Monday, November 30, 2015

Meeting @ DMH, Nay Pyi Taw (24-Nov-2015)

Hello everyone, its me Seemanta (サム).

So the day began at 5:45 am. We had to catch an early flight to Nay Pyi Taw. After almost an hour long flight we arrived at Nay Pyi Taw International airport at 8:00 am.
Early morning flight to Nay Pyi Taw
Since we had some spare time, and its on the way, we decided to have a look at the Parliament building. However, due to security reasons, we had to park our car around 0.5-1.0 km away. We clicked some pictures around there.
The road was very wide (8 lanes by 8 lanes)
You can see the Parliament building in the background
We reached DMH office at 8:45 am. We were a bit early. The meeting started at 9:30 am. It was attended by Dr. Kawasaki, Dr. Acierto, and myself from UTokyo side and by  Mrs. Ye Ye Nyein, Dr. Tin Mar Htay and two other staff from Meteorology Division of DMH. Dr. Ralph gave a very informative presentation regarding his current method and framework for the climate change analysis study on Bago River basin. Following the presentation, DHM also shared their techniques and models used for their climate change analysis, WRF modelling and forecast issuance. We also discussed about data availibility and data sharing. DHM were very willing to share their data with us. The short meeting concluded on potential close collaboration and support between the two groups.

Later, Dr. Tin Mar Htay took us around the DMH buildings and showed us their operational forecating division, data server and other data collection systems.

Dr. Tin Mar Htay explaining about the forecast division of DMH, Nay Pyi Taw
After lunch we took our flight back to Yangon at 1:30 pm. We reached our holel at around 3:00 pm. Then me and Dr. Ralph went to the famous Shwedagon pagoda. It was his first time there and he was awestruck by its beauty. He seemed to be very happy as he had his camera with him. Mr. Genki also joined us there. Dr. Ralph said he took more than 100 pics (within 30 mins). We left for hotel to have dinner with Dr. Kawasaki at the hotel restaurant.
Happy Dr. Ralph!
It was a nice trip. And, eventhough for only 4 nights, I enjoyed my stay there. Looking forward to come back again sometime soon.

Until then, good bye and take care!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Full Moon Festival

Hi. It's Genki. 

The full moon festival was held on 26th, November. From what my friends told me, this festival is the biggest festival in Myanmar and held on 26th November every year. Actually they said that the similar festival is also held in Thailand at the same day.

This is the National Holiday but the festival itself starts mainly from 4:30 pm. I asked some of my friends to take me to the festival place. I could feel that all the people were so excited.
At the streets, we could get some tickets beforehand which had a certain number on it. Then we exchanged the ticket for some goods at the designated shopd. Actually we didn’t have any tickets at the first time but my friend Bobo got tickets from his students. We got so many things that they were heavy to carry.

There were many people on the street

You can see each shop has its number

Then we went to the place where a festival sponsored by Coca-cola was being held. This festival was called Paper Lantern Festival. It was fantastic! I now understand that Myanmar people really like festivals. There were many shops and game corners. But I also thought it was similar to summer festivals, Matsuri, in Japan.

A big stage for the event

One of the game corners

Traditional Myanmar foods

After that we went to Inya Lake which was also the festival place. There were many people enjoying and some people were doing fireworks. Actually almost every square in Yangon was for the festival this night. But what I was surprised is that although many people were so excited, I didn’t see the one who was drinking alcohol. It’s mainly because of religious reason.

Inya Lake at night. There may be a limit to my iPad camera.

As above, I enjoyed the full moon festival in Yangon. I guess that as the economy grows the scale of the festival will become larger in the future.

That's all for this report. Thank you for reading. See you soon.

Friday, November 27, 2015

SATREPS workshop @ YTU (23-11-2015)

Hey, its me Seemanta (サム). I'm writing again after a long gap of almost 3 months.

The day started with breakfast at hotel restaurant at 8:00 am.
It was the most important day for us (of the entire trip/visit) this time, as we had a workhop titled "Water-related disaster management in the Bago River Basin". We left for YTU at 8:30.
The workshop started at 9:45 am with the opening remarks by Dr. Akiyuki Kawasaki.

Opening remarks by Dr. Akiyuki Kawasaki
There were eight 15 mins presentations. The first presenter was Dr. Aung Than Oo, from Irrigation Dept (ID). He talked about the flood hazard of the Bago city. The second presenter was our very own Dr. Ralph who accessed the future climate change over the Bago basin. The next two presentations were by Miss Shelly (Ph.D. Candidate, YTU) and Dr. Shimozono (UTokyo). Miss Shelly talked about her work on flood inundation mapping in the Bago basin. Dr. Shimozono explained the tidal influences on floods in Bago basin.

Dr. Aung Than Oo giving presentation
Dr. Ralph talking about future climate change over Bago river basin
We had a tea-break at around 11:00 am.

We took this oppurtunity to take a group picture!
The break was followed by the presentation by Mr. U Aung Myo Khaing from Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR). He talked about the activities of DWIR in the Bago river. Next, I gave a presentation about by my research on integrated hydrological modelling in the upper Bago basin. After that Mr. Ochii from Japan Water Agency (JMA) talked about the integrated operation of dams for flood control in Japan.
The last presentation was by Dr. Komori from Tohoku University. He shared his expereiences from another SATREPS project in Thailand (IMPAC-T) for which he was the coordinator.

Dr. Komori from Tohoku University
Following the presentations, we had a joint discussion on "how to implement SATREPS R&D in Bago River basin".
The main discussion points were on the equipment installation, more investigation of water flow, and improvement of current model used.  For the equipment installation issues, discussion on the support from irrigation department were facilitated. Factors to consider such as energy source, mobile signal, and access to potential observation site were reiterated. Also, negotiation on the cited potential sites for AWS and telemetry installation were discussed.

Group discussion between the Myanmar and Japan sides
Guest comments were provided by U Tint Zaw, Deputy Director General, ID and Prof. Koike Toshio, Department of Civil Engineering, UTokyo and Director, ICHARM (International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management). They shared their vast experiences and expertises on river improvement & watershed management, dam operation and sedimentation control.

The workshop concluded by the closing remarks from Dr. Win Win Zin, YTU.

A small token of appreciation from YTU side to Prof. Koike
A total of 54 participants attended this workshop which includes  9 participants from Japan, 34 from YTU and 11 Myanmar Project Stakeholders (ID, DWIR, YTU, DMH, and others).

Complete program of the workshop
Following the workshop Prof. Koike gave a lecture to the YTU students. The title of the lecture was “SATREPS Seminar: Disaster Risk Reduction(DRR), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Climate Change(CC)”. He talked about the water cycle, climate change, disaster risk reduction, sustainable development goals, and resilience.

Prof. Koike giving lecture to YTU students
For dinner we went to the famous "Golden Duck" restaurant. The food was great, as usual.

Perfect way to end a successful workshop!
We had a very fruitful discussion and positive feedback from Myanmar side. Everyone seemed to be satisfied by the current progress of the project (it being only in its first year). We believe this workshop was a success!

Thats all for now. See you next time!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Myanmar stay for student exchange program day4-7

Hi, this is Genki.
The story continues from the last one and this is from the evening of the forth day. 

The forth day, 19th Nov.
Do you know there is a big lake in Yangon? Its name is Inya Lake. Actually it's one of the best places in Yangon to run, exercise and chat. I heard the best timing is the morning or evening. One of my friend Banyar Oo took me to the lake in the evening.

After that, we went to Suwai Thin's house. We walked and walked and walked... During the way, Banyar Oo told me there are many people from different religion living in Yangon. That's why there are not only pagodas but also church and mosques in Yangon. 
A high school but also a church

OK back to what I was talking, Suwai Thin is one of the YTU students and my friend. As we arrived their house, her mother served us some juice and fruit. I was surprised at the fact that her uncle is a rector of one of the Universities in Yangon!
We took pictures at Suwai's house
After that we went to the downtown area for dinner. Actually we walked through the Yangon University during the way, and I found that its area is really large. There are more than 10 tennis court in the University. 

I also found a big supermarket which was actually built this year! It was completely different from the other buildings. The inside of the supermarket is as follows. You can see that Myanmar is now experiencing a big modernization.

The fifth day, 20th Nov.
This day, I asked one of my friends to take me to the rural areas around Yangon. Then he managed the trip and we went to the east side of Yangon by Phyu's car, who is one of the teachers of YTU and lives in the sub-urban area of Yangon city. She served us breakfast and lunch and it was delicious. During the drive, I could see many farm land and villages and from what she taught me, they live in a low income condition. Not only driving the rural area but we went also to some pagodas. We saw the river side which is located near one of the pagodas and as you can see, some people live in the other side of the river. 

We had breakfast and lunch together

The road condition is not so good

After coming back to the Guest House, I went to a gym with my friend Bobo and William. I had to register but it was only 15000 Kyats per month. In general people in Myanmar are thin but guys who were building up in the gym were all muscular. I was the only foreigner there so it may be better to go to the gym with my friends. Anyway, it was a good place to exercise and I want to keep coming here during my stay.

The bad news here was that I got a cold :(

The sixth day, 21th Nov.
I and Bobo took two people from Tohoku University around the Yangon area. One of them is  Associate professor Dr. Komori and the other is his student, whose name is Ms. Sato.
After meeting at the hotel they stay, we went to Shwedagon Pagoda, which is the largest pagoda in Yangon and also in the world. It was literally fantastic. Actually this was my second time to come here but yet I was overwhelmed by this big pagoda. I really recommend you to come here at least once in your lifetime. 

Then we went to the central Yangon area , which Bobo and I went 3 days ago.
After having lunch in a Myanmar restaurant, we took a private boat and went up the Yangon river toward the upstream for an hour. There were big ports along the city side but as for the other side, we could only see the small old houses. I think poor people are living there and that's why they need water for their lives. Rich people can easily have an access to the water because of the good infrastructure, but poor people can't. So I think one the reasons poor people tend to live near the river is not only that they cannot live elsewhere because of the lack of land to live but also such kind of reason.

The seventh day, 22nd Nov.
Japanese research group and YTU research group went to Bago region for a field survey and I followed them. At first we went to Zaung Tu Weir. Actually I've come here in June but the water level was completely different as this is the dry season and it was the beginning rainy season the other day. 

After going to the weir, we went to the dam which is located in the west side of Bago city area. In 2011, a flood occurred in the tributary which flows from the dam. 
After having lunch, we went to one of the damaged areas by flood where many poor people live. 

Then we went to Tawa because here they have a sluice gate at the end of the canal which connects Bago river and Sittaung river. We went to the Bago river side. This canal is mainly for irrigation but it works as a weir in the case of flood. Sedimentation is a problem here and they are dredging the canal continuously.

During the bus move, I could see the features of Bago city area a little. I want to do a more detailed survey here taking advantage of this survey.
See you soon!