30.04.2011 Mothballs

They are fond of air-fresheners here; my idea of hell. In fact I think synthetic air-fresheners are the Work of the Devil. I hate them. But being tropical it’s a fairly smelly place and I guess air-fresheners are the easy way out.

Unfortunately, they seem to think that mothballs are a legitimate form of air-freshener. So there is a pervading smell of naphthalene all over Yangon. Taxi drivers will hang a pierced bag of mothballs from what remains of their dashboard, yuck. Some shops will use it to such an extent that you have to walk out as soon as you walk in. A backpacker told me a hotel room she had booked smelled so strongly of it she walked out and found another hotel. Not only was the smell unbearable, she wondered what on earth they were trying to cover up in the first place. And of course they are used for clothes as well. That people wear. Without washing them first. Yeuch! I once had a massage in a place that lent me some loose Thai type clothing, which smelled of mothballs. Oh my days, even if the massage had been spectacular (which it was far from) I could not have relaxed with that smell up my nostrils. And every so often you might waft past a well-dressed Myanmar lady wearing perfume with a distinct aftertaste of… you guessed it, mothballs!

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