On the road to Mandalay

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.

Recommended reading.
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.

(Kipling)

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Goa and Agra, practical

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I visited Goa and Agra as an independent traveler in february 2012. Here are some first hand practical things that I encountered in those weeks and the reader might find useful. South Goa – I stayed in Majorda at the … Continue reading

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Portuguese left in India

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My research question was: What’s left of the Portuguese in India? Many old mansions and many Portuguese names. The hotel woman listens to the name of Fernandez, the signs of shops show Da Costa, Silva or Teixeiras. In the capital … Continue reading

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The Taj Mahal

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What shall I do to remember you by? asked the emperor of India his unquestionable love of his life, who was dying. Make something that everyone who sees it, will never forget, she said. So he did with the help … Continue reading

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Goa, the southern part

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What to do in Goa? Do Nothing! Sitting at a beach shack, sipping on a cold beer, smoking a fine Dutch sigar. Watching miles of thin white sands and the endless sea. Read an e-book, see the sun set. That’s … Continue reading

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Lijiang bus station (where I lost my passport and what happened next)

Friday, around 10 am, at the Lijiang bus station.
I gaze at the empty floor. Can’t believe what I see. I see nothing, but I should see my shoulder bag. It is not there anymore. I yell to my wife Hillie sitting next to me: My bag is gone. My passport! I run outside, looking everywhere, into the adjacent fruit store, back into the waiting room, not a glimpse of my bag. Hillie shouts: we must stop the busses. I run into the first bus that is on the point to leave. Continue reading

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Waiting in hotel

Lijiang friday, 2 pm, back at the hotel.

What happened? cried the landlady not expecting to see us again that soon. I told her about the waiting room. She looked real sad and tried to think of what she could do to help us. If you have any questions, ask me she kept saying the next days. It’s a small hotel with about ten rooms around a very nice courtyard. With the advantage of free wifi, but that’s useless without my iPad. Continue reading

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Flying to Shanghai

Lijiang saturday and sunday, waiting …

The next day we decided to book the flight of monday evening. There were two tickets left. Got them. It meant that we would show up at the Consulate on tuesday in stead of monday, four working days left until our flight to Europe on the first of august. Via Booking.com we booked three nights in the same nice hotel in Shanghai where we’ve been before. Booking has their servers outside China that’s why the connection is very slow. Continue reading

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Public Security Bureau (to get the exitvisa)

Shanghai, tuesday at the Consulate

With the address written down in Chinese the taxi drove us in 50 minutes to the building of the Dutch Consulate. Many people waiting, we were the only whites. A very friendly Chinese looking, Dutch speaking girl helped us. Continue reading

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Leaving Shanghai

Shanghai, thursday and friday, Pay first!

Suzhou

Without a proper ID we didn’t feel free enough to travel around, but we went to the impressive Apple Store and I bought myself an new iPod Touch. So I would have a device with wifi internet acces and a simple camera. Continue reading

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