Portia Larlee

Articles by Author

A Myanmar literary journal in Mae Sot struggles to survive
Tuesday, 10 March 2015

It was difficult to arrange a meeting with Ma Thu Ta Sen, the manager of Young Generations’ Note, a literary journal based in the Thai border town of Mae Sot. Ma Thu Ta Sen works full-time in a restaurant and spends her evenings teaching Myanmar. We met on a busy street corner during a 30-minute break from her waiting job before she led me to the journal’s office.

The labour movement and the law in progress
Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Ma Thazin Soe has worked in a garment factory in Yangon's northern Mayangone Township for three years. She rises at dawn to make a bus journey from her home in neighbouring Hlaingtharyar Township, on Yangon’s western outskirts, and returns after dark. Ma Thazin Soe said she is “barely able to make ends meet” on her basic monthly salary of K30,000.

Union members striking.
The labour movement and the law in progress
Thursday, 26 February 2015

Ma Thazin Soe has worked in a garment factory in Yangon's northern Mayangone Township for three years. She rises at dawn to make a bus journey from her home in neighbouring Hlaingtharyar Township, on Yangon’s western outskirts, and returns after dark. 

An AAPP staff member briefs a tourist on Myanmar's political history. Photo: Portia Larlee
Monday, 23 February 2015

The Friendship Bridge that connects Myawaddy to Mae Sot is a sight for sore eyes after a 15-hour bus ride from Yangon to the booming Thai border town. If you travel direct from Yangon you will likely arrive at the border by late morning and will need to shed the sweater, hat, mittens and socks that kept you warm in the over-chilled air-conditioning on the bus. But don’t worry, the protracted immigration process allows plenty of time to wake up, readjust your luggage and prepare for the short walk across the Moei River to Thailand.

Karen News journal pushes boundaries as it expands
Monday, 23 February 2015

Nan Paw Gay did not become a migrant worker out of necessity. She chose to work as a nursery school teacher and then as a live-in cleaner in Bangkok after graduating from Mawlamyine University in 1995 because she wanted to understand the experience of millions of Myanmar people who went abroad to seek a livelihood. She was a journalist then, without realising.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Breath is not bated at the U Hla Tun Cancer Hospice in a Yangon’s rural East Dagon Township and time, for its 50 patients, appears neither a burden nor a blessing. visitors may emerge from the hospice compound feeling oddly at peace with their own mortality – but unquestionably grateful for more time.

Weekend Escape
Friday, 20 February 2015

The search for a perfect weekend getaway may be over for those prepared to endure two overnight buses and a sleep-deprived Monday at the office. Mawlamyine, the Mon State capital and a former colonial capital and bustling port, boasts many attractions, including weathered Victorian architecture, hilltops crowned with pagodas and a waterfront worth exploring on foot. It’s a great place to unwind and to discover.

Friday, 20 February 2015

The thousands of Myanmar migrants working at factories and farms in and around the Thai border town of Mae Soe rely on one media source: community radio. It is a medium that transcends factory walls, immobility due to precarious immigration status – and illiteracy.

A déjà vu encounter with tattoo artist Ma Phyu Thazin Soe
Thursday, 19 February 2015

After pacing the block in search of the tattoo studio we climbed the dusty steps of a nondescript downtown apartment building. Aside from operating unofficially in a residential building, the studio looked exactly like those I had visited abroad, save for the Buddhist altar tucked in a corner above stacks of binders teeming with photos of fresh tattoos.

Inside the factory walls: Myanmar radio reaches migrants in Thailand
Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The thousands of Myanmar migrants working at factories and farms in and around the Thai border town of Mae Soe rely on one media source: community radio. It is a medium that transcends factory walls, immobility due to precarious immigration status – and illiteracy.