About

Fifty Viss?cropped-logo-updated3.png

The name “Fifty Viss” or Peiktha Ngaze (ပိဿာ ငါးဆယ်) literally means “50 viss.” Viss is the English name of a traditional Burmese weight measurement known as peiktha (ပိဿာ), equivalent to approximately 3.6 pounds.

Author

My name is Aung Htin Kyaw. I am a Sunday-born son born and raised in the Los Angeles area. I recently graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a major in Biology and a minor in Southeast Asian studies, resulting from a deep and lifelong interest in and passion for Burma.

I also keep a Tumblr (@fiftyviss) to share short form videos, articles and other snippets I come across.

Background

On the one hand, there’s a flourishing Burmese language blogging community that has arisen in the past few years. On the other, there’s a shortage of English language blogs dedicated to Burma and Burmese affairs. I generally write about Burma, with a focus on politics, society, culture and current affairs and share my personal thoughts. I also draw from my own experiences and the forces that have shaped my personal identity. I don’t seek to represent the voice of the Burmese people, but I hope to get conversations started and explore an array of ideas and opinions along the way.

Note: All of the Burmese text on my blog can be rendered in Unicode-compliant fonts such as Padauk, Myanmar TextMyanmar3 and Parabaik. Non-standard fonts like Zawgyi will not render the Burmese text correctly.

38 thoughts on “About

    • Philip says:

      Very nice blog, but looks like you don’t maintain it anymore.
      I am going to Burma for the first time in Dec 2011. I’m going with a Burmese friend who left Burma at age 7 so his Burmese is not so good. I don’t speak any and am white. Want to go spend a week in Burma, a week in Thailand, and a week in Vietnam. Any idea of a good travel agent in the LA area who would know about Burma. I think it’s not too popular of a destination and want to find someone who knows about it. I saw you are from LA too and I thought you might know someone.
      Thanks! Philip

  1. mayvelous says:

    Hello there,

    You have a great blog with excellent writing, well conversed and the photos are just great. It’s good to read another mm blogger from opposite end of the world. Keep up the good work and I’m rolling you.

    G’day.

  2. Aung Kyaw says:

    Rajshekhar: Thank you, and good luck on your new endeavour, Burma Review. The writing is superb.

    Mayvelous: Thanks. Your blog is very interesting. I enjoy reading your entries, from the viewpoint of a Burmese in Fiji!

  3. Nachiappan says:

    It is indeed a great work. I like it.I love Burma most because my very very loving great granny was from Daria of Burma. I want to trace my roots in Burma but it seems to be mirage but not a day goes without the thought of burma. Will some one help?
    nachiappan

  4. Aung Kyaw says:

    Thai TV: Thanks. Your website’s interesting as well; too bad I don’t know Thai.

    [him] moderator: What an amazing outlet of HIV information for Burma, a rarity. I’m blogrolling it. Amazing photos and drawings as well.

    Nachiappan: Thank you. I’m not sure how to trace your ancestry in Burma, but I think it’s a good idea to find the birthplace (and place of death) of your grandmother, and if you have names/contacts of people who may help, it makes the search easier. Best of luck!

  5. Doddy says:

    Ohh……..U are 18 years old now, Aung Htin Kyaw???
    I am proud of U !!!
    How do u get Photos though u r not staying in myanmar??? U recently visit to Myanmar ???
    Do u love Myanmar though u born in Southern Californian ?
    Glad to know U!

  6. Min Min says:

    Well. This is absolutely cool website created by another American-burmese born in another part of the world. I have my blog too, just to express what i have and to gain knowledge from others. It is written in Burmese, I am not sure whether you can read all. I was born in Burma, but raise up in other countries, so i am also eager to find out more about burma cultures cause I am happy that i am Burmese, the rice bowl of Asia.

  7. dd says:

    I know how you’re feeling. Don’t feel bad about everything. The world is made the way it’s supposed to be made. I’ll have to say every single burmese you talk to share your sentiments, not in a complacent way but rather a helpless way.

    In Buddha’s teachings, everything happens for a reason. Every action results in consequences. We’ll just have to see. If peaceful change is not allowed, a more violent one will likely to follow. When an oppressor doesn’t take a chance for a peaceful change, he’ll likely to face violence. We all should hope this is not the way for Burmese people since a lot of lives can be lost.

    What I’m trying to say is that just because some people and some countries are complacent about situations in burma, you shouldn’t quit blogging. You have a gift that can make a difference. Your writings really spread the awareness of burma. You don’t have to write all about politics. You can talk about humanitarian situations or things that people are not aware of. That of course should happen when you have time from classes.

  8. dd says:

    Don’t think so much about situations in burma and spend so much time on thinking what to write on this blog. Focus more on your studies and become successful. Someone like you who cares so much about others needs to be successful, so the world can be a better place.

  9. myo min says:

    Hi! Aung Htin Kyaw
    I’m burmese. I think we all have the duty to let the world know about Burma. I’m impressed with your efforts on this blog and your writing. I was happened to visited your blog searching comments on the book ” The river of lost footsteps”. Thank you also for your comment on the book, really appreciate it. Keep up the good work

  10. myo min says:

    Hi! Aung Htin Kyaw
    I’m burmese. I think we all have the duty to let the world know about Burma. I’m impressed with your efforts on this blog and your writing. I happened to visit your blog searching comments on the book ” The river of lost footsteps”. Thank you also for your comment on the book, really appreciate it. Keep up the good work

  11. Ian says:

    Is 50 Viss a reference to the hammer in the right hand of Nat strongman smith Nga Tin-de (Mr Handsome) whose name and power struggle with the king would seem to resemble your own? If so, we still don’t know what your left hand’s up to.

  12. Geeta says:

    Dear Aung Htin Kyaw,
    I came across your blog when I was surfing for pictures of colonial Rangoon. I’m in the process of writing a book, part of which is based in Rangoon and Burma of 1935-42. My Dad walked ‘The Trek’ thru the jungles to get to Calcutta after the Japs bombed Rangoon, and I didn’t want the stories I heard him tell to go to waste.
    So, your pictures were a great help. I also plan to visit Rangoon to get a feel of the place. But from what I’ve read, it was a totally different world then. Atleast seeing your pictures will be a pointer for my descriptions.
    I’m trying to put together the possible route he must have taken to reach the mouth of Hawkawng Valley from Rangoon. Any ideas?
    Great job!

    • Aung Zeya says:

      Geeta,

      Hukwang valley is in Kachin State. Your dad must have trekked via Mandalay and Myitkyina.

      The most widely used route of retreat was Mandalay-Monywa-Kalay into Manipur.

      • Geeta says:

        thank you, Aung Zeya. I am also collecting authentic Burmese names to put to some of my characters in the book. Do you mind if I use yours?

      • Aung Zeya says:

        Of course not. It’s the birth name of King Alaungpaya who founded the last Burmese dynasty. I’ve just usurped it.

        Another factoid you might find useful for your book: Hukwang valley was used by the Burmese as the base from which to invade Assam in the early 19th century, right before our first war with the British. Your dad probably trekked the same route (over the 10,000 foot high mountains) that Burmese soldiers used to cross into Assam.

        Cheers,

  13. frolurlTriers says:

    He put his eye to the hole. He just managed to spy some people sitting in deckchairs chanting, before a finger came out of nowhere and poked him in the eye. As he staggered back, the people started chanting, “Fourteen, fourteen, fourteen…”

  14. 輝夜姬 says:

    Hi!
    I’m Korean, living in Seoul.
    I’m learning Myanmar language by myself and for myself. I thought that I could find Myanmar-language materials for my self-study. I just spend much time in vain not studying this language but finding materials for the study. I’ve found just one site which offers words with their scripts and sounds. But, it’s not trustworthy; maybe because of distrust from my ignorance?
    So, I changed my mind to find Myanmareses. I mailed to many Myanmareses also in vain. No answer.
    Could anyone be my guide to Myanmar language? My email is queenmillennia at gmail.com. MSN is the same, and Yahoo messenger is queenmillennia 999 at yahoo.com. Feel free to contact me.

    You see much similarity between Korean and Burmese here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subject_Object_Verb#Korean

  15. Geeta says:

    Thank you, Aung. May I ask you- what are common Burmese endearments that one would use for their child, and also for a friend? I am based in Dubai, and don’t have access to Burmese, which is why I find it so interesting to follow this page of yours.🙂
    Geeta

  16. Megan says:

    Hi,

    I stumbled across your website while doing research for my Undergraduate Research Grant. To state it simply, I am studying many languages and seeing if a child’s native language affects the ease and rate of English acquisition. For example, do children coming from an Arabic speaking background acquire English faster that children coming from a Vietnamese speaking background.

    I was wondering if you had any insight of what specific consonants in Burmese are used in the ends of words. I found this information for the other two languages in my study (Arabic & Vietnamese) but could not find out any of this info about Burmese.

    Your help and advice is much appreciated. Unfortunately, I am presenting my findings at the state convention this week! So if you have any quick advice, it would really save me!

    Thank you so much!

  17. Tripura Mog says:

    Dear Aun Zeya,
    I chanced upon your blog while searching the term “Mranma”. Well I belong to a small community called “Mog/Magh” in Tripura state of India. It was nice to see comments on the Marma of Bangladesh vis-a-vis Rakhine. My area of interest to know is the similarities amongst the Mog of Tripura, the Marma and Rakhine of Bangladesh. Racially are not they same? There is a story of Rakhine/Bama General leaving his state when the Queen accused him for killing the King in an expedition to recover the skull of the King’s previous birth. When the General reached Tripura, he changed the language of his followers so as to forget their past. In another historical account, King Alaungsithu came to the kingdom of his father in Bengal which is close to Tripura. The Mogs of Tripura follows similar tradition of Rakhine/Bamar and read similar script, perhaps the Rakhine language is better understood by them. What do you comment on this group of people?

    Thai U

  18. M.C. says:

    I’m interested in your thoughts on “why now?” for the start of the liberalization process. Military held on even after the Nargis debacle… perhaps trying to reduce reliance on China perhaps? I’m just trying to wrap my head around why now? Would like to continue a dialogue offline…

  19. Sean says:

    Hello! I live in San Francisco, studies Burmese on my own for a few months, and traveled to Burma last summer. Nothing terribly out of the tourist path, but I did freak out a guide when I asked about 969. I sporadically post to my own Burma focused blog and am looking to expand my network of other folks interested in and knowledgable about Burma. I hope to hear from you. -Sean

  20. Mira says:

    Thank you so much for writing a blog about Burmese affairs! As a young Burmese American youth, you know how difficult it is to find things that talk about Burmese affair. So I thank you for creating this blog! It has certainly enlighten me.🙂

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