What is your expat star sign?

Welcome, my young expatriate. Madame Mohinga has been expecting you, for I sense that you have been feeling lost and listless this rainy season [cackles]. Don’t be shy. Put down your gin and tonic, and let us seek the wisdom of the stars…


Monday: The Backpacker

Lucky omens: 19th Street mojitos, night buses

People who arrive under the Backpacker sign are curious and thrifty with a strong affinity for sand paintings. You may find yourself wandering around Kandawgyi Lake or Golden Valley in hand woven fisherman pants, a grubby tank top and the aroma of the road (which smells an awful lot like durian). Don’t let trials in the form of lice and bedbugs deter you from that K7,000 hostel bunk.

Tuesday: The NGO Worker

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

Lucky omens: Yaw Min Gyi street, eggs from Sharky’s

In expat mythology, NGO Workers are philanthropic creatures who drive expensive SUVs with little shovels attached to the spare tyre. If you are feeling low, NGO Worker, cheer up by complaining about “development sector bullshit” to anyone who will listen. The stars show exciting new opportunities ahead with the words “senior”, “coordinator”, “director”, “regional” and “programme” in the titles.

Wednesday: The Teacher

Lucky omens: Frisbee, not knowing who the president of Myanmar is

Optimistic and naïve, teachers tend to live in the far reaches of town and mainly spend time with other teachers, although they occasionally venture out in groups to comedy nights and beer tastings. If you have been feeling out of place in the expat scene, Teacher, don’t worry: those stares from the next table are the rest of us wondering where the hell a bunch of attractive, happy-looking expats came from all of a sudden.

Thursday: The Journo

Lucky omens: MacBook Pro, looking up bulletproof vests on Amazon

Expats who arrive under the sign of The Journo are adventurous sorts who care deeply about the truth, especially if it means they might get to be arrested and deported some day. Unfortunately, there are more peaceful times ahead for you (if not for native journalists), but take heart: if people back home see those photos you posted from that organic coffee farm and just happen to assume you’re getting shot at in a landmine-laced jungle, who are you to correct them?

Friday: The Aperol Spritz

Lucky omens: Penthouse, trivia nights

Aperol Spritzes are true creatures of the night who are not going to let being far from home keep them from clubbing like an Arctic hunter in a field of baby seals. They get white girl wasted every weekend and also use phrases like “white girl wasted”. Rainy season has been especially difficult for Aperol Spritzes, but be strong: Oktoberfest is right around the corner.

Saturday: The Newcomer

Lucky omens: Sanchaung, local curry

Those who arrive under the sign of The Newcomer tend to wear a longyi, take language lessons and genuinely believe they will spend evenings at local tea shops practising their Burmese. It will be a tough week for you, Newcomer, as you find yourself taking taxis to work even though you’ve been bragging about learning the local bus system.

Sunday: The Crone

Lucky omens: Not giving a toss

Wisdom and experience are hallmarks of Crones. They have drunk vodka with warlords, remember when there was no traffic in Yangon and once paid US$900 for a SIM card. This week, exercise your patience as you listen to younger expats ramble about “the problem with Myanmar” and “all the NLD needs to do”.

Actually written by Jared Downing.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Support our independent journalism and get exclusive behind-the-scenes content and analysis

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters.

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar