Set Set Yo
And a Little Child

A year and a half ago, I returned to visit my family in Myanmar during winter break from teaching. Moh Moh was my tour guide in the Inle Lake area on my first trip to Myanmar. Ko Ko was my guide on my second visit. However, my third trip was our first family tour. I told Moh Moh and Ko Ko that I wanted to see a couple of places that I had visited before, but the rest of our family tour was up to them. Click on Myanmar 2019-2020 and see our itinerary.

My granddaughters and I went on an elephant ride. Hannibal crossed the Alps with 37 elephants and 30,000 soldiers. I felt like Hannibal crossing the Myanmar Alps with one elephant and my three granddaughters.

The family went to the Buddha Cave and admired the Buddha Tower.

We floated over Bagan and saw 40-square miles of various sizes of Buddhist religious buildings. It took 250 years between the 9th and 13th centuries to amass over 10,000 stupas, shrines, and pagodas. Today, there are only 2,500 are still intact.

It was a priceless experience for our family. However, the one place which was way off the traditional tourist spots was Set Set Yo village. It was a fascinating place due to it being the only remaining place where children still wear yaung pae soo, which Westerners would call a topknot with a fringe around it. That tradition dated back to the 850s, well over a millennium ago.

We went to Set Set Yo as a part of our family tour. Interestingly, Moh Moh and Ko Ko bought notebooks and pencils for the dozens of children. The parents of my grandchildren live in a developing country as they struggle to care for their own family, but they share what they have with those less fortunate. Their concern for those children wasn’t something that they mentioned to me. I was just the way that Buddhists function.

This video must have been taken by Ti Ti. At the beginning of the video, I held a little boy who was a year or a little older. Apparently, he wanted one of Moh Moh and Ko Ko’s notebooks that they gave to the older children.

However, I’m not able to fully grasp what occurred between that little boy and me. The child was obviously trying to understand why this stranger liked him. That one on one eye contact lasted for fifteen seconds at the most. He won’t recall our time together, but I will never forget it.

While I was flipping the kids, I didn’t notice one of the village adults watching some old white guy from America enjoying his time with the young children. I wonder what he thought. I was a stranger from the other side of the world visiting his village. I’d like to know how many American tourists wind up at Set Set Yo. The number couldn’t be a half dozen per year. I didn’t notice him until I watch the video of me flipping the kids. What must have floated around in his head?

I have written to Moh Moh several times about the time we spent at Set Set Yo. I have loads of photos of my family scattered around my home, but the picture of that little one is the only non-family member I have in my home. Actually, it is on my desk next to Ti Ti studying. In a recent email, Moh Moh said that the child reminds her that we are all family. That child is an extension of our family.

Had it not been for the military coup in February, I would be going back to visit my family in six months. However, whenever I do return, we will have our second family tour. We were working on that itinerary even before I return from our first family tour. When I am able to get a visa again to Myanmar, I’ll tell Moh Moh and Ko Ko that it is their call where we visit as a family with only one caveat. I want to return to Set Set Yo and see that little boy again. While I don’t fully comprehend what happened in those few moments, it does parallel what happened when I first met Ti Ti, and we played Scrabble.

While I am trying to grasp my experience, it should be apparent to my readers that something happened between that little boy and me. If I were a reader of this article, I would wonder if I could have a similar experience. Well, the answer is yes. However, you will have to begin with the belief that we are all family. If you can experience a tenth of what I felt, you will consider yourself both blessed and extremely happy.