliche and one or two sentences are too long and maybe some areas "feel tight" because of what might be translation, but these things are OK. It aint perfect, but its perfect for Yangon. Yangon Backstage A sort of vital melancholy is radiated by the the City of Yangon, drawing visitors under its enchanting spell. What remains of the once thriving colonial metropolis after the bombs of World War II, the ideological imperatives of "Burmese socialism" and now the wrecking balls of the investors is a unique urban structure, jagged scars and gaping voids among the remains of former greatness, filled with improvised life. The present inhabitants, few of whom have anything in common with the former population, have settled into this crumbling ensemble,with memories of ancient splendour and hopes of a better tomorrow. The city seems to float between remains and possibilities, between perseverance and renewal. In which direction the the good intentions of the urban planners and the interests of big money will drive the development, no one can say. Wolfgang Bellwinkel's photos capture this strange state of suspension. His view is austere. He highlights the significant detail that stands for the larger picture of downtown Yangon, creating in a few images an extensive inventory that consistently avoids the all too frequent aestheticsation of decay. Wolfgang Bellwinkel(born 1959) is an internationally recognized photographer whose extensive travels have taken him around the world. After lengthy stays in Asia (Bangkok), he now resides in Berlin. Goethe-villa no 8 Ko Min Ko Chin Road opened January 15 for month of January Goethe Institute  
a well design exhibition pamphlet

Flyer for Yangon Backstage, Wolfgang Bellwinkel's 2016 show exhibition at the Goethe Institut in Yangon

Burmese text Yangon Backstage flyer front Yangon backstage English notes

Laphet, Hugh Howie and Brothers Cole, Bunker and Frankenstein

banana leaf on table I cut my first living banana leaf today. What a decision it had been! Do I chop off the large, gloriously perfect leaf that'd swayed in the sunbeams? If so, and if it turned out to be too big, I'd feel like I'd wasted something precious. Should I've picked an older leaf that would probably drop to the ground within a week or two? Or a young one, firm, green and vitalic? Finally, I found one of average size that was identical to the one below it. My thinking was that I would be wacking off a leaf but the tree would be fine.I set it on the table outside and went back into the kitchen to wash the laphet again. brigitte kitchen bars sunburst The longer you soak laphet, the milder it tastes. At first, I had been greatly disappointed that my partner hadn't started soaking last night. But I forced myself to shift my mental gears into neutral, and as I stood there squeezing and kneading the laphet in its cool bowl of water, I became content; almost joyful. I was, for the first time in my life, preparing food that I would share and eat with strangers.(That mechanical and mindless job at Pizza Inn doesn't count.) I washed the laphet, thinking of the hillside in Myanmar from where it came. I thought of many things: some celestial,some ancestral, some menial, some commercial. I realized that I wanted to share the experience of this morning in Bali. But there is a calculating side to me. If I post something personal, am I sharing life experiences or defining my brand? Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer exchange tweets and it is cute and wonderful, but something I think I could never do. I also recalled the names of Hugh Howey, Nick Cole and Michael Bunker, all writers who sell books. I am envious of their ability to post parts of their lives online. Michael Bunker's daughters are not afraid of snakes, the Texas sun or hard work. My daughter was probably the youngest female CEO on Wall Street ever. (Twenty-two!) Nick Cole's got a lovely partner and runs his Armageddon-themed writing empire while enjoying what seems to be a very comfortable Southern California lifestyle. My partner is xxxxx and I struggle to do my art and video stuff and write books about Tiong Bahru, Bali, cancer-fighting mushrooms, VR, art and a fictitious reality TV show called Celebrity Sphinctre. I'm presently based Bali, in a beautifully strange building with a thatched roof. Hugh Howey is soon to sail around the world and I hope for a way to automatically share his posts, including the funny GIFs he reposts. His thousands of fans seem to like reading about his adventures.(I am not sure if I have any fans, but that is another story.) branch lobster If I posted pictures of my partner and I enjoying palm wine as the sun set over the Sea of Bali, I might get the "likes" and comments required to receive momentary blessings from the gods of internet algorithms.My post might travel far but it would lack anything of substance; it would have almost nothing in common with my writing/art. But, I guess, it would be building and supporting my brand. I would likely start to post more things like that, as positive reinforcement encourages repeated behavior. As I think these thoughts I am kneading and massaging the fermented tea leaves in cool water. I'm surprised by the greenness of the water. It is not the green of something undesirable; I think the fermentation process released the pigment of the leaves, if that is possible. Michael Bunker:our interaction has been one of donuts and disappointment. For me, anyway- the disappointment part. I imagined, and wrote about, his Bombo and my Verry Larch wolfing down donuts in the Tiong Bahru Community Center. Michael, being the successful writer and busy man that he is, was ultimately unable to put in the time required for a collaborative writing project. Understandable, but yeah, disappointing. It would have been fun and a nice creative challenge. A witty retort slapdown between Bombo and Verry, the air filled with tossed bon mots, French crullers and kueh dadar.(Oh yeah related to this sort of thing... there was this...) I'm alternating between "being one" with the laphet I'm washing and thinking of Michael Bunker sitting at his desk, surrounded by his self-sufficient, Amish farm. A copy of Brother Frankenstein is in front of him. Brother. Here in Southeast Asia, it is used very often. When I first read the title "Brother Frankenstein" it seemed gimmicky; superficial. I had to admit though, it is convenient, eye-catching and memorable. Perfect on a commercial level. But this morning, it clicked: the Amish use the words "brother" and "sister" as honorifics. Not only signifying the fact that all men are brothers, the word is functions like "Mr." but is warmer and more social; human. Michael's title connects his book with Mary Shelley's legendary monster and gives us an insight into the mind of its lead character. The main character's use of the phrase "Brother Frankenstein" would have the most multi-layered linguistic interpretations possible.(No I have not read the book, only the description and the FB posts and comments. However, Nick Cole says that is deserving of a Nebula Award.) I'm writing this while my memories are as fresh as the morning. The roosters have stopped crowing. My mouth has finally stopped burning-- I'd picked a tiny red chili and kept it in my mouth most of the morning. Soon I have to go make food art with Mom. I've shared my images and made a post. So there ya Or sister. Onward. ................................. My latest book is called Bali Wave Ghost and if you'd like a signed copy, send me a bit of cash and I'll send ya one.We can do a digital print and I'll make sure its unique;a collector's item.(Not only will it be unique, you can help me choose it.) Oh yeah... when I think of Michael Bunker and Nick Cole, I cannot help but think of Rob. He is an unsung hero. It would require a couple of orchestras and a Pavaratti, a Sinatra a Maria Calas to sing his praises. orange flower in garden

Notes on Laphet Thoke or Pickled Tea Leaf Salad (1)

Notes for an upcoming presentation and a booklet about Myanmar's favorite snack food: laphet thoke.

pickled tea leaf salad

Myanmar's national dish and a very healthy snack.

Myanmar is the only country where tea leaves are eaten. Translated into English, 'laphet thoke' means 'pickled tea leaf salad'.

Uncooked,like a salad, laphet thoke starts with a foundation of fermented tea leaves,to which are added a variety of ingredients, such as tomatoes, garlic, peanuts,fried beans,small fish,cabbage, chickpeas and ginger.Oil is almost always used, the best considered to be sesame oil or peanut oil. Lemon or limes are also used.

It is said that laphet thoke was served as part of peacemaking negotiations. Though all parties shared a common dish, each individual could create a salad to suit their own tastes.

Caffeine! Laphet thoke is made from tea, and often used to help people stay awake.

I discovered laphet toke at some of the food shops in Singapore's Peninsula Plaza, which is often referred to as Little Myanmar. In January of 2016, Sayuri Okayama and I spent ten days in Yangon, primarily to research laphet thoke for a small booklet.

I enjoy laphet thoke because it has a great "mouth feel". It is not much to look at,but when chewed slowly, a beautiful experience occurs. Crunchiness, softness, bitterness,citrus tastes, earthy tastes, the sparks of garlic and chilies; all of these stimulate the mouth and tongue to create a something like a flavorful tea but with much more character. The aftertaste is like a mirage; almost like the sweetness of fresh water.

Laphet thoke + white rice= ecstasy

A recipe for laphet thoke...

Another recipe and a great introduction by S. H. Fernando Jr.

Richard Eilers, writing about laphet thoke for The Guardian

Laphet thoke Wikipedia

Yangon Notes (3 of 9)

This gallery contains 21 photos.

Second day: morning walk on one of the alleys off of Insein Street. Pancakes and tea. Back to hotel, off to find printing area. Was told there were many shops around 31st St. Had no address and walked around in … Continue reading

Yangon Notes 1 of 9 (night)

Cool weather. At twilight we walked down Insein Road. We discovered Sergio, who gave us directions to the train. We had a beer and I broke the Bowie news to him. The grey darkness with punctuations of food stalls. Trishaws. A Korean/Japanese supermarket where the all-girl staff exploded with a greeting. Bought mochis and looked at purses. It was getting late and we decided to take a taxi. 5000kyat to 19th Street. No Joe, No Joe, No Joe. Found a phone and made contact;got an address. Again, no Joe. Phone again. Address and the info that he was upstairs. Joe was getting a massage with his business colleagues. We waited across the street and then they came over. Talked about one of the times Joe almost ran out of air. Beer and laphet toke. The very loud, very terrible music and speeding through Yangon. There is a law that says the AC must be on if there are foreigners in a car? All three us trying to pull up the window. Rangoon, Yangon, Yangoon, Yangoo? IMG_3531scc xmas tree mother and child photo IMG_3535 scc mochi in hand on street IMG_3547 scc bus abstract yellow IMG_3607 scc shipcleaning video IMG_3604 la phet toke in styrofoam w Joe 19th st IMG_3586 scc Joe peace sign IMG_3557 scc trail of lights dark shadow woman IMG_3580 mother and child  night market father