A day at the pool

Zin Mar Myint from Myanmar

CHICO is the place you should not miss when you go to Yellowstone National Park. They have great scenery, horse riding, dog sledding and HOT SPRINGS POOL. Thanks to Barbara from Clark Forte Coalition and Bonnie from Community Food & Agriculture Coalition, the YSEALI group went on a road trip to Yellowstone. It was super fun by the way. We listened to music, shared funny stories and experiences, and enjoyed scenic drives. Anyway, we visited CHICO on last Sunday.

When we were arrived, there was a long line at the front desk. People from Montana really like the hotel especially HOT SPRINGS. I and my roommate, Kaewta stayed at the upper lodge which has amazing view. We were all excited for the pool. As soon as we got rooms and we decided to go there. It was chilly though.

I did not bring any swim suit to the United States. I didn’t think I would need it in Montana. I don’t have one too. I do not usually go to swimming pool in my country not because I do not like swimming just because I am too shy to wear a swim suit. If I go there, I would wear many layers of clothes including swim suit. That’s what most girls I know do in Yangon try not to be revealing their bodies in public. Wearing bikinis and revealing your body is kind of a celebrity thing in Myanmar. That is also why I decided to wear a tank top and a legging. You can imagine how I look weird among people with bikinis.

Jumping from 5°C (41°F) temperature of freezing weather into 35°C (96°F) temperature of hot water was awesome. I did not even want to get out from the pool. The pool was crowded so I figured most people felt the same. I like staying in the hot water and floating. Finally it was getting near dinner time. It’s time to get out from the pool. From the moment my body was enjoying warmth and then it encountered with cold wind suddenly. That was not good. My hands started shaking. I grabbed my towel, my clothes, my glasses and ran towards the changing room as fast as I can. The moment I entered into the changing room, I was shocked completely. (Not because of hypothermia!!!)

I saw some ‘Naked Women’ there. Immediately, I kept my eyes away from them. I was very embarrassed seeing them changing. My mind went blank. I just stood there for like two minutes before I realized what to do. Then, I ran into the nearest shower stall and tried to catch my breath. It did not take long for me to realize that I was experiencing exactly what they call ‘Cultural Shock’. After a while I felt better. When I got out from shower, I saw some other women changing and naked. That time, I was totally fine but not ready for me to be naked like them. Not yet.

People here are lucky to grow up in a culture where you can learn to be confident with your body and to be yourself.

I wonder how an American woman would feel when she sees fully clothed women in a pool of Yangon. This is what one of the most precious Myanmar cultures, too.

Footnote:

Today’s blog is very special for me. This is my turn to post the blog for the third time and for the last time. I was struggling for ideas. My host family, Jon (who told me about some crazy stuff ‘Cryptozoology’) insisted me to write about it when I shared my cultural shock experiences in Yellowstone.
Thanks a lot, Jon! It was fun.

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