Arrived by train back in Bangkok from Vientiane to Nong Kai (after some problems with the ticket issued to us in Vientiane Laos) for a two-night “lay-over”. This, as a precursor to flying out to Myanmar from Don Mueang airport (one of the two airports serving Bangkok).
Arrived Yangon, Myanmar Sunday 18.06.17 at 10:05 am after an hours flight from Bangkok. First impressions, people very friendly and helpful. Taxi ride downtown to ShannKalay Hostel cost 11000.00 kyats (£12.60). After a small sleep took a walk down by the harbour and market area. Lots of old colonial buildings in various states of repair/disrepair, in a myriad of designs from Art Deco, Roman neoclassical, Gothic, and post-modernist vernacular.

Anyone need a hat!

Seems such a shame that those buildings that really do need saving suffer from a lack of funds. However, hopefully, as the economy opens further perhaps more inward investment may be forthcoming. Have been out for some “Street Food” (a little iffy but OK), then at a local restaurant, which was quite busy, (always a good sign). Visited Aung San Suu Kyi’s front gate (where she endured “house arrest”). Visited the “Reclining Buddha”, all 200 feet of her then took a taxi ride around town for four hours looking at various points of interest. Took a walk in the park on a decidedly “dodgy” wooden promenade. Unfortunately, twenty minutes in, the heavens opened and got absolutely soaked to the skin.

Covered quite some ground over the past month or so.

Wednesday 24.06.17 Took a bus for a five-hour ride over to the West coast and the Andaman sea to a town called Ngwesaung, where we checked in at “Hill Top” a small hostel with twelve traditional wooden chalet type buildings. We are now in “rainy season” so the place is fairly deserted and it rains most every day but then brightens. Breakfast and evening meal is provided however, one has to get used to the “house” cat strolling nonchalantly across the table and ants busying themselves with whatever ants tend to do whilst evening meals are consumed quickly as the midges feed themselves on ones ankles, where those “juicy” blood vessels lie close to the surface. The various resort hotels in Ngwesaung are all shut for the rainy season however, one can see that the environment is slowly being developed into a “go to” seaside location for both indigenous people and foreign visitors.
02.07.17The Green Dragon bus company provided a relatively new(ish) Higer bus which barrelled along the narrow roads back from the coast. First twisting and turning around hairpin bends, then slowing to squeeze past other, slower road users with the judicious use of horn and braking systems.We crossed several rivers of varying sizes on bridges constructed either from concrete or wood. Those constructed of wood creaked & groaned disconcertingly as the bus made a passage. The journey continued, passing acre upon acre of rice paddy fields, fish farms and the occasional grazing water buffalo, our progress took us through small village environments where the cadences of daily life played out. A man transporting his 14-foot canoe on his bicycle accompanied by and sometimes engulfed by a variety of geese, goats, dogs and itinerate traders bearing their wares bound for markets and roadside pitches. Young boys, who otherwise should have been in school (one assumes), carrying large bundles of wood on their heads to some ill-defined destination. All this is seen fleetingly as the bus “ghosts” in and then out of these various tableaux.
03.07.17Once more we found ourselves on a bus again following an overnight stay at ShannKalay Guest House in Yangon.(It never ceases to amaze me how far out of town Bus Stations are in Myanmar. Sometimes driving by taxi for an hour and a half out of town, just to get to it!)

Stupas are round. Temples have a square footprint. There are many hundreds of them throughout the area.

At 21:00 we got on board for a 9-hour overnight journey north to the city of Mandalay. Bus stations (to a stranger), seem like a chaotic “madhouse” of feverish & chaotic activity. However, it all seems to work reasonably well, and we find ourselves ensconced in a rather nice Swedish built Scania Vabis Executive coach with A/C, fully reclining, comfortable seats, onboard seat back t.v. sets with a choice of films in most languages. There are also snacks and drinks on offer.09.07.17 Mandalay seems overwhelmed with temples and stupa of varying sizes and styles.The town is fairly spread out and has a walled “Citadel” which the army appears to be used as a barracks. Only stopping a couple of nights then another coach trip south to a town called Bagan lying on the Irrawaddy river.

Most every woman and child seems to have a predisposition to paint their faces. Now whether this started out as “sun protection” & ended up being quite fashionable, I know not. Quite unusual though.

Though a rather dusty place, it has a vibrancy and development is taking place very quickly as the economy opens up to enterprise and irrepressible entrepreneurs.08.07.17 Inle LakeArrived here in the early hours (04:30) and got into town by Tuk Tuk as the bus station was some distance from town. However, the night watchman woke at our calling and kindly let us in. It was still dark.

A lady of the Kayan tribe who inhabit an area in NE east Burma close to the Thai border

Women of the Kayan Lahwi tribe are well known for wearing neck rings, brass coils that are placed around the neck, appearing to lengthen it.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s due to conflict with the military regime in Myanmar, many Kayan tribes fled to the Thai border area.[3] Among the refugee camps set-up, there was a Long Neck section, which became a tourist site, self-sufficient on tourist revenue and not needing financial assistance.

Tomorrow will take a native boat trip around Inle Lake to visit some villages, Stupas, watching fisherman at their labours and a visit a floating tomato farm which are plentiful around this area of the country.

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