Thailand and Myanmar-Hot Hot Hot!

Reply

May 13th, 2015, 04:33 AM
  #21
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
So this morning was fun, although it didn't begin that way. Nee, my Muslim travel agent right down the street from Kamala Beach Residence had prior to my Chiang Mai trip sold me an airport transfer (her brother to drive me) for today, pick up at 5:15 am. I went to bed very early, woke up at an appalling 3 am. Dressed, packed, cleaned. Hauled my gear downstairs and waited, at 5 am. For some reason I just didn't have a good feeling about it.

5:15 rolls by and no brother.

Morning prayers were a while ago and there are many Muslims whizzing by on motorcycles. No brother.

By 5:25 I'm concerned, because I need an hour to check in, that means arrive at 6 am, and my 15 minute bumper is almost gone. I try my phone. Dead. I walk up the street, there's a small Muslim shop open. A man buying coffee. He offers to help but has no phone. The shop keeper points to hers, I call the main line. Rings until it stops. Try the cell. Answering machine. Try the main line, they've taken it off the hook. Well they live over the office, that's about thirty yards up the street, I'm out of options, time to storm the castle. The Muslim man follows me on his motorcycle.

He yells out (turns out the father is his uncle) while I'm banging away on the glass door. We do this twice. A few seconds later all the windows in the neighborhood are open, including the ones over my head. Nee looks down. I wave the airport transfer at her. 5:15 am pickup? Your brother? Must leave NOW, sorry, please? She says okay okay, the windows close. I thank the man, we nod, and he goes, smiling.

I make my way back to my hotel. Quiet. I wait. After a while I think I see headlights. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. Like a car is attempting to start.

Suddently headlights hit me and an aging Beemer hurtles in my direction. The brother, bedraggled, barefoot and embarrassed, jumps out and we hurl my backpacks over the bumper. We have 18 minutes.

I sit in the back and seek my Zen. Brother turns to me and yells "Nee forget to tell me I take you to airport today!!" I start to giggle. You cannot be mad. You just cannot be mad. This poor guy hasn't had time to pee or put on his shoes and we're rocketing along these little roads threatening to take out anything going less than 100 mph. For this I woke up an entire neighborhood. This is funny.

The creaking Beemer, true to its nature, somehow makes up the extra 12 minutes and we go careening into the airport with seconds to spare. Brother and I make formal goodbyes, we grin at each other. Nee is going to get an earful from the whole neighborhood, much less her own family.

Family businesses.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 13th, 2015, 06:17 AM
  #22
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
What a delightful read!!! Your adventures sound awesome crazy funny. My husband and I always say that travel is an adventure. Thanks for sharing yours in such a fabulous style.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 13th, 2015, 10:30 PM
  #23
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Simpsonc you are most welcome. This morning was far more tame, as I awoke at the steaming hot Bangkok airport, albeit inside a room so cold that the fruit plate from last night took a good crack on the bottom to loosen up the fruit to eat like popsicles. Hahahaha. Not really but you get my drift. The AC is either off, or AFC which is in family friendly language Absolutely Freezing Cold.

Not where I am now, ensconced in the waiting area of Agga Guest House in downtown Yangon, where a few of us are waiting to be allowed in the house. Kathie who commented earlier on the heat here in May, well, lemme say this.

You're right.

Feels good, doesn't it? I'm buying an umbrella like the locals. It's just too damned hot. All the women walking by have one, I'd be a fool not to. Lots of very young backpackers here. Hmm. I have a week here at the end of my stay and that is currently being reconsidered. Funny how the pic and the real thing don't always jive.

I'm writing a book called The Spaces In Between, which is about what happens when plans fall through. Today was a perfect example. Agga has a guy at the airport, I"m in line for ages getting my paperwork stamped, money changed. I can't see anyone with a sign for the place and with my name on it. Hop into a cab with a kid who speaks really good English. I'm paying eight bucks for this ride, and along the way, I ask about the city and what he charges. I like this kid, his language skills, and his price. And his willingness to start at 7 am before the heat begins to crack the pavement. So we've set it all up, he's going to be there early, he has an air conditioned cab, and I'm happy.

So while I missed my free ride, I paid a pittance and saved a load of time by finding the right guy to take me on a tour tomorrow, which is exactly what you might do when people don't show up, can't be found, plans flop or whatever life hands you a pickle. I even have my ride to the airport to get to Bagan set for early the day after tomorrow. Totally perfect. You're not always handed such nifty alternatives and anyone who's lost two tires in the middle of the African outback can attest (my hand is up here) but even still, we somehow find a way out. Uh, mostly.

Now time to find a longyi, brave the heat and bring back some fruit. It feels a bit like being inside an old fashioned steam cooker with no release valve at the top. I feel like my innards are cooking when I go outside.....wow.

Anyone familiar with those mist sprayers installed outside the hotels in Vegas, and also here there where affordable in the world's hot spots (saw a few in Chiang Mai)? I need one installed on my eyebrows.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 14th, 2015, 05:21 PM
  #24
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Yangon is under a blanket of wet heat, which is fine if you're inside with some a/c, but my room also has been treated with some powerful chemicals for mossies which argues a tradeoff. I'd rather have netting, as the chemicals are costing me one heck of a headache. Especially after the young man came in here yesterday and sprayed the place liberally with yet more chemicals (aerosol air freshener which I ended up doing my best to clear out by snapping a towel and opening the door to my room, losing all the ac and letting in the mossies anyway.

Honestly, you have to laugh. It just stinks in here. But it is cool, which is lovely. It's just before 7 am when my yound driver picks me up and we hit the highlights, and I am going to prowl a few obvious sites and some of Kathie's suggestions from another thread. Then it's off to the hinterlands, and I am looking forward to seeing this country. I am unloading my big backpack here for storage and taking my small one, which considerably lightens my load and makes life much easier. Besides, the airlines have limits, and much of what I have is for sports I'm not doing on this trip.

Fruit was expensive on the street last night. So it will be interesting to see what I find out and about today.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 15th, 2015, 02:47 PM
  #25
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 303
Love it JH!
Just catching up on the horse stories, so sorry your paddock boots died! But love that you got to spend so much quality time with the ponies

I head to Yangon in 6 days, I realize it will be HOT HOT HOT, but it was now or never.

Let me know of any horse activities you come across in the country- I have a couple days in Yangon/Bagan/Mandalay where I've got some un-planned time!

Are you on anti-malarials? I always take Melfoquine, but read that the malaria is resistant to it in parts of Burma, so am hoping to get away with not taking any!
needmorevacation is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 15th, 2015, 05:42 PM
  #26
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Your writing style makes for an interesting read. I'm glad you are writing a book! Hope it gets published. Good luck, and please keep your report coming. I hope your day tour works out well.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 15th, 2015, 06:36 PM
  #27
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,329
Fun to read as usual JH.

The guide I mentioned previously for Inle Lake ( Phyu Phyu) is located in Yone Gyi Rd, Naung Shwe. Her bamboo hut is about 400 m down from the main canal to the lake. It's next door to a bright blue steel two storey shed.
She supports two young sons and her parents, has good English, and does massages !

Wet towels on the back of the neck, or on top of the head help with the heat !
sartoric is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 27th, 2015, 10:21 PM
  #28
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Well as you can all guess, wifi was at a premium from the time I left Yangon and headed to the hills. In fact, everywhere I went, which included Bagan, Inle Lake and Kyaing Tong, wifi and sometimes power in general were a joke. So what follows are the stories are reports from the last ten or so days, which were full of joy, laughter, adventure, great learning, and in every single possible way, worth doing. I did not get the guide's information for Inle Lake in time, but found a good one anyway who spoke good English, and that worked just fine. But I'm now back in Yangon resting for the day in an airconditioned room. Today is a writing day with periodic trips out to get fruit and drinks, and to pack for some day trips. My utterly ruined but once favorite white (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!) Under Armour travel shirt forgive me while I roll on the floor about the white part, its current color is....um...well...I'd like to be polite but can't, I can say that anyone who's ever changed a diaper can relate, and I have scrubbed the hell out of this shirt every single night until my arms fell off. I'm actually laughing out loud, I don't think pure bleach will get this out. But I WILL trek in 108 degree heat for hours on end in the Shan Hills and I WILL play with animals and kids and clamber into people's dusty houses and I WILL massage huge bullocks and dogs and if you WILL do these things then...nuff said. Sorry I can't load up pics, there are a slew of them on my Facebook page.

So. On the 16th May I flew to Bagan. And the fun began.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 27th, 2015, 10:52 PM
  #29
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
As soon as I landed in Bagan, I snagged a taxi driver and negotiated with him to work with me for about three days. This got me a decent rate. The reason was he spoke good English, was unerringly polite, was early every morning and found me a great guide for Mt. Popa. He also directed me to a superb lacquer shop where I dropped an appalling amount of money ( a horsehair cup there now goes for fifty bucks, what inflation and a tourist economy does, they cost about five a few years back. The jewelry box I paid $150 was twelve. Ouch).

Bagan- where the Chinese have not done such a execreble job of rebuliding the extraordinary stupas and making them look brand new- is a wonder. The heat was a living thing. I stayed in a blessedly cool dorm room with a changing group of men or women, but it was clean and fun and they fed us. Each day my guide showed up ten minutes early and he took me to the temples. What engaged me most- after I'd taken the requisite Buddha photos, and after forty of them decided I'd rather had my fill- were the amazing artwork on the outside. The biggest problem here as Kathie will most assuredly recall is that all approach is barefoot. YAH! Well, yeah boy howdy, with that sun, by about 10:30 you are blistering your pinkies, which is exactly what I did, being determined to see the outside, the roof, all the animals and courtyards and and and...you simply cannot run fast enough. By the third day we had rain, which was blessed for more reasons than one. That gave me the chance to stand outside and see what those 11th-13th century kings were paying so much for.

Here is where the real artistry exists. Inside, wind and time have made the painted frescoes that reach to the ceiling very difficult to see, and the bored attendants who whisk you through with a flashlight (note: bring your own, take your time, or even better, wear a headlamp) tend to want to get you back outside to "look at my paintings." Now this wouldn't be so bad except this kids are dropping out of school to hawk paintings, which is the same thing I saw in Sa pa Vietnam. I don't buy from hawkers for that reason. There are markets galore outside the most touristed pagodas and stupas and people there have begun to use the most common phrases like "where are you from" and other conversation starters to get you to look at their goods. For someone who really just wants to see the stupas, this really can and does get in your face after a while, especially if you've already done your buying, and people are getting aggressive. And they do. I had one woman who had some education, of which she was duly proud, chase me all the way into the pagoda, and keep after me until I simply refused to respond to her any more, took out my own flashlight and began to study the walls. Everyone is selling much the same thing, which is part of the problem. What I did buy was a Coke for my driver, which he received with great joy. Personally I despise the stuff but they love it, and a cold Coke tended to revive him after waiting in the foul heat for me while I traipsed through the pagodas.

The other wonder, especially at the less busy locations, was just the pure brilliance of the designers in their use of height, windows, air movement and shadow to create a cooling wind that was constantly blowing inside while outside it was a fury. I recall walking past a Buddha and into a crosswind which instantly dried my sweat. It might have been around 78 degrees, while outside at least 30 degrees higher. I walked through the entire building, and around each corner the same sweet breeze met you in the face.

Some pagodas allowed a viewing platform, from which you could see what remained of the 7000 known pagodas and stupas from the extensive building periods from the 11th to the 13th centuries. It is astounding, and humbling. In some cases, kings ( in my humble opinion) competed with each other to build a bigger pagoda, more gold, more ornate sculpture. In fact, in some cases, when a pagoda was just that good, for his trouble that fine architect got assassinated. I'm sure that part wasn't in the original contract. The king was simply making sure his rival couldn't hire the guy away. Sound like American business, anyone?

What these architects and their artists did build were nealry living pieces of art. The buildings had the most remarkable artwork, details, delicate handwork that to walk around them was a process that took so much time that I worried about my driver. I used up my camera batteries. I studied, touched, photographed. At one point these buildings had been covered in colored stucco, not the raw brick that they are today, but even now the red of the brick is a delight to the eye.

My driver took me to other temples that tourists typically ignore, like the ancient Hindu temple. Once he knew that I was interested in seeing beyond the standard, he took me to see gates, sights, temples, all kinds of things that had no one poking about. And as well, when he found out that I was desperate to find fresh fruit, we tracked down a little fruit stand where I scored fantasic mangoes. a huge watermelon and a surfeit of finger bananas. That tided me over with the daily eggs, for nobody served fruit for breakfast in Bagan that I could find. Noodles and eggs but no fruit.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 27th, 2015, 11:29 PM
  #30
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Fruit is an interesting commodity here, and it seems to depend upon who's buying it. Not always. I just walked down the street to buy mangoes here in Yangon. The first time I did it a woman wanted 1000 kyat for one. This time a man wanted the same for three, same size. What I found out in the hinterlands was that if I had a guide with me doing the negotiation it helped a lot. For example in the Inle Lake market, and I landed on market day, mangoes were 1500 kyat apiece. Nothing doing. I got them for breakfast at my hotel, the Aquarius Inn, and more if I asked. I've no idea if that's the tourist price. Some told me that this was typical of Inle Lake.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 27th, 2015, 11:55 PM
  #31
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
So my driver, at my request, found me a guide (40 bucks) for the half day trip to Mt. Popa, and he gave me a good deal (40 bucks) which is normally about 55 from what I heard. They were at least fifteen minutes early and the guide was there ready to give me the day's itinerary. We were going to stop and see some villages along the way, eat at this restaurant, fine fine fine. We left.

The village stop is a standard tourist display. First thing I see is a massive white bullock pulling in a tight circle, his master sitting on the spoke that he is pulling, grinding what turns out to be ground peanuts and sesame seeds for pig food. I'm outta the cart and at the bull's head in a heartbeat. We get permission and I start scrubbing Mr Man's ears. To which he gives me this "Whaaaa?" look and drops his head and gets into it. I mean INTO it. I walk around him, giving this big boy a serious nail scratch, over the hump, into the wrinkles, down the legs, under the belly. Down goes the head. Down. Down. Down. I'm on his butt now. ZZZZZZZ. His owner is watching this, big smile, wide eyed. I walk around him on the way back, by now my fingers are black. I scrub the poo out of this boy, and make may way back over the hump and up to his ears again. HIs muzzle is on the ground, eyes closed. I kneel on the ground right in front of him and scratch the big folds under his chin and neck. He lifts his head and gives me this big wet kiss ( do I need to remind you that the most common place they stick their tongues is up their nostrils) right on the left cheek. One very happy boy. He stands there and swivels his head towards me expectantly, while I wait for him to get going again. Eventually he does, but each time he gets to my shoulder he stops and looks at me with eyes that say a very Dickensonian "More please?" and he licks my hand. Gawd I love to do this. What a sweetie. Not all of them let you, not all dogs let you rub them. Trust me. The ones who do, wow. The rest was all show, how they make hootch, the candy, and they want you to buy something. It's educational. But the bull was the treat for me.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 28th, 2015, 12:01 AM
  #32
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Hey sartoric, I took wipes at times, finding that wet towels were too heavy to carry, and I drank all my water. On the hottest climbs (four hours, 45 C, no clouds and no breezes, out all day from 9 til 5 pm) I sweated so profusely that my own cooling system actually did precisely what it was designed to do. While my poor Under Armour shirt may no longer be white, the material is such an effective wicking fabric that it was constantly evaporating. Cotton is useless for that when you're working that hard, that long, it just doesn't release the moisture quickly enough. Remarkably enough though, I found by experimenting with some new fibers, that extremely thin wool tops that are made by folks like Icebreatker and Smartwool end up being the best because they do not hold odors, the bane of all adventurous folks and those who have to travel lightly and use the same items over and over on a trip. The problem though is that those items have no pockets (can't live without them) and an oldie like me HAS to have a place to put the peepers. Can't see squat without the peepers.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 28th, 2015, 12:07 AM
  #33
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
BTW Needvacation, I did see where there were the occasional riding clubs. After all the Brits were here for years. And there are horse carts here and there too. However when I asked, my guides had no clue at all. They didn't know what a riding club was and the concept of riding was a little unknown to them. So it would take some sleuthing, and I would imagine it lands among the upper classes. I didn't try to chase it down, no longer owning a pair of paddock boots, and leaving most of my gear behind in Yangon.

When I enquired here about various more exciting options for things to do I got blanks. The response pretty universally was "we don't have that here." Tourists are mostly the kind who sit and look, walk a short way and look, or are boated around and look, but don't much care for hard core adventure. Locals or Asians are willing to hike, as are younger tourists, but they are just getting accustomed to that kind of demand. That's both good and bad for the change it portends.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 28th, 2015, 12:26 AM
  #34
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
The other adventure if you can call it that, or at least something that demands a little sweat equity, is the pagoda and series of stupas on the top of a volcanic stub right next to Mt. Popa. A monk envisioned something special there, and it happened. It takes about twenty minutes, depending on your conditioning, and you have to do a fair amount of dodging to get to the top. That is, away from very aggresstive, filthy, obese monkeys and their poop and pee all over the stairs. The hardest working volunteers there are the ones constantly cleaning the stairs and I don't see THAT job described on World's Nasiest Jobs. It is, trust me.

I love to run steps, and these were fun, even if monkeys did bum rush you from the shadows. They have these wicked guerilla tactics, and as you go up you learn to anticipate where they might be hiding. They have mange. NOT NICE. But the top is worth the climb.

It's interesting to note here that there seems to be a revulsion to physical labor on the part of those who have enough income so that they don't have to work. In other words, those who don't have, labor. When I've had guides, and there is labor involved in going up stairs, a lot of them, or hiking up mountains, steep ones, I've been very surprised at how quickly these men flag. They are half my age or younger, and I lose them about half way up. There isn't yet that love affair with muscles that Western countries have, here leisure is more valued, and with that, the loss of tone, endurance and everything else. In the villages, the elderly, with rare exception, might be missing some teeth, but they were spry, lively, bright eyed, and engaged, and still working hard in their seventies. It's an education to see these values at work.

The other interesting, and often very funny, part of Mt. Popa are the "nat" shrines. The way my guide explained it, nats are animal spirits but they are in human form. There is a very long exhibit for all the nats, ruled over by a woman and her two sons. It stretches a long way in either direction. Each has a fun story, and each has money stuffed into its hands or costume according to the most recent pentient.

After I heard the stories and explanation, here's what I gleaned of the reasoning behind the nats (which preceded Buddhism in these parts: Myanmar cultures are very nonconfrontational. Almost every nat has a story in which the perpetrator (who later becomes a nat) is killed or destroyed for something like dereliction of duty or drunkenness or taking issue with the king. By praying to or worshipping a nat, it is the perfect passive aggressive way to take issue with a public figure like the king without losing your head over it. You can ask for interference, revenge, hurl your bile and pay your money. So if the object of your anger runs into misfortune you have the pleasure of knowing you were the source. What a perfect setup. It works in the other direction as well, for positive interference.

Then Buddhism came along, but people still revere and worship nats. I gave money to the woman on the tiger purely for symbolism's sake.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 28th, 2015, 02:48 AM
  #35
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,329
Sounds like you've had a fine time JH, good onya.

If you have some spare time in Yangon, take the local boat across the river then hire a motorcycle taxi to take you around.

I'm probably too late with this suggestion also ....��
sartoric is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 28th, 2015, 03:22 AM
  #36
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Hey Sar, my local guy, Zaw, is picking me up at oh dark thirty to carry me off for two days to Golden Rock. We've got some plans for a village, a zoo and some other good stuff as well. My thinking is that I'm trying to not have to hit the ATM again ( I just peeked at my bill EEEKKK) so I"m hoping my $350 US is going to stretch. Today I've been using all my org skills to fit everything into my bags. What I also realized was that I'd bought some Burmese antiques in Thailand, and I'll bet you dime to a dollar that will get challenged at customs. So I had to also go digging through all my reciepts to make sure I had all my proofs of purchases in Thailand before I got on the plane. Better safe than sorry, and in this country even more so.

Thanks for a tip o the hat.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 28th, 2015, 03:33 AM
  #37
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Inle Lake was my next adventure, and my very first impression was that the stories I'd heard about $65 US taxi rides were wrong. Mine was $20US, and while pricey, nobody was being unreasonable. The kid who WAS, was the one pinning an extra dollar on top of the ten dollar Inle Lake entry fee. My driver said ten, kid said eleven . I fought him on it out of principle. It' s not the money- it pissed me off royally when people do that kind of thing. Ultimately I gave in but the principle of it still annoys me. People do it because they can. That kind of power gets deep under my skin.

My place in Inle Lake was Aquarius Inn, a simply charming, hidden in the gorgeous trees and gardens kind of place. They met you with fruit and tea and treated you so well, and I loved it there. They had a sweet natured dog with the most delightful manners (he would run to you at brekkie but under no circumstances would he eat from your hand. He would wait patiently for you to put his offering on a plate on the floor, then delicately take it up. I've never seen such good manners, not even on so called "well behaved" dogs in my country, who shove their faces in your lap and dislodge your fork in their enthusiasm. This little boy discovered that I had a mean way with ears, and he buried his ears against my fingers and sighed deeply. That is until he found out that I had an equally good way with toes, legs, belly, and his pelvis, which turned out to be his Donnybrook.

One of my fave things in the world is to find The Perfect Spot on any animal and for this boy it was right between his pelvic bones. Whether sleeping or standing that was his I'm in Heaven Spot, and he came right after me when he smelled me nearby to present said butkus for massaging. He slept in the deep, dark, earthy soil of a long planter next to card tables, and he was up early. As the first one up for breakfast I had his pleasant face facing me at the table, patiently waiting his turn. The cats were much more insistent, climbing on the table. Aquarius served oodles of fruit and tons of tea and lots of eggs. We often got rained on, and they had a line on a great guide who spoke excellent English.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 28th, 2015, 03:47 AM
  #38
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
The first time we went out I'd planned to go out solo but a couple of Aussies and two Dutch girls joined us so we ended up doing the tourist route. Kathie would be pleased to know that the lotus weaving was on our run that day. My battery was shot, so I already knew I'd be making another boat run the next day, so I concentrated on learning and watching. And finding a purchase. The scarves are so dear it was hard to choose one, but when you take into account the extraordinary extraction process and the handwork, it does seem well worth it. When I went back the next day, my primary interest was in capturing on video the rhythm and movement of the looms, and the clacking made by a roomful of women weaving all at once. It's an extraordinary sound, unique in all the world.

The second day (and my last) was far more engaging, as the water levels were so low that the previous days' heavy load of five people prevented my driver from taking us to a few spots because we'd have gone aground immediately. With one light person aboard we easily sped down the canals to see the umbrella factory and a few other spots, including silver making, that were out of reach the prior day.

What I enjoyed most of all was Inthein, where there was a pagoda at the top of the hill surrounded by more than a thousand ancient and perfectly beautiful Asian stupas. Now I'll get this over with and insult a few folks but this is my opinion and mine alone. When I got to the top and saw what was being done to these ancient works of art: effectively selling them to foreigners to be rebuilt in lifeless, ugly, smooth concrete so that you can "dedicate" it to your kid or something else equally ridiculous (pardon my sarcasm but this should be a priceless UNESCO World Heritage Site here not a place where you buy a placque for your damned baby). The result of these remade stupas is so sterile, lifeless and offensive compared to the living relics below with their aging Buddhas, their gorgeous artwork, their pricelss archeological and historical value, well, nuff said. I took tons of photos because I honestly believe that some greedy fool or fools actually will end up selling off those rights to foreigners who want to immortalize their children rather than donate to something higher, better and well served. Done. Hate mail welcomed.

I was stupefied by what I found in these relics: decaying Buddhas, pieces of artwork untold centuries old, each of which made a tremendous photo. The stupas have been entwining with Mother Nature for centures, with trees growing from their spires, bushes leaning horizontally, flowers everyhwere. Buddha would be so pleased, I suspect. I've rarely seen anything so balanced and lovely, ancient and natural, so blended. Concret. Phooey.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 28th, 2015, 04:18 AM
  #39
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
We also spent time put putting slowly around the graceful forms of the fisherman balancing so deftly on the ends of their boats, moving quietly across the lake using the unique one-legged paddling motion common to Inle Lake. My video would make any viewer seascik as the boat is bouncing in the waves, but at least I can watch and enjoy it, and remember. The lotus patches floated by us, the clouds scudded by ahead, and over the city their bellies opened up for rain.

In town I discovered a restaurant called The Natural. A mean cashew chicken (without the chilis) and rice, and fruit to go, three nights in a row. Once I had it I had to go back, it was by all means the best food I had in country. Period. The mangoes in town were ridiculously expensive so I counted on their take home boxes of lychee nuts, mango, bananas, watermelon and various other sweets for late night snacking. The meal was chock full of cashews. The first night the skies opened up on us while I eating, and I was the lone customer. It didn't abate. If anything the downpour grew in intensity.

This is when this gear pig really has fun. I'd brought a pair of superbly lightweight Marmot rain pants and a Patagonia jacket made for high mountain winds and rain conditions. Here was a perfect storm in which to try it out. I stepped into my gear, loaded up my take home boxes and headed cheerfully out into the deluge.

The hood of the orange jacket allows you to snug it down around your face and there's a bill, so that the rain is kept out of your eyes. Nobody was driving, but I had to keep an eye out for cyclists on their way home. The puddles were very deep.

As I made my way home I waved cheerfully at people who were huddling under their awnings from the onslaught. Inside my gear I was warm and dry. I could feel the pounding of the rain and the wind on my body but nothing was coming through. My hands and feet were wet, but that was minor.

The only thing I had to do upon getting back to the Inn was snap the rain gear a few times and then hang out to dry which they did in the wind of the fan in just a few mintues. I love good gear.

One thing I learned about Inle Lake, rain and mud was when I'd first arrived. Rain has preceded me so there were plenty of big puddles in the main road. There are no drainage areas so it just puddles there. I was walking along the road and saw what I thought at the time was a large pile of rocks. Now up to this point I'd been quite accustomed to seeing rocks on the roadside for road work. These were laid by hand. So I just made what would have been a perfectly normal assumption that that's what this pile was, and so I started climbing it to avoid the traffic and deep puddles on the main road.

Not smart. Not rocks.

This was the most wicked, treacly, sticky mud I have ever encountered. Every step more of it would cling to my sports sandal. weighing them down with the effect of tying bricks to my feet. There was nowhere to brush it off, knock it off. One had to just keep on walking, accummulating more and more of this unruly goo until you land on the other end, fully four inches taller than you started. Now. To get this damned stuff off.

It bloody well refused. And I mean refused. I scraped and stood in water and did everything a reasonable person might do to remove normal mud. But this is not normal mud. This is science fiction, Born in the Bowels of Hell Mud, the kind that your kids used to get on the clothing and shoes and tramp through the house right after you bought that new beige rug mud. The kind of mud that does NOT come out of the white shirt mud, if you get my meaning, this was the beginning of the end of my white shirt.

A battle ensued on the street. I'd scrape, curse. find gravel, scrape some more, find water, scrape, you get the picture. I've never seen the like of it. It had the consistency of wet cement mixed with Super Glue that doesn't set. And it stains instantly. Finally I got enough off to commence walking. I guess I could have gotten the clue when NOBODY ELSE WAS WALKING ON IT but that bright thought didn't penetrate. Once I got it mostly removed from my sandals I felt so much lighter I nearly ran for the nearest scale to weigh myself.

It came to me later, after observing so many large earth moving machines in the water, that due to the lack of rain for so long (NO of course there's no climate change, what are you talking about???) they've had to deepen the channel. Without the channel all life ceases to move. The channels are the supply chain, something I know quite a bit about. All commerce and the movement of people and products stop. So if the water dips too low, and believe me I saw a lot of sandbars where my driver said there shouldn't be, there's trouble. The big eartth movers where everywhere.

That mud came from the bottom of the channel. As Gandalf might say, "It came from the Dark Deep." Orchestra makes threatening music in backround. That mud needs to either stay where it is, or be put in someones garden. I'll bet it's incredibly rich. But on the damn road? What are they thinking????
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 28th, 2015, 05:22 AM
  #40
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 637
Mr Man of the Dreaded Pelvis Rub followed me in to my room, something I know full well he wasn't allowed to do, but I was curious to see what he would do in there. He was intensely curious. He inspected everything. Everything.

Then he disappeared into the bathroom.

Now many of you know that when you travel so often toilets and showers are combined, so that the tiles on the floor are always cool from the shower. My room had a fan going most of the time, and the bathroom was in the shade all day, so the effect was that this room was almost cold.

Mr Man wasn't coming out.

After a while, since I'd left my room door open for him to explore elsewhere, I figured he'd left. But just in case, I checked. There he was, splayed out on the near icy floor of the shower, enjoying temps that I doubt he'd ever felt against his body before. He was snoring.

I left him alone to dream of Alaska, of dogs that grew fur, and bears that chased them and sometimes played with them.

In the meantime, content that I could give him a respite from the constants of heat and humidity, I worked, read and napped. At some point I heard him get up. I looked up at him as he made his way out the door. I swear he winked at me.
jhubbel is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:45 AM.