A Travellerspoint blog

Myanmar

fly to Rangoon

as it was called then

sunny 32 °C
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Thursday 10th January 1985

Up early for 10.30 flight, check in nearly last, at 9.30am. Start sneezing on plane and arrive in Rangoon one hour later with streaming cold. It is 90° in the shade. Escorted through customs by helpful local in a sarong, he wants my whiskey and cigarettes. Complete money declaration form and smuggle in a cassette player. I am first through as I have no baggage.
Exchange duty free booze in the taxi for 430C with free ride worth 15C. Share taxi with mad middle aged German called Zotte.
Straight to Tourist Burma to book hard seat overnight train to Thazi. Then reconfirm return flight. Spend afternoon sweating and drinking in Rangoon. Buy 10 dispirin. Everyone wants to do ‘business’.

The train leaves Rangoon station with a delightful quaint but perfect english announcement “Good Evening and welcome to the Mandalay Express...” express is relative to the usual trains, we surge through the night at a stately 35mph. My neighbour opts for the floor so I try to fit on the seat horizontally, but its too short.

Posted by 1985 trip 21:07 Archived in Myanmar Comments (0)

by jeep to Inle lake in Burma

Myanmar


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Friday 11th January 1985
Floating village

Floating village


Arrive Thazi 6am Find pickup truck to Taunggi, fare 30C, after about one hour we have enough people and we are off. I have an oily chapati with bean paste for breakfast.. Fall asleep for a lot of the bouncy journey squeezed in and propped up by my neighbours. Lucky I’m last on and sitting on the tailgate, which is cool and comfy on some rice sacks. Beautiful mountain road. Arrive Taunggi after 5 hours.
Get jeep to Inle lake. This large fresh water lake is 1000m above sea level and outrageously picturesque. Check in to only hotel the Inle Inn at 15C a night, share with 50 year old Japanese called Tee.
Mr Compleat performs some excellent Burmese dancing after dinner of pig liver and noodles. Freezing shower and cold night wearing everything.
Inle lake

Inle lake

Inle lake

Inle lake

Posted by 1985 trip 16:00 Archived in Myanmar Comments (0)

Leg rowing fishermen

Inle lake Burma

sunny 26 °C
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Saturday 12th January 1985

Trip around the lake today for 30C with 7 others, takes 5 hours. Get sun burnt and leave my only pair of shoes behind at a floating pagoda. See the leg rowing fisherman and lungi weaving etc. in the floating villages.Inle lake

Inle lake


Jeep to Taunggi in the evening and check into unauthorised hotel with Lamut from Holland and Nobby from Switzerland. Worry about having no shoes.
Burma road trip

Burma road trip

Posted by 1985 trip 16:00 Archived in Myanmar Comments (0)

Pick up truck to Pagan

long journey on a tailgate and a sack of flour

sunny 30 °C
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Sunday 13th January 1985
The Road to Pagan

The Road to Pagan

Breakfast on cake and chinese tea, catch pick up truck after betel nut pick-me-up to Mechela, ride on the tail gate with 3 others and a sack of flour. Lamut gets off at Thazi. No transport to Pagan at Michela, but get one going some of the way for 10Chat. Meet with a tour jeep and initially they are off hand, but some people don’t turn up so we get a lift for 10C a piece. Get covered in dust. Crazy journey, takes until late at night to reach Pagan.

burma6.jpg

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in Pagan 1985

exploring the abandoned temples by bicycle

sunny 29 °C
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Monday 14th January

Pagan temples

Pagan temples

The Burmese are great fun, always greet you with a smile and a wave, even strangers in the street. They smear sandal wood paste on their cheeks and the men wear lungis rather than trousers. The pattern, like a tartan, reveals family origins.

Snout around some of the several thousand temples that dot this landscape. One still active temple resplendent in its golden coat, has a little peekaboo puddle of water in a certain spot, get down on your knees and peer at the surface, lo and behold the shimmering Schwezegon. Get around on bicycles. Enjoy exploring the ruins and finding the little staircases that lead to the top, usually these are within the larger walls.The mighty Irrawaddy at Pagan

The mighty Irrawaddy at Pagan

Heard a couple of horror stories the other day. One girls air-con Chang Mai bus was shot at. Two passengers were wounded, but the driver sped on so at least they weren’t robbed. Nigel from the UK was on a bus to Surat Thani, a couple of Thais fill up the bus next to him, they are eating biscuits, Custard Creams, and offer him one. He doesn’t remember much else, until he got back to Weekender bungalow, via the police, he was robbed of his camera.
pagan1.jpg

Posted by 1985 trip 05:24 Archived in Myanmar Comments (0)

barter for a lacquer table

near Pagan


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Tuesday 15th January 1985
Lacquer craft village near Pagan

Lacquer craft village near Pagan

Set off for small village south of Pagan. Delightful, dust, pigs, bamboo, buffalo, kids, paper kites, women at wells. Spend too long sussing out the laquerware, this is where a lot of it is made. Eventually buy a hexagonal folding table for 2 fake Lacoste shirts. 1 packet cigarettes, 2 lipstick and my small plastic shoulder bag. Only just get back to Pagan in time to throw everything into my rucksack and jump on the jeep to Thazi.
Have a jovial ride with Nobby some Germans and Burmese.
lacquer village

lacquer village


At Thazi railway station meet the owner of Chinese restaurant we ate at in Taunggi, on his way to Rangoon but on the slow train. He takes a crowd of us to a place he knows, but I am already ensconced in the railway cafe, have a large plate of sweet and sour pork. Dark skinned, cachectic, shoe polish black dyed hair, Burmese Railway engineer sits down for a chat. He knows more about UK and foreign affairs than I do and has an excellent command of English. He fears my praise for his happy country are just platitudes, (and of course I am truly ignorant of these things).

We all spread out along the platform in the hope of getting a seat each. Most of us find one. I opt to go under the seat and spread my foam mat out. Two hours later I am honking my guts up over a hole in a cupboard floor, the train toilet. Take two temazepam and although queasy manage to sleep erratically for the rest of the journey, also remain continent, just. Feel awful, damn that sweet and sour pork.

The table in 2012

The table in 2012

Posted by 1985 trip 05:31 Archived in Myanmar Comments (0)

ill in Rangoon

stay in YMCA


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Wednesday 16th January 1985

Struggle through Rangoon to the YMCA feeling very feeble, collapse into bed on the top floor with the ceiling fan lurching around above me. Nobby and Tee catch the afternoon flight so we exchange addresses.
Lunch stop

Lunch stop

Get up during the day for shit shower shave, drink a few lime juices and eat some fresh yoghurt. Feel useless and nauseated all day. In the evening make an attempt to sell Walkman for dollars, but I must look like death as everyone keeps away. One of the Germans exchanges his for a large traditional puppet. A Dutch guy moves into my room and tells some horrible tale about an air ticket disaster and being arrested in the Punjab for being there. Sell my Burma guide for 10HK$, what a bargain!
Sorry to miss exploring Rangoon.

Posted by 1985 trip 05:33 Archived in Myanmar Comments (0)

ducking and diving at Rangoon airport

fly back to Bangkok

sunny 32 °C
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Thursday 17th January

Schwedagon stupa Rangoon

Schwedagon stupa Rangoon

Up at 5.30am to catch the free bus that traverses Rangoon and eventually ends up at the airport. Some creep carries my rucksack 10yds and wants some Chat. I give him an earful of chat he didn’t want. Spend last few chat instead on breakfast and tea. Pass through check in, immigration, customs & currency control without any hassle. I just had to show the camera I declared on entry. My official currency form, which had to be marked every time I changed money, was remarkable for its lack of entries. Smuggle the walkman out of the country having smuggled it in. Check-in refused to let me take my little rucksack as hand luggage, but this was not a big issue has I helped myself to it moments later at customs. The whole departure lounge is basically one large room and you proceed from desk to desk. Getting my luggage back saved a lot of time at Bangkok which was heaving with two recently arrived jumbos.

Meet two drunk Iranians in the airport and share a few pistachios and jokes about crazy Khomeni.

Stop off at Huallampong rail station by stunning use of bus map and buy ticket to Sungai Kolok for Sunday. Second class seat 390B. Guess there must be a cheaper way but these ‘International Express’ trains don’t do 3rd class. Still not hungry but drink plenty and enjoy an ice-cream. Bangkok’s dairy is a Danish concern and very reliable, pasteurised milk is readily available everywhere.

Posted by 1985 trip 05:38 Archived in Myanmar Comments (0)

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