musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

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It was the full moon night in late November, a period known as Tazaungdaing in Myanmar, and also the time of a very popular annual festival. My friend Ma Pu Sue, who runs the Bamboo Delight Cooking Class in Nyaungshwe with her husband Lesly, decided to throw a very memorable party that night at her home.

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Not only did Sue and Lesly prepare a very tasty spread of food — grilled fish, seasonal salads, and two varieties of sticky rice — but the invited guests were treated to a live traditional Shan band, complete with a knife dancer. The locals mixed with the foreigners — guests from France, the Netherlands, Kenya, and the USA — and everyone pretty much danced all night.

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The wine and whiskey were flowing — or in some cases with Lesly pouring the contents of a bottle down the throats of a few eager local fellows — as the guests were smiling and dancing the night away. Isabelle from France had a flock of young neighborhood girls mimicking her every choreographed dance move and when she finally sat down to take a break, a couple of the girls started copying my more rather freestyle moves! Better that, I guess, than trying to copy the moves of the boy who had been dancing with the two long knives!

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A few hours later, the band had stopped playing, the knife boy was dancing with the rest of us (thankfully, without those knives!), and a few of the more inebriated men had to be propped up against the wall of Sue’s new guest room so that nobody would trip over them. All things considered, it was another fabulous night under the moonlight in Nyaungshwe’s lovely Shan State.

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