09 August, 2010

Dear Diary: Dangers & Annoyances... Notes from our Burma/Myanmar Travel Chronicles, 2010

A typical banknote from Burma: limp, filthy, many patches, and needing more.
That basically sums up the Burma of today.

 Let's put it this way: traveling in Burma ain't for the faint-hearted. On our 5th trip (yes, we are crazy) we still made some wrong turns, dodgy decisions and hard yards. Tourist infrastructure just isn't set up for your imagined armchair ride. But now (after the event!) we consider it was all worthwhile, all weaving threads in the (violins, please) Great Tapestry of Life...

Let's get the picture postcard thing out of the way first...

 Buffalo taxi at Mingun, north of Mandalay.

 ...and head straight to one of the upper middle-class streets in a classy area of Rangoon (Yangon, in Junta-speak). This lovely old building, like most, is being allowed to decay under years of grime and grunge:

 And on the opposite end of the social scale is a shanty leaning against a tree on a public riverbank at Myitkyina, way up north in Kachin State:

But there were contrasts, too, of a different nature. In the ex-colonial British "hill station" town of Pyin U Lin, east of Mandalay, one could be forgiven for thinking that you'd suddenly been transported to rural Suffolk. This was pure John Constable, but twenty degrees warmer...

An ex-British mansion in the cool of Pyin U Lin. The Burmese Military has appropriated all of these for itself.

For a photo-diary of the trip, click here. It will open in a new window for your convenience, and take you through a nightmare river trip, a long limestone cave emerging into a fairytale valley, expose you to the delights of epicurean Nylon ice-cream, and lead you through the dark alleys of Rangoon's drug market (yes we have no electricity again)...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this great journey Peter. It's one of extremes - from the horrible to the awesome and extraordinary. If you can survive the horror boat 'cruise' you can survive anything. Makes me want to visit Burma in spite of the horrors.