Back to Mandalay and rented bike from Zach and headed out to do a trip thru the Chin State ( the poorest state in Burma) in western Burma. 1,600 kms in 10 days and wow, what a trip, Highlight was being in the mtns thru most of the trip and visiting the tattooed Chin Ladies outside Mindat
Mandalay- Kale- Falam- Hakha- Gangaw- Mindat- Mt Popa- Mandalay
Mandalay is the second-largest city and the last Royal Capital of Burma. Located 716 km (445 miles) north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River.
Mandalay remains Upper Burma's main commercial, educational and health center.
Trip was mid July 2014 1-48
March/April 2015 49-91
Mandalay's famous Jade market, where the precious stone is cut an sold.
A street procession
Trip to the Ancient cites of; Amarapura, Sagaing, Inwa & Mingun & U Bein Bridge at Sunset
Flew into Yangon (Rangon) and spent a few days exploring the city and taking in the Shwedagon & Sule Paya's (pagodas) in town, the local markets, Bogyoke market and China town before heading south
Yangon -Kyaithkya (Golden Rock)
3 hours bus ride and than a Fantastic 45 minute ride in an open top truck to the top to view the Golden rock. A site not to be missed and one of the holiest spots for Burmese in all of Myanmar, the ride to the top was worth the trip.
Was told to be in front of the hotel at 10 am for the bus to pick me up, BUT as usual, the hotel got it wrong and ended up taking a 30 minute ride on the back of a motorcycle to the next town to catch the Local bus to Hpa-An. Rented a motorcycle and headed out into the countryside to visit the local caves and a small Pagoda built in the center of a lake. Amazing
6 hour train ride thru the countryside, really nice small town stayed at the American run ( wiht his Burmese wife) starlight gh siting above the lake.. Ye gets very few tourists as most by pass it in their hurry to get to Dawei, but it is worth the nights stop.
5 hours on a local bus thru the mountains over some pretty tough roads. Great early morning seafood market on the river and some very friendly vendors. Rented a bike and headed to the beaches. Maungmagan is he closest beach, about 20 kms from town, but than headed south further thru small villages on dirt roads for another hour and arriving at Nabule, miles and miles of white sand beach, crystal clear water and not a bunglaow, restaurant or person in sight. Absolutely beautiful and I imagine what the beaches in Thailand looked like 50 + years ago.
Left my hotel at 12:30 AM to the tour office where we took a bus an hour to the pier where the fast Air con boat left at 3:30 am. Arrived 5 hours later and the Hotel Grand Jade allowed me to check in at 9:30am
From Myeik the next day, it was a 7 hour boat ride south to Kwathoung on the Andaman sea, passing hundreds of small uninhabited islands & fishing villages.
Than a 30 minute longtail ride to Ranong an back in Thailand and 6 hours more back to Phuket
I have always been fascinated with Asians and their unique sleeping habits. Unlike westerners, Asians seem to be able to sleep/nap where ever they are. Be it at a busy market, on the sidewalks, on the job or where ever they find themselves tired. I could not even imagine falling asleep in a busy market but for Asians this does not seem to be a problem
This is a on going photo essay so check back every month or so to see where i have seen Asians catching a few ZZZZZZ's.
Yangon, the former Capital of Myanmar until 2006
or as known before Rangon, the capital of Burma
Yangon is the country's largest city with a population of over five million, and is the most important commercial centre, although the military government officially relocated the capital to Naypyidaw in March 2006
Yangon was founded as Dagon in the early 11th century. The British seized Yangon and all of Lower Burma in the Second Anglo-Burmese War of 1852, and subsequently transformed Yangon into the commercial and political hub of British Burma.
A lovely old an new city and the famous Shewdagon and Sule Paya's are located here
Bokor Hill station
The town was built as a resort by colonial French settlers to offer an escape from the heat, humidity and general insalubrity of Phnom Penh.
Bokor Hill was abandoned first by the French in late 1940s, during the First Indochina War, because of local insurrections guided by the Khmer Issarak, and then for good in 1972, as Khmer Rouge took over the area. During the Vietnamese invasion in 1979, Khmer Rouge entrenched themselves and held on tightly for months. In the early 1990s Bokor Hill was still one of the last strongholds of Khmer Rouge.
For years it was left abandoned and in fact was used in the filming , "The City of Ghosts".
At the top is a small temple an there building a new larger one as well.
In 2008 or so the Sokimex group built a new 32 kms road to the top an in 2012 the casino/hotel opened along with lodging for the employees plus there are plans to create a larger Bokor City.
I wish i had had the chance to see it before but u can thru these photos,
Photos from our trip in Nov 2015
Kep (and Rabbit Island)
Once Cambodia's most popular and prestigious beach town, Kep has fallen on hard times in recent years. From the early 1900s until the 1960s, it was a thriving resort town for the French and Cambodian elite. Most of Kep's villas are abandoned, but some of the town's former splendor is still apparent.
Now more and more tourists are finding their way here for some great seafood and quiet time. Plenty of Bungalows to accommodate all types of travelers, But bring your own excitement as not much to do but eat, enjoy the water and fantastic sunsets.
It is one of the newest Cambodian provinces, together with Pailin and Sihanoukville, created by Royal Decree on 22 December 2008
10 years on and i feel it will be Cambodia's premier area.
Sir Francis Light, established an English East Indian Company (EIC) trading post in Penang in 1786. In 2008 Georgetown, was declared a world Heritage site by UNESCO, along with Singapore and Malacca. The island of Penang was the first of these 3 British colonies to be established. Old world charm all its own along with Great Indian food and historic old shop houses make Penang a great get away.
Irawaddy River 2,170 kms
My Trip originated in Myitkyina, but unfortunately we had to fly to Bhamo as that part of the river was closed because of fighting.
First day was 7 1/2 hours down to Katha where I stayed for 2 nights, A delightful small town where George Orwell lived in 1926.
From there it was a 17 hour Express boat trip to Mandalay, stopping at many small local villages to offload and accept new passengers.
We Passed thru 3 defiles ( or gorges). As it was pre-monsoon the river was shallow and we spent much of our time zig zagging down the river.
All in all a very peaceful way to travel in Myanmar without the hustle and noise one puts up with taking bus's or trains.
We rented Chinese copies of 125 cc Honda dreams in Mandalay an headed east;
Went thru Pyin U Lwin, Kayaukme and spent 2 nights in Hsipaw where the next day we took off into the restricted Shan state north 80 kms took to the town of Namhsan thru valleys and mtns. 6 hours of travel thru some amazing scenery, stopped for 2 hours and slept while it rained very hard than kept going thru the drizzle.
Coming back we were held up while they repaired two landslides from that afternoon but still only took us 4 hours. Slept very good that night
Next day returned to Kyaukme an asked for directions to the Gem capital of the world "Mogok", known for the finest Rubies & Sapphires. Its a restricted area and has been closed to all westerners since 2008. But we wanted to try and go. We went past 3 checkpoints but as we were riding in the rain, no one stopped us.
Arriving in Mogok we went to the one of the only 2 hotels in town but they refused to allow us to stay as we were there illegally, so finally ended up at the xxxxxx resort out of town , they allowed is to stay after I said i was not leaving and they made us promise to not tell anyone that we had stayed there.
The ride up from Kyaukme to Mogok an back to Mandalay over the old Mandalay - Mogok road went thru some of the most spectacular scenery i have seen in years
total distance was over 820 kms and over 34 hours on the bike with 12 of it in the rain.
Bagan's claim to fame is that between the 7th and 13th century 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries where built on the plains just outside of the city.
In 1975 there was a massive earthquake and many where destroyed with approx 2200 surviving today.
Many new ones are being built as well by the wealthy to gain merit.
Although very popular with tourists, because of the many pagodas an laid back atmosphere, it still retains its small city feel.
A colorful event held over a nine day period in early October, this celebrates the Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind.
It is thought that the festival was bought to Phuket by a wandering Chinese opera group who fell ill with malaria while performing on the island. They decided to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and pray to the Nine Emperor Gods who would ensure purification of the mind and body. On recovery, the people celebrated by holding a festival that was meant to honor the gods as well as express the people's happiness at surviving what was, in the nineteenth century, a fatal illness.
Ma Song, or entranced horses, are devotees whom the gods enter during the feast. They manifest supernatural powers and perform self-tortures in order to shift evil from individuals onto themselves, and to bring the community good luck. Ma Song fall into two categories: those who, having had an intimation of impending doom, want to extend their lives; and people specially chosen by the gods for their moral qualities.