As we’re counting the days towards the stakeholder forum on Thursday, we are still in the middle of our data collection. Although this part of the research is coming to an end, we have realized that there will not be a clear ‘finish line’ in this phase. The research process is a never-ending cycle; every time we think we have reached the ‘end’ of a particular concept or issue new insights are generated. Data collection can also be surprisingly fun sometimes, as we discovered the past few days in Pindaya. Pindaya is a town north of Kalaw, situated around a lake. The downside of this locality is that you always have to walk around the lake to reach another place in the town. Since it is still around 40 degrees and the lake attracts many, many musquitos, this was not always enjoyable.

One of the stakeholders we invited for the stakeholder forum is the Plan Bee project in Pindaya. This is a wonderful organization who set up a bee keeping project throughout the Southern Shan State, supported by LIFT (Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund). They provide beekeeping training to new beekeepers and professionals, and established community based enterprises throughout the state. These are just two of the many things Plan Bee has accomplished so far. Community involvement is one of the core principles they focus on, which is a very important concept in our research too. The visitor center of this project is an interesting activity for day tours to Pindaya. The center provides equipment for both locals and tourists to discover beekeeping. We had an amazing honey tasting to discover the production of the various honeys and honey spreads. The partners of Plan Bee are invited to our stakeholder forum too so it promises to be a very interesting day!

Tofu_Making_PindayaCigars_PindayaIn addition to Plan Bee there are other interesting activities in Pindaya that are not visited by tourists yet. For example there’s tofu production & tasting, and traditional cigar manufacturing.

In the meanwhile, Anne and Judith took part in a trekking tour as part of the practical research in Pindaya. We went with a local guide who walked all the way on flipflops. The combination of the heat, the steepness, the fast-walking-guide and language barrier made it a difficult tour to complete. During the tour, we saw many tea plantations, pagodas and friendly people. Lunch included the two of us sitting in someone’s living room on top of a mountain. So, even though it was not always easy, we are happy we participated. It provided us with interesting insights for our research.

So far, we are satisfied with the collected data and the preliminary findings in Pindaya. This afternoon a traditional local pick-up truck took us back to Kalaw where we are collecting more data and preparing the upcoming stakeholder meeting, which also serves as a great opportunity to collect more data.

Authors: Anne, Judith, Mila, Robin, Sabine