This is Also Rakhine

April 14, 2014


Today starts the Myanmar holiday of Thingyan. This is the Buddhist New Year and everything shuts down for a week. If you’re a lucky government employee you get two weeks. That means practically nothing’s getting done with the exception of a lot of water throwing and a lot of catering to tourists, mostly Myanmar, but also a handful of Western tourists here in Ngapali where my Health Program Manager and I have decided to find refuge for the week. UNDSS (UN Security Department) has recommended we not be in Sittwe during this time. Of course our phones are still tied to our hips and we’re only a short 30 minute plane flight from Sittwe if we need to get there for an emergency. We also have national staff based in both of our project locations providing daily monitoring. All seems peaceful so far.

So far.

We landed in Ngapali, a beach getaway in southern Rakhine State with miles and miles of white sand beaches and so far, lots of vacant beach chairs. We’re both looking at each other asking where all the tourists are during this supposedly busy holiday week. We could care less. We’re enjoying the relative quiet and solitude.

So far.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here on out.  But before I do, I was reminded by the endless blue ocean, the surf pounding on the rocks, the many smiling faces around us, the coconut trees reaching for the sky, the sweetness of a traditional Myanmar dessert at lunch, the many flowers in every color of the rainbow… and yes, of course my daughter who entered my mind (and is always in my heart), that this is really a very beautiful world. Despite the meanness, the seeming unfairness, the injustice, the poverty, the greed, the envy, the hatred, the violence, there is so much beauty around us.

Tonight I’m going to go out on the beach and sit under the stars. They shine for all of  us. They write a song for us. Take some time today, no matter what frustration, what anger, what jealousy, what perplexing moment may enter your day. Take a moment to turn it around and make the day yours. Make it shine.

I hope all of you who read this have someone to lean on; someone to love; someone who understands. And that you can return the same to them.

My many blessings,


Yes, this is also Rakhine!

On the beach

Cart on the beach


Morning horses

Cleaning nights ashes


Island bar

Reaching for the sky


Fishing Boats

Cocktails by candle light


Bringing in the fish

Sunken and forgotten

End of the day in harbor

Sippin' in the shade


This is also Rakhine


All content copyrighted © Stephen Tavella




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: