Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Myanmar and Mandalay


I’m in the middle of the A-Z challenge, listing bucket lists of places that I’ve not been, but would I’d like to visit in my life.  I doubt I will be able to make every one of these trips, but this one might be doable and not as expensive as some of the others.

Bagan (from Wikipedia)
There are all kinds of places that begin with an M.  There’s Mexico, but I’ve been there a number of times.  There’s also Malaysia and Mongolia, places that sound (and are) a bit more exotic, but I’ve also been blessed to have spent time in both of those countries.  Hopefully, one day I can get back to both countries as there’s still a lot to see.   I’d love to get to Montevideo and Mozambique, but higher on my list is Myanmar, also known as Burma, a major country in Southeast Asia.  I’ve been within about 10 kms of the border when in Thailand, but hopefully I can make the trip before I die.  I’d really like to enter the country from Thailand on the Thai-Burma railroad that is supposed to be reestablished.  Thailand had taken up the tracks to provide a more solid barrier between the two countries during the unrest that has plagued the country for the past fifty years.  Hopefully the Myanmar government is making progress and getting over its political troubles and constant Civil War.   The railway was built by the British and has been left to deteriorate and isn't the best railway in the world, but it’s a train.
Gokeik Viaduct, photo by Richard Herring on www.themaninseat61.org
I would not expect a trip to Myanmar to be pleasant.  From what I’ve heard Rangoon (or Yangon) is hot and humid.  Mandalay is hot and for much of the year dusty and dry.  Under the repressive governments, the infrastructure has crumbled.  In GhostTrain to the Eastern Star, Paul Theroux retraced his earlier rail journey documented in The Great Railway Bazaar.  Thirty years after his first journey, he was shocked at how the country had deteriorated.  However, one has to acknowledge the exotic sound of traveling to Rangoon or Mandalay.   The country is steeped in Buddhist culture and temples dot the landscape.  I would love to witness the temples on the Bagan plateau, especially in the early morning hours when the fog is close to the ground.  It is even possible to travel from Mandalay to Bagan via a riverboat which is enticing.  In addition to taking the train from Rangoon to Mandalay, extending the travels on to Inle Lake, or to travel further north into the mountains to the British holiday site of Pyin Oo Lwinto and continuing on to Gokeik and the long trestle that the train crosses.   While the cities may be hot and either wet or dry, the mountains will be a welcomed relief and a time to enjoy the countryside.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Finding George Orwell in Burma, a wonderful travelogue by Emma Larkin.

17 comments:

  1. Sounds like it would be a true adventure.

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  2. Sounds like it would be a true adventure.

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  3. I think one could spend a lifetime wandering the countries of the pacific rim.

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  4. Even the names are exotic. Hope you get to visit.

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  5. A riverboat cruise would be wonderful!

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  6. My least favorite city in Myanmar was Mandalay. And I'd always had this poetic vision of the place. The river trip from there was the highlight and it got me out of that city and gave me my poetic experience after all. Began was the best. It's a sea of stupas, all golden in the hot sun or tropical rain. Really lovely.

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    1. wow, Lee, you've really have gotten around!

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  7. And yet another place I'd never heard of: Myanmar. It appears subdued.

    Happy Friday, Sage.

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  8. And yet another place I'd never heard of: Myanmar. It appears subdued.

    Happy Friday, Sage.

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  9. You're picking some interesting locations. I'd love to visit these places.

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  10. Myanmar has a great name, but like you, I'd expect the conditions not to be ideal.

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  11. Very impressed with your list of the countries you have already visited so I have no doubt if you say you will go - you'll go!! Passing through on the A-Z Challenge - we're half way there :)
    Pempi
    A Stormy Sidekick
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

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  12. Now I'll have to google more about Bagan, what a dreamy photo you've included. You are a true tour guide just in case you didn't realize it! Bravo on all your hard work, and making it such a pleasure for us too.

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