The End

This will be my last post on dinggonghongkong. I hope you all enjoyed it. Below are some conclusions I made after travelling about. Thanks again!

  • Most interesting - India, without a doubt
  • Most beautiful - Laos
  • Best valleys - Sri Lanka
  • Friendliest people - Laos
  • Biggest culture shock - India. Burma second
  • Best city - Seoul, South Korea
  • Best food - Tie between Korea and India, but probably India
  • Coolest people - Koreans
  • Places I would go back too - India and Korea
  • Best vegetation - Sri Lanka
  • Most interesting man made structure - Bagan and Yangon, Burma
  • Most amazing man made structure - Taj Mahal, India
  • most amazing natural phenomenon - Huangshan, China
  • Only place I’d consider living - South Korea
  • Most interesting political/economical situation - Burma

Hong Kong

Jiuzhaigou Valley, China

Huangshan, China

Seoraksan, South Korea

Bagan, Burma

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Logger Elephants, Laos

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Taj Mahal, India

Negombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

My final destination, after 7 months in Asia, was the island of Sri Lanka. The large island was surrounded with amazing beaches and stunning valleys. The interior of the island was the best part consisting of rolling hills. It offered crazy vegetation, wildlife and extremely interesting landscape.

The island had crazy topography changes which changed abruptly. You could drive from the beach at +35 degrees to hill country at +15 degrees in under 100 kms. Drive another 20 km and your at +5 degrees. The roads were all paved and accessible making it perfect for motorbiking. 

I started my two week bike trip in Negombo, north of Colombo. I heard that Colombo was in the top 10 most unlivable cities in the world, so I stayed away from it entirely. I first drove up the west coast to a town called Kalpitiya, on a small peninsula. A Dutch man living there suggested I take a ferry to a small fishing village north called Batalagoonda. (coolest name in the world)

This small village had 1000 villagers, mostly lonely fisherman there to make good money. While on the ferry, a young police officer and I began talking and before I knew it, he invited me to stay at the police station with him for the night. At this point of my travelling, I had become a “Yes Man”, so I accepted. Chareet showed me around the island that day.

The island was amazing. Maybe 1 kilometer long, and 200 meters wide. A bay on one side, the open sea on the other. Everyone lived in small huts along the cove. The fisherman woke at 2:30am every morning, fished, then were back at 9:00am.

The most amazing series of events occurred that day. You’ll have to ask me about it. How they got freshwater was insane. My camera being temporary stolen. Getting hammered in the police station. And This…

Chareet and myself

The next couple of days, I made my way to the ruins and temples area to check out some Dagoba’s built for worshiping Yoda and the Dagoba system. 

Soon enough I found myself bored of the beaches and flooded lowlands, so I made my way into the hill country.

The hill country was absolutely amazing. The valleys and agriculture were so insane. I checked out Kandy, a banff style vacation spot, Nuwara Eliya, the “England” of Sri Lanka, and Badulla, another cool spot amongst the hills. Although, the best part was biking between them. I had to stop every time I went over a hill to stare in awe at the valley’s below me. 

The valleys were so interesting. At the bottom, they would have rice terraces, followed by terraces of different vegetables, then finally, as the altitude climbed, there would be huge tea plantations. The tea plantations covered almost every hill. Sri Lanka is the 2nd largest producer of tea in the world. You might have heard of the brand Ceylon.

Tea Plantations

After I got my fix in the hills, I headed back to Negombo to sit on the beach for 4 days before departing for home. The perfect ending to an amazing 7 months in Asia.

India

I spent 7 weeks discovering Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. They were fantastic but, excluding the wealth of each nation, were similar. Nice people, great food, beautiful scenery, wildlife, and very interesting histories were found in all. 

My next stop had to be completely different. More of a punch to the face. Although, India would give me not just any punch. This punch would be covered in feces. The culture, religion, people, and the rich/poor contrasts were so intense and interesting. Whether it was waking up in the morning to the smell of urine and shit, watching Camels pull loads of materials through busy markets, or witnessing your first public poo on the side of the road, it seemed evident that God had forsaken this country. Although, as soon as you accepted their way of life, the sooner you began to enjoy it. I accepted it early and realized this was the most interesting place I have ever been in my life and one country I know I would be returning to.

Darren and I started in Delhi and hired a driver to take us on a 2 week tour around the province of Rajisthan. We visited many cities, all amazing in their own way.

First things first, our driver, Kumar. He seemed fine at first until this comment.

Kumar: ” Ive taken the last 4 months off work to do drugs.”

Soon after that, he stopped to pick up a bottle of whiskey. Darren and I joined in for one drink on the road. Although, Kumar kept pounding drink after drink.

Kumar’s house after 3/4 of the bottle of whiskey, all to himself

Darren and I considered getting a new driver but decided we would give him a second chance. We made it to Bikaner…alive.

Bikaner Market, one of my favs

After bikaner, we went to Jaisalmer, near the Pakistan border. It was in the middle of the desert and was known for its camel safari’s. We went on one the day we arrived. We rode the camels to watch sunset then went back to the hotel to see a gypsy band perform. They were amazing. Afterwards, we were driven out into the desert and left there to survive the night among the dunes. It was so cool.

LG Baby Video

Could be the picture of the trip. Nicely done Darren

Jaisalmer Fort

Johdpur was next. It was also known as the blue city. Many of the buildings were painted blue. 

Johdpur Market

Udepur was an absolutely stunning city. It was built around man made lakes. The buildings and atmosphere made it one of my favorite cities. 

The best monkeys I’ve seen thus far

Jaipur, the capital of Rajisthan, was known as the pink city. Many of the buildings were pink. We spent 3 days there hanging out. My favorite memory was seeing a Bollywood movie at the famous Raj Mandir Theatre.

Raj Mandir

Jaisalmer 

One of the funniest things i saw there. “OOOO GEEZE, I have so much weight on one side of my stick, how shall I balance it? You, Lady! Come here and sit in my basket!” 

Our final stop with Kumar was the Taj Mahal in Agra. The Taj was my favorite man made structure. It was massive and so beautiful. Really spectacular. You just had to stare…and look confused????

After the Taj, Kumar dropped us off at the train station. We didn’t give Kumar a tip. He wasn’t happy. 

Darren’s and my final stop was Varanasi. This was my favorite city in India. Considered the most spiritual city in the world, Varanasi is to Hindus as Rome is to Catholics. It also happens to the one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. These two aspects made it absolutely amazing. It had everything. An awesome market, great riverside ghat’s, a really interesting old city, burning bodies at the bank of the Ganges……wait, what did I say? It is said to be the most direct path to heaven if you are blessed in the Ganges river then burned on its riverside. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen in my life. Watching a body being brought to the river, washed, then placed on a blazing fire. Insane but so sweet.

ON THAT NOTE, FUN TIME!!!

WHAT COULD THIS BE?????

A MONKEY IT IS THEE

Darren and I were resting one day in Varanasi. I was lying on the bed while Darren beautified himself in the mirror. Suddenly, I saw something in my peripherals. I turned my head and saw a monkey gazing up at me with a mischievous look upon his face. “Darren,” I exclaimed, “there is a monkey in our room.” He turned and gasped and we both began to back away. The monkey, as if he had a strategic plan, picked up my new novel and sauntered out the door onto the porch. We cautiously opened the door and peered out to see the monkey gnawing and destroying the book. Little bastard!

Darren and I then departed. He went on to Kalkata and I went back to Delhi to get a suit made. 

If you want a crazy experience, then India is the place to go.

Cambodia - Siem Reap

I stayed in Laos longer than expected so my Cambodia trip was short. I was only able to see Siem Reap before heading to India. Siem Reap’s main attraction was Angkor Wat, the worlds largest religious building built in the 12th century.

After seeing all the temples and pagodas in Burma and China, I didn’t expect to like Angkor Wat. Although, when I saw it at the crack of dawn, I was taken aback. I spent hours there just looking.

 

There were many other temples in the area. This temple had stone faces on its pillars. Pretty Chili Con Carne! Eh EH

Next stop, India!

Laos, Part 3

My final week in Laos consisted of the Sainyabouri Province, Vientiane, and the Bolaven Plateau.

Sainyabouri Province was incredible. The plains were filled with rice terraces and it had an amazing national park known to inhabit many of the remaining wild elephants.

I drove from Luang Prabang to Sainyabouri the first day. Sainyabouri, the capital of the province, was located in a huge valley surrounded by beautiful rice terraces.

Rice terraces near Sainyabouri

Waterfall near Muang Nan

The next day, I drove to a small town called Nam Pouy, located just North of the Nam Pouy National Park. I got a room at the only hotel in the village. I was the only customer and the family invited me in like I was there distant relative. They fed me a great meal that featured live beetles. They were extremely tasty.  they were sweet, spicy, and had a faint black licorice taste to them. 

Later that evening, I was invited to drink local alcohol that included “Franklin,” a dead, fermented turtle.

Tatooing with 3 young kids at the hotel

The next day, I began my journey on dirt road directly through the national park. Within 20 minutes of driving, I stumbled upon one of my favorite views in Laos. I was at the top of a mountain gazing down into a prehistoric valley. It was amazing. I sat there and thought, “If there was one place on earth where dinosaurs still roamed, It would be here.” Just look at this!!!

NOT SO OUT OF PLACE, EH!!

Entrance of the Nam Pouy National Park

As I drove deeper into the national park, the forest got denser and denser. Soon, I found myself completely immersed in jungle. The air was thick and moist, hundreds of birds were chirping, blossoming fruit hung everywhere, and not a sole was within 20 kms. It could have stayed there for months. 

After 4 hours of paradise, I realized my water supply was out and my tank lay on empty. The day was quickly ending and I started to panic. I kept on driving and finally accepted the fact that I would be spending the night on the side of the road. As the sun began to set, my heart pounded louder and louder. 5:00 pm passed when, out of no where, a man dressed in casual attire popped out of the bushes and saved the day. He wasn’t that intimidating…

By nightfall, I made it to Paklai. The following day, I drove to the capital, Vientiane.

Paklai’s rice terraces

Vientiane was alright. Higher class and flooded with tourists. I bused back to Savannakhet the following day.

I convinced the bus driver to throw my bike up top

I had one night in Savannakhet. I dropped off my bike and saw my old friend Toubye, then headed to Pakse located in Southern Laos.

I had 2 days to spend in the area so, naturally, I rented a motorbike and drove East to Attapu, on the roughest road yet. I had to cross 9 rivers without bridges and drudge through countless mud pits. It was insane. Although, the national park I drove through was quite unique. I saw a wild monkey in the tree tops and saw very different vegetation.

I spent one night in Attapu, then headed back to Pakse on a different route through the Bolaven Plateau. It had some awesome waterfalls.

Bolaven Plateau

After my swim ( Ive lost 17 pounds since August)

With that, my Laos adventure was finished. 

Laos, A simple, remote, paradise.

Laos, Part 2

After Khoun Kham, I spent a night in Paksan, then headed on another sketchy road directly north towards Phonsavan. I drove through dense forest for hours and ended up making a wrong turn. A man informed me I drove all the way into Vietnam. The drive through the mountains and thick forest was worth it. Back tracking took me to a small town called Ta Vien.

The Laos - Vietnam border



Ta Vien holds some of my greatest memories. I arrived in the evening and saw a playground with kids playing volleyball. I jumped off my bike and join them. Within 10 minutes, 50 people came to watch. Afterwards, I met a English teacher, Porvue, who invited me to dinner with his family. He, his wife, and two kids lived in a 6’x6’ hut. His father, of 8 sons(WELL DONE SIR), joined us for our dinner of rice, which was all that could be afforded. I talked with Porvue for hours and brought up the topic of my search for elephants. He enthusiastically told me there was an elephant in the district used in the logging industry. The next morning, the elephant search began.

Porvue



In the small village, the word spread fast that the white guy was going into the forrest to find an elephant. As I prepared for the search, the police got involved. They insisted I could not go into the forest alone…  So, I was forced to pay a police administration fee as well as money for a police escort. All to ensure “problems” could be dealt with. Police in Laos are very corrupt.

My friend Porvue was relieved from work to be my guide. So, Porvue, myself and my pointless police escort began our hike up the mountain. Lucky for us, a logging truck was driving up the road and the policeman ordered him to let us jump on the back.

The logging truck



After hiking for an hour, we finally found the elephant. It was remarkable what the 35 year old female elephant could do with the logs. It could push, pull, roll, and kick logs every which way to get them down the mountain. It was so interesting but also sad. They worked the elephant 10 hrs a day and constantly hit him with huge sticks if she disobeyed. You could hear yelps of pain and anguish coming from the elephant the whole time. Logging companies pay huge amounts of money for elephants. 

Video1

Video2

After that amazing experience in the mountains of Xiangkhoang province, I headed to a larger city in central Laos called Phonsavan. I stayed there one night then headed to Luang Prabang.

A road side Village on the way to Phonsavan

The “plain of Jars” and prairies of Phonsavan

The road from Phonsavan to Luang Probang had the most spectacular scenery in Laos. Imagine being on a top of mountain range and seeing for miles on either side of the road. It was insane. Small villages lined the highway for one reason, the view. It was amazing that people would choose to live in poverty just for a view. But believe me, it was worth it.

Southern view from the road

Northern View from the road



By nightfall, I made it to the famous Luang Prabang. This place was terrible. It was not Laos, at all. It was packed with tourists and was rich and modern, everything Laos wasn’t.

The only good part was meeting two Norwegian brothers, JP and Patrick, both beginning +3 yr trips. We had both been biking through Laos and had common interests. we hit it off and I joined their biker gang for the next couple days. Stand up guys with good hearts.

Patrick and JP



We hit up a waterfall the first day. 

Khouang Si waterfall

The following day, we biked on a dirt road Northeast. They traveled at a good pace making sure not to rush. We stopped at a small hill side village for the night. Patrick, flaunting his glorious smile, convinced a local man to let us tent beside his families hut. He reluctantly agreed. Later in the evening, a policeman came up to the tent, demanded our passports and refused to let us tent there. Again with the police!

The following day, Com Laow, a teacher at the local school, welcomed us to witness the kids writing finals. The school had so little. Not even enough seats for all the students. JP and I did the math test of Year 3 Laos kids (14-15 yr olds). We aced it, no biggey. After lunch and singing twinkle twinkle for all the teachers, I said goodbye to the biker gang and headed back to Luang Prabang.

Classroom

The following day, I had a quick visit with Bryan and Jackie who just so happened to be in L.P., then headed southwest towards Xainyaburi Province. 

Laos

My desperation to escape tourists and truly discover a country was satisfied with Laos. I rented a motorbike and raced through the country for 3 weeks. It was an amazing decision. No itinerary and complete freedom. In the 24 days I was on the road, I drove 3000 km, saw 6 national parks, and met hundreds of people who have never seen a white person before. 

The greatest part was driving in the rural areas of Laos. Most of it was inaccessible  by bus, so I observed untouched Laos villages and landscape. The countryside was stunningly beautiful and the people were so humble and friendly.

My first stop was Savannakhet located in central Laos. I met a guy named Toubey that welcomed me to lunch at the Buddhist temple he lived at. He was very friendly and we had a great time. Thanks Toubey for all the help. After a couple days in Savannakhet preparing, my insane adventure began.

My first stop was Monkey Forest, which held huge colonies of monkeys. There were monkeys, cows, goats, chickens and pigs hanging out harmoniously in a small area. It was a zoo.

Me feeding the monkeys banana’s

This video gives you a better idea of what im talking about.

video

Hahaha I just realized while uploading this. As the commotion begins, a big male comes in from the top right and instead of getting involved, mounts an unsuspecting female. HAHA GENIUS!

Rice patties in Savannakhet Province

I drove East for 2 days visiting the dry Dong Phou Viang national park, and Phou Xang He National park. They were both amazing.

Phou Xang He National Park

I made it to a really cool gold mine town called Vilabouri, east of Savannakhet. I met two locals at a restaurant when I arrived. After some broken English conversations and laughs, they graciously invited me to a Laos wedding that evening. I ate and drank for free and experienced an authentic Laos wedding! It was so interesting. Sun Pan showed me how to dance, Laos style. It consisted of alot of hand twisting, that’s about it haha. I fought the urge to Tecktonik it up.

My friends Sun Pan and Suli Yan

The next day, I drove on a ridiculous dirt road to Mahaxai. The road was hilarious. My map was outdated and I got lost. I ended up driving through a bunch of villages surviving on no power or running water. Most of the villagers had never seen a white person before. Villagers gasped and pointed and children ran screaming for their parents.

Mid morning, I stopped at a small village to get something to eat which proved to be very difficult. the “store” had nothing edible but eggs. So, I pointed and bought 3. I planned on eating them raw in a cup instead of attempting to tell them “over easy,” but before I downed them, the owner screamed refusing to let me. So, they lit me a fire and boiled them. All of this commotion rippled through the village and within 10 minutes, everyone living there came to see the pale alien. It was hilarious. I had over 100 eyes fixed on me while I ate hard boiled eggs.

My eggs and 4 pups craving the heat

A typical house in the area

I kept driving and got even more lost. Finally, a local understood where I wanted to go and pointed down an extremely narrow path in the opposite direction. I obliged and drove down it until I hit a river with no bridge. Shit. Lucky for me, a man fashioned a raft for bike crossings. Haha. He loaded my bike and pulled the raft across. It was so cool and unexpected.

The raft

Soon after, I found the road I should have been on and raced in the direction of Mahaxai. The landscape soon changed and amazing rock formations started jetting out of the earth. They were magnificent.

A small town on the way to Mahaxai

These rock formations surrounded Mahaxai. they were spectacular.

I stayed at a guest house with an owner who spoke English, which was a relief after going days without speaking to anyone. He told me there were still wild elephants in a national park near the Laos-Vietnam border. So the next day I went elephant searching. I convinced a young villager to join me on my search but all we found was elephant poo. but that poo wasn’t the end of my elephant searching.

The following day, I continued north passing two different national parks. I drove through thick forest and passed miles of swamp. The road deteriorated as I drove but after 5 hours of terrible conditions, I found a small village called Khoun Kam to stay at.

A village in the swamps of Nakai-Nam Theun National Park

A wealthy villagers house in the same national park

Misty mountains near Lak Sao

Animal time

Dont let the huge wound, missing eye or pale complexion make you think this water buffalo is dead. But theres more below! haha

Lets say you were a rooster and you weren’t getting enough protein in your diet. Why not eat cow wound???? huh??? Its only natural. He was going at it for a good 10 minutes as I watched and laughed. The water buffalo didn’t budge.

Vietnam, Revamped

After presumably passing our exams, Bryan and I went to Vietnam to celebrate Christmas, New Years and finishing our undergraduate degrees!!!!!! A friend, Scott, from Queens, joined us in the insane Christmas break. We had a great time, as you will see…

We started in the south and made our way to central Vietnam in our 12 day excursion. Beautiful beaches, amazing people, hilarious situations and constant laughing filled our time.

The trio having a little fun at the Cu Chi Tunnels

We started off in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) and headed to Phu Quoc island to spend Christmas. We went to a less touristy area of the island in the south called Bai Sao. I have never seen a beach like this in my life. Beautiful turquoise water and soft white sand. Breathtaking.

The only two hotels, fitted with small bungalows on the beach, were full. So, we stayed at a small unopened hotel just inland. Uncle Lam welcomed us with open arms. He was very friendly, extremely helpful, and absolutely hilarious. Oooo Uncle Lam, the memories, O the memories. “I love burritos. I love smoking the grass and eating burritos.”

On Christmas Eve, we partied with the staff working at one of the hotels on the beach. They spoke very little English but this didn’t stop us from having one of the most memorable Christmas eve’s of our lives.

We also celebrated it with a bunch of new friends. Frank and Hanna, an awesome couple from Germany, thought I was 28. Frank, how I love thee after that comment. Here they are with a local named Gam, I think?

On Christmas day, we went on a full island motorbike adventure. Some of the roads and bridges we crossed were ridiculous. Both Scott and I fell off our bikes. An amazing Christmas.

A beach in Norther Phu Quoc

Our next stop was a beach town in Vietnam called Mui Ne, known for its kite surfing and sand dunes. We spent a couple days there biking around.

We then headed to Dalat, a popular tourist town for local Vietnamese, in the central highlands of Vietnam. It was a very interesting town with unique architecture and great scenery. One of my favorite cities in Vietnam.

The first morning in Dalat, I went to the hospital. That’s right. For the previous couple of days, my right eye felt like something was in it. It was a really interesting and cool experience. The total cost came to $5 including the check up and 5 different medications. Haha!

New Years Eve day we biked outside the city and tried to climb a mountain, right up my alley. Although, 100 meters from the top, it was deemed impossible. We made a nature video on our way up. That will have to wait…

The mountain that defeated us

New Years in Dalat was insane. On a stage In the middle of downtown, different groups sang and danced, a great pre-drink. Afterwards, we headed to a local club where we were local celebrities for our dancing skills and cracker skin. I got shut down by Vietnamese girl from California…..I JUST WANTED A NEW YEARS KISS, COME ON!!!!

We had a quick 8 hr stop in Na Trang on our way north.

There’s always time for monkeys. “Whats that brown stuff on my hand?”

Our final stop was Hoi An, known for its tailors. This town was extremely cool. The buildings were really unique. Although, every second shop, if not more, was a tailor. Bryan and Scott took advantage of this. After 2 days, I parted ways with the guys and headed to Laos.

A Thanks To Hong Kong

Looking back at the last 4 months, I really need to thank everyone that I have met in Hong Kong. All the activities we did together and laughs that were shared has made my exchange an amazing experience.

For everyone I have met at HKU including the exchange students, SWIRE Hall MIF, my traveling buddies, and all the friendly locals, I wish nothing but the best in the future. You have helped me through the months with such kindness. I truly hope our paths cross again in the future. Your always welcome at my home in Canada.

Now, my 4 months of traveling begins. Stay tuned and check up on me whenever you please.

Happy travels!

James

Myanmar

For exam break, instead of studying, Bryan, Maayke, and I headed to Myanmar. Why, you might ask? Thats a great question. I still don’t know. But it turned out great. The culture, people, Buddhist religion, and the country’s economic, political, and social situation were extremely interesting. Its an experience you would only truly appreciate if you visited, which I highly recommend.

We were in the Myan’s for 11 days, which was enough time to see the main tourist sites. We got to see Yangon- the biggest city containing 1 whole high rise, Mandalay- a more rural city in central Myanmar, Bagan- pagoda central, and Inle lake. 

First stop was Yangon. It’s best attribute was the Shwedagon pagoda. It was 2500 years old, 100 meters tall, gold plated, and speckled with over 7000 jewels and rubies. The entrance and surrounding area were astonishing as well. Favorite man made site thus far.

We didn’t waste any time and left to Mandalay that night. The bus station in Mandalay was awesome. It was a dusty packed parking lot with screaming people everywhere. We hired a driver, Damien, to bring us to the sites that day. I decided to motor bike behind. We saw pagoda’s that were insignificant to Shwedagon. 

Our tour bus…

After seeing a bunch of sites with the group, I decided to go on by myself. I biked to a more rural area of Mandalay. It was amazing how the standard of living dropped, even further, just minutes from the center of the city.

A typical dump found everywhere in the area

I then saw one of the most amazing sites I’ve seen in the last 3 months. I ended up on a road beside an inlet of the Ayeyarwady river that was built up on a plateau. Below me on one side were the slums of Mandalay. All that you could be seen was a sea of shanties made from sheet metal and tarps. The other side was surreal. A beautiful river and miles of pristine landscape. The juxtaposition of the slums next to the beautiful landscape was astounding. Complete opposites of each other separated by a small dirt road. It was truly amazing.

As I biked along the road, the river transformed. It started off as rice patties, then changed into a swamp filled with workers, then a fishing spot, till finally a small port connected to the mouth of the river. This added to the incredible experience. 

Rice patties

Swamp

A 5 foot wide bridge I biked over to see a secluded village 

Mouth of the river

The next day, we hit up some sites just outside Mandalay. The only one worth seeing was the U Bein’s Bridge in Amarapura. There were some fantastic views.

A duck hearder, really? or is it pronounced hoarder, and yes he is.

We went to a couple other places afterwards. Meh

The next place we visited was Bagan. The area contained over 4400 Pagoda’s and Stupas. Many up to 1000 years old. It was crazy.

Before Bagan, we passed a town. Here is video of it.

Video

Bagan

LG BABYYYYYY

Video

The next day we hired a driver to bring us to Inle lake. On the way, we stopped at a extinct volcano. The best part of the Volcano were the MONKEYS. MONKEY TIME BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I call this one “But mooooooooooom”

 ”OOOOOOOO A PICKLE!!”

"Hide and Seek"

finally, my favorite monkey. “Horb” or, Hilarious Old Ratty Bastard

Last on our agenda was Inle lake. It’s claim to fame was the floating villages.

The bamboo stakes were used to anchor the floating farms.

The lake, mountains, and dry climate resembled the Okanagan

The best part of the lake was seeing a couple lizards. One was a foot long Tokay Gecko and the other was a Bearded Dragon.

We then headed back to Yangon. All three of us bought big paintings. You’ll have to wait to see them.

The final day, Bryan and I went to a city across Yangon river called Dalah. It was very poor and interesting. We rented motor bikes and drove around the marshes south of the city for the day. It was alot of fun.

The following day we headed back to Bangkok. We were set on hitting up a “Ping Pong” show that night. We made it, along with Maayka. :)

The show was mind boggling. A 25 foot ribbon, a 10 foot chain, razor blades on a string, ping pong balls into a cup, and an acrobatic duo were included in the freak show. Bangkok really is the ass hole of the world; Ugly, dirty with unfriendly people. A real cesspool. I don’t suggest it.

Myanmar notes:

- It is not spoiled by tourism…yet. The sites were still relatively untouched and seeing other foreigners was a rarity. This alone made it better than other places in SE Asia. 

-The Burmese people made the trip that much better. They were so friendly and most knew English so conversation was easy. They wouldn’t try to sell you anything and talked to you because they were genuinely interested and curious. The people were also extremely diverse coming from a wide range of ethnicities.

-There were Monks absolutely everywhere. I feel like half the people I saw in Myanmar were Monks.

-There were no western influences in the country. No 7-11 and no McDonalds. That was a nice change.

-The country may be run by the military but you wouldn’t necessarily know it. There were practically no signs of the regime throughout our stay. 

-There were stray dogs everywhere. They were all shifty.

-Horses were still a big part of transportation. 

-A common job for women was repairing roads. Crushing and spreading stones then applying asphalt, all by hand.

- Everyone chewed something called Betel Nut. It contained lime paste, cloves, coconut, Betel nut, tobacco, and other spices rapped up in a Betel Vine leaf.  It is loved by Burmese men. It is the reason most people’s teeth are rotted out. I tried it out a couple times. My teeth are still off-white :)

- I am slowly gaining a hatred for lonely planet books. Your itinerary will be the same as thousands of other travelers just like yourself. Two of my favorite parts of the trip were not in these books. For serial, just go. its way more fun than planning. Learn from the locals. They know best. Just like you know your country best.

Politics in Myanmar

I had a talk with an owner of a hotel in Yangon. He eagerly but cautiously told me about the military rule. He really wanted me to spread the word to increase awareness overseas. So, these are for him.

I came back to my hotel one day and the power was off. I asked what was up and the owner explained that it was a normal occurrence. He told me how the government could care less about the power outages. Therefore, every business needed a gas generator to maintain power throughout these frequent blackouts. He explained if he or any owner complained, the government would make their life a living hell.  If he were to complain, the following year when he wanted to renew his hotel license, the government would refuse unless he paid an exorbitant amount of money.

There has been conflict between the Monks and the government recently. Beatings and killings have been occurring as a result of demonstrations put on by Monks. This is what the juvenile government did to stick it to them. In Yangon, motor bikes are forbidden expect for government officials. Since the fighting, they painted all the bikes the color of the Munks robes. I got so pissed off. Extremely disrespectful and humiliating.

He told me how cunning the government has been in the past. One clever tactic was decentralizing the university to ensure no student protests could occur. When the government first gained power, Yangon’s central university was closed and 4 new universities were built all outside the city connected by bridges or single roads. How clever! Now students could not organize and protest in great numbers. Even if they did, the bridges and roads could easily be blocked. 

He told me about Aung San Suu Kyi and her future in Burma. His opinion was she has lost all of her power she once had. He believed the government was now too strong for her to start any sort of revolution. He also explained how she will have government agents and spy’s following her for the rest of her life. He concluded with telling me that If myself or him went to talk to Aung San Suu Kyi, the police would be arresting him and deporting me.

An extremely interesting country!