Next week I fly away, to Burma this time. There is no direct flight from Amsterdam so my first step is to Bangkok with EVA Air. The next day with Bangkok Airways to Yangon and same day with Mandalay Air to Inle Lake. Besides visiting the lake and their people, floating markets, pagoda’s and sigar factories I plan to go to the full moon hot air Balloon Festival in Nyaunggi in the evening. When I like the fireworks and burning big balloons, I’ll go again next evening. Two top attractions in the first couple of days. Need I say more? After that to Mandalay the former capital with the Glass Palace, perhaps a mountain train journey to a hill town and by boat over the majestic Irrawaddy River to Bagan. Bagan is known to be one of the three nicest archeological Buddhist sides. The other two are Borobudur on Java and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I have seen these two and I am very curious to make the comparison with Bagan and his field with many many pagoda’s and temples.
In the following I will write about my experiences, about temple fatigue, the influx of tourists in this high season with no proper infrastructure, the cash-only economy (no ATM, no plastic money), slow e-mail connections if any, finding rooms as if it was in the pre-internet days. And above all how this long isolated Asian country and people are like. What is still left of what Rudyard – jungle book – Kipling once wrote: ‘This is Burma. It is quite unlike any place you know about.’
Well I have booked my first 5 nights and will see it from there.
In the preparation of this trip I had much joy in reading Burmese Days by George Orwell, The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh (moving beautiful) and I take the e-book version of The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason with me to read it on the road.
On the road to Mandalay
Where the flying fishes play
And the dawn comes up like thunder
From China, across the bay.