Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Oppression-3, Democracy-1

In about 10 days we head off to China.  We realized that of the four countries that we will have been to only one has a government elected by the people, for the people.

Which do you think it is?

A. Thailand
B. Lao
C. China
D. Myanmar

If you chose B, or the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao, you are correct.  Although the people of Thailand are getting more than a little ticked off by the current detour from democracy and I think that general what’s his name is realizing that running a country is more difficult than he expected. 

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April 30, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Craptastic Postcards

A few of you lucky individuals will soon be receiving postcards from Myanmar.  Francie and I really have to apologize for this dubious honor because the postcard choices in Myanmar where abysmal (which meant that those little kids just had to try and sell them that much harder).   I suspect that the Myanmar government (in their infinite wisdom) decided to allow an artistically challenged nephew to take the photographs because they are about as drab as a Texas strip mall. 

indirect effects of oppression

April 30, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, SE Asia, Travel | 2 Comments

Big Greg, Smaller Greg

I took a picture of two of my passport/visa photos–the first from Oct. 2005 and the second from a few months ago.  Here they are side by side.

super size me

Look at that big boy on the left!  In my defense, that was right when we were shipping the Xbox 360 and exercise had fallen by the wayside. 

The right photo is from two months ago–I weighed myself on the scales (below) at the Mandalay Airport and I was about 168 pounds. 

I think these scales were left by the British Empire and are now primarily used to weigh their #1 export, opium (just a little joke there–about the British, not about the opium).
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April 30, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, SE Asia, Travel | 4 Comments

Kalaw, Myanmar

We are in the Burmese hill country which is much cooler than Bagan (80 degrees).

One interesting thing about Kalaw is that there are a number of Indian and Nepali families here–many who came as scouts or workers with the British army after WWI.

There is a lot of British architecture and two great places to eat. It is a nice town so we are staying here a while.  We are staying at the Golden Kalaw which has a nice view down into the town.  $8 a night.  Sweet.  We have also found some great deals in the market and have met some people from one of the Ruby mines.  Burma is one of the places with the best Rubies and Jade.  More on all this later.  Don’t worry–we weren’t scammed into buying some Rubies.

Tomorrow we are going hiking for two days to a famous viewpoint and to see two caves with paintings on the walls from the Bronze Age (about 6000 years ago).

Francie just beat me in Scrabble by 200 points.  It makes me sad.  I would just go read a book but we have exhausted all the English books we brought with us.  I finished Beloved, Seabiscuit and History of Love on this trip.

April 24, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

113 and 104

It was 113 freakin degrees yesterday.  In the words of The Breeder’s…‘that’s hot’.

It was also 104 days ago that we left the U.S.  It snuck up on us.  Someone owes us $50 bucks.  Tom you probably don’t remember being intoxicated at the Bus Stop saying ‘I’ll pay you fifty bucks if you make it 100 days’.  Just kidding, but I know you were thinking it.

April 21, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar | 2 Comments

Modes of travel in Myanmar

Myanmar is transport challenged.  You have many options-many that haven’t been seen in the United States since about 1909.

You have the good ol’ tried and true ‘walking’–sometimes while carrying things on your head.
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You have the bicycle–another tried and true option.
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You have the trishaw.  Relative to the rickshaw but this is a bicycle (see previous entry) but also sports a sidecar (not the drink) that can carry two riders (back to back).  Here is Joe and Francie.
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There is also the horse and cart.  A popular option back in the US circa 1909 or in the Amish country. 
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There is also the very, very small Mazda taxi.  These blue vehicles where probably purchased from Russia in about 1978 (after being sold by Japan to Russia in 1966). Width is about 4 feet. It reminds me of the small car the main character drives from the movie ‘Brazil’.
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April 21, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, SE Asia, Travel | 2 Comments

Impressive Bagan

Here is one picture for you.  Bagan is a very old site of primarily Buddhist temples from around 1200 AD.  Here is one picture that made it up on the site.

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This is the destination that really temps people to travel to Myanmar.  People have heard of Yangon/Rangoon because of that famous Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil line about him growing up spending summers in Rangoon.  And Mandalay, well everyone has seen the motion picture company called Mandalay with the tiger as its image or maybe even remember the Alfred Hitchcock movie ‘Rebecca’ where everyone repeats ‘Oh, Mandalay’ all the time.

But it is Bagan that will be the destination site when the people rise up and overthrow this group of eighth grader generals who managed this coup.  Oh, did I say that outloud?

BTW, check out the Flickr pictures on the right.

April 21, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, SE Asia, Travel | 2 Comments

Internet trouble in Myanmar

Greg and I have all these great photos and tales to tell, but the internet in myanmar does not cooperate.  It is “down” half the time and the other half of the time the power is out.  And the 2% of the time when its working and the power is not out (e.g. right now), it is v. v. slow.  Greg has spent the last 40 minutes trying to upload one photo to flickr.  So yáll might have to wait till we get back to Bangkok to see most of the antics we’ve been up to.  Here’s a sneak peak at what you have to look forward too if you are patient:

  • Photos of Francie riding an Ox.
  • The “off the hook” water festival in Yangon and Mandalay.
  • Temples of Bagan.
  • Many many photos of adorable children. (and who doesn’t like photos of adorable children???)
  • Photos of Greg with his face painted streaking through the Royal palace in Mandalay.  (ok, just kidding about that one 🙂 )

Likewise with email – it’s been a challenge to respond to messages but we’ll get back to all yáll as soon as we can.  Have a lovely day.

April 21, 2007 Posted by | Myanmar, SE Asia, Travel | 1 Comment

The PS2, 25 cents an hour, and Capitalism

I think that everyone knows my feelings about Sony (did I hear someone yell ‘liars’?) and the Playstation game consoles but…

We are at an Internet cafe in Bagan (there are very few of these in Myanmar).

The people here started a business a year ago with one PS2 and a copy of Winning Eleven. They charged locals about 25 cents an hour to play. The entire extended family had to pool their money to purchase the PS2. Now they have built that one PS2 into six PS2 units and this small internet cafe. Amazing. I am sure this makes them one of the richest families in the area.

I asked the guy if he liked Winning Eleven and he said he is horrible at it and, instead, likes Guitar Hero (even though they don’t have guitar accessories). As celebration of their one year anniversary they had a Winning Eleven tournament with first prize being 50,000 Kyat–that’s $45. Wow.

April 17, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Sights and Sounds of Yangon

We had an amazing night here in Yangon.  We ventured out to a teashop and ate at a Chinese night market with another American named Shea. 

 Here is the tea and snacks we ate at the teashop.
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A view of the city as we walked to Chinatown.
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This monk stopped us and wanted to know where we were from.  When he found out we were Americans he was very excited.  We were the first Americans he has ever met and we talked to him for about 15 minutes.
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At one of the stalls this yellow watermelon was for sale.  We bought and ate some for 50 cents.  Not quite as sweet as the red variety.
Yellow watermelon!

Shea had drank in Chinatown a few nights before so that’s where we went–at Kawt, Kawt Resturant.  This cool colonial building was across the street.
Colonial building

We had a few ‘Myanmar’ beers.
Burma beer

This was a great people watching place.  Nuns stopped by and asked for Alms.
Nuns

Many street boys stopped by to chat.  We ended up giving this one our watergun (the water festival begins tomorrow).
street boy

I was also pretty fascinated by these bicycles.  I wonder how old they are?
Bicycle on street

And at the end of the evening we had kind-of-lame ice cream.
Ice Cream

Oh, Francie has a few more things to tell you about in the post below!

April 12, 2007 Posted by | burma, Myanmar, Photography, SE Asia, Travel | Leave a comment