I’ll give you 5 seconds to answer: What is the very first thing that comes to mind when you think about Myanmar? Let me guess – Aung San Suu Kyi, right? At least for me it was. When I got around to think about what I actually knew about this nation before travelling there, “not much” sums it up, I’m afraid..
Now, let’s take this from the beginning. My two childhood friends, Jørgen & Martin has got two parents (as one commonly does) with a slight taste (read: huge appetite) for the Pacific Ocean and all of its remote, tropical islands. So, last winter they left Oslo to spend a couple of months in paradise (look up Rarotonga – no, not on a physical map, …yes, use Google image search, … and yes, that is actually the place, …no, that is not photoshopped (you get the point now, I figure)). Accompanied in part by their children; these two young boys wanted to do a sweep across Asia, before returning home. A part of that exciting quest was exploration of Myanmar. I was invited along – and gladly accepted!
Flight DY7205 from Oslo through Stockholm to Bangkok. Appropriately named “BANG-kok!”, a complete opposite to “The sound of Silence”. However, it felt strangely familiar, having been to some of the great, busy cities of India. A picture of traffic in two-three elevated “channels” feels appropriate:
Flying to and from Myanmar is restricted to some chosen destinations, and for that reason, we used Thailand as a springboard to its neighbour in the west.
Here’s a portrait of Martin before we move on!
We spent two days exploring, and amongst other things, joined in on a trip into the backwaters of the city; a web of interconnected canals – with “swarming” wildlife… at least a couple of laid-back lizards or two… (pictures to come!).
I’d like to call the next picture “The river captain, and his wife”. Strangely, he is not the one doing the dishes at this one instance in time.
There are no longer predators around that hunt the water monitors. Thus, with a steady supply of food available around-the-clock, they have become lazy and “fearless” of humans, and human activities. We could almost touch it, – that’s how close we could come.
According to our guide, a lot of the traditional way of “slow(-er)” living is vanishing at an accelerating rate. This can perhaps be seen by the brand new buildings that are mixed in with the old canal-side houses.
One thing you don’t escape (in Asia in general), are temples. Literally everywhere, and with an astonishing amount of gold and glitter. However, the golden tan doesn’t come naturally, someone has to paint them shiny…
Back to the backwaters again!
…where we found an orchid farm:
…and an insane amount of fish (carp, I think), that was used to being fed white bread lol. When we started to feed them, the water literally turned into fish. H-Fish-O2. The battle was ON!
Back in the city, this stray dog caught my attention between two parked, colourful buses.
The air quality is plain awful, no surprise here. The drivers try to be cautious, and most use a facial mask.
The next day, we swapped out Bangkok with Mandalay. It’s situated on the banks of Irrawaddy, in the heart of Myanmar. (This is a good time to hit play on Hans Zimmer’s masterpiece “Waters of Irrawaddy”, to really set the mood!). We got a small bungalow all to ourselves, – left our belongings there, and went outside. Our first impression of the people of Myanmar was that they were very friendly, polite – and by no means accustomed to tourists. This is of course a big plus, as it means not getting ripped off in taxis, restaurants and most stores.
Jørgen and Martin posing in front of our accommodation. Award for being the easiest to recognise person, goes to Jørgen, for his exemplary orange shirt.
The first image of this blogpost, was taken just outside our hotel at night time. Same night, some sort of festival were held in the streets, with loads of exotic food and fun activities, mostly for children.
We got in touch with some locals – or more correctly, Jørgen spotted a guitar. They were nice, and we sang along. No english though. But guitar. Fun!
We rented bikes the following morning, and went out at the crack of dawn. First stop was the local marked, were we got to try out a few tasty sweets and meet some of the people that worked there; which to our surprise was (almost) women only! Here are some of them:
I leave you with the following image from the marked entrance, which I really like – may even go as far and say that I think it’s the best picture of this blogpost! Until next time (part 2), cheerio!