Phyoe Mg’s world becomes a bit smaller thanks to technology
Phyoe Mg (19) hoped to attend university after high school, but just missed the required level on the entrance exam, causing a rift with his father. So, he moved a few hours away to the popular tourist destination of Nyaung U, hoping to get a higher paying job than would be possible at home in Monywa.
His job at a guesthouse frequented by locals and foreigners pays $50 a month, including meals and a place to sleep, in exchange for working everyday. His plan was to save up enough money to study for a degree in school, and to be able to afford a wedding, so he could ask his girlfriend back home to be his wife.
The few hours by bus between Nyaung U and Monywa would have been a great distance between this young couple several years ago. Landline phones are rare, and mobile phones were reserved for only the rich, meaning that communication was expensive and limited only to his occasional visits home.
In late 2014, international telecommunication companies launched mobile phone services in the country to compete with the government-owned operator MPT. This brought down the cost of a SIM card, which only a few years earlier had been $500, to $1.50 and a level that much of the population could afford. Now, Phyoe Mg spends his downtime chatting with his girlfriend online using a phone he bought for $120, with monthly service costs of about $10.
He eventually found out that his girlfriend is pregnant. He suspects she hadn't been taking the birth control pill because she wanted to get married sooner. The wedding in a few months’ time will cost $600 USD, and he’s decided to move back home to Monywa. Once there, he plans on learning to be a motorcycle mechanic and has resigned himself to the fact that he won't be going back to school.