Just a quick, boring “I’m alive” post as the connection in this remote place is almost non-existent. I spent one night in Yangon, visited the Shwedagon Paya, an enormous temple atop a hill just outside the city centre. Next day I moved to Kinpun, a village at the foot of the “Golden Rock” which is actually covered in cladding for refurbishment at the moment so you can’t actually see the gold rock itself – nice one!
There seemed to be some sort of pilgrimage going on the other night, as there was music akin to that in a Chinese restaurant with a motivational speaker over the top of it coming through a really stratchy tannoy system ALL night, accompanied by another unfeasibly loud tannoy system from the truckstop next door to my guesthouse, where seemingly thousands of people were going up the mountain in the night. Thankfully last night it was blissfully silent…
Nonetheless it was a nice ride up and a long hike back down, passing by scores of homes on the way down, all of which double as their workplaces, be it a food stall, or a place that makes little wooden racks and guns and whatever. Amazing how they have to make a roundtrip of a few hours to get to the village, to get all of their supplies, including water!
Shortly I will embark on a 3 hour bus to Bago, lay over there for another 3.5 hours, then take another bus for 12 hours to Bagan up north, which really ought to be a lot of fun.
Spent the last two nights here, met some guys and had several beers the first night as my stomach finally nearly feels better. Consequently spent the next day in bed and took an evening boat trip around the island we’re on, stopping off to visit a few temples, including Wat Phanan Choeng, with a seriusly big Buddha in it. If you look closely at the pic, you’ll see a man’s head just sticking up above the Buddha’s fingers, to give you an idea of scale.
Today I’ve been out in a push bike, visiting a few more, and now relaxing on a riverside restaurant awaiting a late breakfast. After this I’m catching a train back to Bangkok, at the moment there are delays due to signalling failures it seems, so I feel just like being at home 🙂
Tonight I will hopefully be reunited with my passport, if I can remember which one of the 10,000 travel agents around Khao San Road I took it to. Tomorrow morning I fly to Yangon in Burma, where the real entertainment should begin. A German guy I met yesterday has just been and was telling me great things about it, so the general consensus so far seems to be that is _the_ place to be at the moment.
This is the famous Khao San Road
But I’m not staying here, given that I’m over 20 years old. I’m actually staying in Rambuttri, just next door but vastly more civilised. It’s been a fairly uneventful couple of days, I’ve felt a little sick just with acclimatisation issues, but they’re passing now. Seeing this farang down a back alley, exercising by jumping up and down on a tyre whilst looking at himself in a mirror really made my stomach churn..
I eventually sought out a good travel agency for sorting a visa for Myanmar, so my passport has been whisked away until Wednesday when it should come back with a shiny stamp in it, but the guy’s English was so bad I could go back there to find a pizza waiting for me for all I know, although for 1500 baht it’ll have to be damn tasty! He seemed to say that they’ll contact me before noon tomorrow if there’s a problem, but whether that’ll be an issue at the embassy or that they’ve just run out of pepperoni remains to be seen.
I’m getting quite excited about Myanmar now (that’s Burma to you and me, by the way), it’s supposed to be a throwback to ancient SE Asia and very backward. There are a load of concerns, including having to turn up with pristine condition US dollars to change on the black market to kyat, but I was just chatting to a German guy who has recently been who assured me that everything was very easy going and the country is wonderful.
In the meantime I’m going to head tomorrow to Ayutthaya about an hour north of here, an old historic centre of Thailand to get a little culture.
Early to bed for me tonight then, so I’ll sign off with a cheesy screen print of the weather. I’ll allow myself just this one indiscretion 🙂
You know you’ve arrived in Asia when you get to wipe your bum with a hosepipe…
I decided on the cheap option for transit from the airport which includes a train followed by this boat:
It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it does get you downtown for 45 baht, which is almost a quid at today’s terrible exchange rates, but it still not bad considering that the airport is over 30 Km away.
Having settled into my rather decent hotel in the middle of the action, I’ve been out for dinner and a couple of drinks, followed by the obligatory massage. So I’m pleased so say I’ve been well and truly violated on Day One.
On the more productive side, I’ve visited a few travel agents to check on options for getting a Burmese visa, and I think I will be able to make something work out, somehow.. No doubt I’ll chew over the options during a foot scrub tomorrow.
Oh, a special note for my UK friends, it’s half past midnight and currently 27C 🙂
This wee map should hopefully show roughly where I am and where I’ve been (if indeed I even have the faintest idea where I am)
Armed with not much more than this bag, sunnies and a number-2-all-over haircut I’m off to Bangkok this evening. Beyond that, nothing is really planned, apart from a return flight from Hong Kong 3 months later and I’m in possession of a Chinese visa.
The very rough plan I have is to visit Burma, then a couple of Thai islands, then onto Indonesia, Borneo, the Philippines and finally China before returning to Hong Kong. More of that to come later, for now I’m going to kick back and relax on a plane for the next 16 hours or so. Errr…..
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