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Reisverslag On the road to Mandalay
9 mei 2015
On the road to Mandalay
And what place better suited to write about the British Empire than Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo of old), the old summer hang-out of the Raj in Burma. Walking along its roads you can still admire the British cottages and a multitude of shops sell locally produced tea and strawberries, both introduced by the British. High above the blistering hot streets of Mandalay, Pyin Oo Lwin is situated at the edge of the Shan Plateau. A cool breeze blows in the pine trees and the countryside is dotted with small tribal villages and stunning waterfalls (I swam in a pool under one yesterday).
Traveling northwards over the Shan Plateau was a great experience. It still surprises me how a difference in altitude of 1000 m can make such a difference in temperature. Instead of the sweaty heat on the blistering plains below, the plateau has temperatures around 30 degrees - agreeable summer weather.
It is interesting to see how Myanmar is coping with the rapidly growing influx of foreign tourists. At Inle Lake tourism is now becoming big bussiness, with a multitude of resorts and handicraft shops lining the lake shores. On the other hand, there are plenty of towns and villages that remain undiscovered. There people are still pleasantly surprised to see a foreigner and try to talk and greet you. An example is Pindaya, where I stayed two nights to visit a famous cave stuffed with thousands of buddha statues. I also did a two day trek near the hill resort of Kalaw, to excercise. My physical condition is still nowhere near when I left the Khumbu 2 years ago, but the hiking went easier than I had imagined. I cannot wait to see real mountains again!
What makes me really happy though is the experience of traveling unplanned, without a clear goal for the day and only a direction in mind. In Myanmar it is easy to flag down any vehicle that goes in the right direction, but you never know how far it will take you or how uncomfortable your journey will be. This randomness does not give me stress but rather a feeling of complete freedom that I have missed a lot during the past two years. My favourite mode of traveling is sitting on the roof of an overly full vehicle, from where you can observe both countryside and oncoming traffic. Sometimes I get farther than I anticipated, sometimes less far, but it does not matter. Sometimes I find a place interesting enough to stay and halt my journey for a day or so.
Slowly I get farther north, closer to a border I have longed to cross since I was 19. As shortly ago as late 2012 I was in Imphal, on the other side, to find out it was still hermetically closed. And now I travel in the opposite direction - westward. Which means I have now traveled the entire distance from London to Singapore overland over two routes (one over Mongolia and China, one over Iran and India). Crossing still requires a special permit, but I believe this is a left-over from former restrictions that will soon be scrapped, although someone in the ministry may keep it in place for the time being because of its lucrativity.
Thanks for reading everybody. I hope my next blog will be from Mizoram!
18 mei 2015 20:50 | Door: hanny
Heerlijk om te lezen.... ik geniet mee