Myanmar (Burma) 2013

By Don Chesnut
Copyright by Don Chesnut 2013 [chesnut<at>uky.edu]


Ladies carrying pottery
I went to Myanmar (Burma) to see the southern part of Burma, a part that I had not seen before. I had visited Myanmar in 2008 but had only visited the northern half. The following is composed of my daily journal entries and photographs taken during the trip (please excuse the tedious and poorly-written nature of the journal). You may rather go through the thumbnail catalog (pages B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J).

The previous part of my trip to Thailand

20 July 2013 Saturday


I started packing because today is a travel day for me. I also typed out my journal and sent out some e-mail entries.

At 10:30 I checked out. I waited in the lobby area until my prepaid ride came. The taxi took me to the departures area of the Koh Samui airport. The layout is very interesting and casual. I was issued my boarding pass not only for my flight to Bangkok, but also for my international flight to Yangon. This makes it much easier, I don't have to exit the security area to get my next pass. It's the same airlines for both flights. I walked along a series of shops along a very pleasant walkway to my next terminal building. More airports should be built like this. I had plenty of time so I stopped at an Irish bar and had a Singha while I filled out my journal.

I went through security and to my gate area by 12:45. Free food was provided at the gate. I had three squares of mushroom pizza and one piece of cassava-coconut sweet. Free coffee, etc. was available as well.

Everything was nice except for the boarding procedure. People arrived on trolleys from several terminals for the same plane. Some groups were led to the front of the plane and others to board from the back, regardless of seat number. I was in row three, but entered from the back and had to fight my way against the flow to the front of the plane. By that time, all the overhead storage had been filled. I crammed my red pack in anyway. They need a little more thought in the way they board these flights.

We were served a snack even though the flight was not very long. It was duck, shrimp, noodles, bread, cut fruit, juice, a cake of some sort and I had tea. I didn't eat the cake or drink the juice. We landed at a cloudy Bangkok about 3:15. I had a special sticker on my shirt that allowed me to get into an international transfer area because I had already gone through passport control in Koh Samui. I still had to go through security again but there was no line and it was fast. I got to my gate area. The Bangkok airport is very nice and there are many shops and restaurants. I filled out my journal and waited for my flight to Yangon. A piece of paper was taped onto the gate counter saying that the flight is delayed 45 minutes. We actually boarded about an hour late. A trolley took us to the plane and we boarded helter skelter as before. No order whatsoever. After the plane took off we were served noodles, fish and mushroom dish, mushroom salad and a cake-like thing (which I didn't eat). I had hot tea for drink. We landed an hour late but it was still daylight. The time here is one-half hour later than Thai time. I went through immigration control (passport), and then changed some dollars to Myanmar chats. I then went through customs and baggage x-ray and walked out the exit. It was dark by the time I walked out. I was relieved to see a placard with "Pandaw Cruises" on it. I went up to the young man holding the placard and I told him my name. He had waited over an hour for my flight. It was raining hard. This is monsoon season (June to November). We took a 45 to 60 minute drive to the jetty holding Pandaw 2 boat (Pandaw website). The young fellow said to call him Edward but his real name is long, but ends in "Hey," so I called him "Hey."

I got to the boat a little wet and was told that everyone was in the Saloon. I walked in the well-lit room in my wet clothes and backpack. Everyone was dressed nicely except for me. I was the last arrival. The gong was rung and we all walked to the dining room, me with my wet clothes and pack. I still didn't have a room. I did see a purer and a waiter that I recognized from previous trips and they remembered me as well. I sat at a table of Aussies, all from Brisbane. They were all very friendly. I was shown a menu of three entree selections to choose. I chose beef curry. I was served two deep-fried prawn tempura with sweet chili sauce for appetizer, potato-mushroom soup, bread, beef curry, and a dessert of mango sliced with sweet-sticky rice ball. I had house red wine for drink.

Our table broke up after some conversation, about 9:30. I was given my room key and I went there. I brushed my teeth and filled out my journal and went to bed. I was very tired. From a quick survey of the people in the dining room, I figured that I was one of the younger ones, as opposed to the last tour. About half are Aussies from Brisbane who largely came together.

21 July 2013 Sunday

The jetty was fairly busy all night long. The engines of the Pandaw started up about 5:30 and we pulled away and went upstream along the Rangoon River. We take the Rangoon up to the Twante Canal which connects to the Irrawaddy River. I got up at six, took a shower and my malaria pills. I then went to the Sun Deck (upper deck). I had a couple of cups of strong coffee and watched the river go by.
About one-half to two-thirds of the passengers are from Australia, mostly from Brisbane. Nineteen of these are members of a Brisbane geographic society and they do a lot of travels together. There are two sisters from Switzerland traveling together, a German man and his new Thai wife, and a couple from Pennsylvania. The three of us are the only Americans.

At about 8:30 we docked at a town called Twante village. We made an hour walking excursion in the heavy rain through the various markets. I got a betel nut packet and chewed on it the whole time. I saw lots of bamboo baskets, vegetables, fruit, clothing, tea houses, and little food preparation shops. I took lots of photos but I'm not sure how they will turn out with all the rain and misting on my lenses.This is monsoon season. The people were very friendly and always smiled. I said "Mingelabah" (hello and goodbye) and they would always smile and return the greeting.
We went back on board at ten. I took a shower and then sat on the Sun Deck talking to the other passengers. At 1 pm we all went down to lunch. I had a very nice mushroom and glass noodle soup and I added crushed roasted chilies, cilantro, lime, and fish oil. I also had some carrot and mushroom salad with deep fried corn (very good). For entree I had pork stuffed with plums and a nice sauce. I had a Myanmar beer for drink.
About 2:30 we pulled into Maubin city. We started our shore excursion at 3 after we tied up. It was raining again so we all carried Pandaw umbrellas. I took photos as usual and got a video of four fellows playing chinlone. This is a game where a woven bamboo ball, about 4 or 5 inches across, is kicked back and forth to the various players. More complicated kicks earn higher points, I think.
I went back on board the boat at 4 and back to my cabin. I took another shower as well. I changed shirts and went to the Sun Deck. I had a gin and tonic and filled out my journal. At 4:45 we pulled out of Maubin and went up the river. We continued up the Twante Canal where we will connect with the Irrawaddy Delta.
At 7 pm, we had a briefing in the Saloon about tomorrow's activities. Shortly after that, dinner was served in the dining room. I had a glass noodle salad, cream of cauliflower soup, mutton curry with steamed rice, banana mousse with cake and wine for drink.

After dinner I went to the Saloon and talked for a bit before I returned to my room. I brushed my teeth and filled out my journal and went to bed shortly after ten.

22 July 2013 Monday

I woke up at 5:30 and got up at 6. I took a shower and took my pills. I went to the Sun Deck and had a couple of cups of coffee and watched the villages, farms and stupas go by. At 7, I went down for breakfast. I had made-to-order omelet with cheese and vegetables, bacon, toast, croissant, pineapple and coffee. I sat down next to an Australian couple who had a tube of Vegemite. They offered some to me and I put it on my toast and croissant. Pineapple is in season now so we will have lots of fresh pineapple on this trip.
After breakfast I went to my room and sat on a deck chair just outside my room and filled out my journal. We docked at Danauphyu about 9:30 and we went ashore. We each got on a trishaw. We rode to a monastery and to a temple complex. We wound through the streets for about 2 hours. Today is the first day of Buddhist Lent and the shops and schools are closed so all the kids and people were out to watch us as we were pedaled down the streets. Everyone was very friendly and quick to smile and say "Mingelabah." Burma is one of the friendliest and happiest countries I have been to. Anyway, it didn't rain the whole time we were ashore, although it was hot and humid. We got back to the boat about 11:30. I tipped my driver 2000 chats and he was very happy.
I went back on board the boat and took another shower. I went to the Sun Deck and had a Myanmar beer with some of my fellow travelers. At one pm, the lunch gong was rung. I had a salad plate with fresh bread, blue cheese, a variety of salad materials, etc. I went to the cook line. There was a choice between three or four styles of noodle dishes, Singapore, Hong Kong (Chinese), Padh Thai, and Myanmar home-made noodles. I chose the Myanmar noodles. It came with a fairly dry sort of chicken curry with a lot of herbs to add. With the other styles of noodle dishes, one could pick out which meats you wanted cooked and added to the noodles. I sat next to Peter, a German travel writer and Asian tour operator. He grew up in Karlsruhe and had a degree in geology. He then changed to ethnography because he was interested in cultures and this brought him to Thailand. He has a Thai wife and a grown child. He told me he was doing research and was going to write an article about this trip.

After lunch I went to the Sun Deck to fill out my journal. Then I took my computer to the Sun Deck and started typing it out. At three we were supposed to start a demonstration, but a storm squall passed through. Instead, we went to the Saloon and had a demonstration about longyi (Wikipedia entry). It is pronounced "long-ghee" (hard g) in India and "long-jee" (soft g) in Burma. Daniel also gave a demonstration of thanaka, the paste that Burmese put on their faces. It is ground from the bark of a special tree. A grinding stone--usually sandstone--  is used and water is added as the wood is rubbed on the stone. The paste is applied to the face to keep the skin healthy and as make-up.
After the demonstration I went to the Sun Deck to continue my typing but the wind was still blowing a very light rain through the canopy. I gave up on the typing and had conversations instead.

At 7, we had a briefing about tomorrow's activities in the Saloon. At 7:30, the gong was rung and we all went to diner. I had two spring rolls, a nice creamed corn(?) soup, and Butter Fish with dill sauce (excellent and very tender). A small cake was served for dessert. I had red wine to drink. I sat next to the Pennsylvanian couple, and Hans and his very nice new Thai wife (Tanya?), Reichardt the Austrian and his Australian wife, and Andrea? from Australia. We had a lot of conversation, but I was becoming very tired. After dinner, I went back to my room at 9:10. I filled out my journal, brushed my teeth and went to bed.

23 July 2013 Tuesday

I woke up at 5:30 and got up at 6. I took a shower, brushed my teeth and took my pills. I went to the Sun Deck and had two cups of coffee and watched the sights along the river. The water is high (this is monsoon season) and many farm fields are flooded. There is a lot of activity, however. Fishermen are tending their nets and fish traps along the shore.
At about 7:30, I went to the Dining Room for breakfast. I had omelet with everything in it, bacon, white-bread toast, croissant, papaya, honeydew melon, and coffee. I also had Vegemite on the toast, thanks to the Australian couple.

After breakfast, I filled out my journal and took my computer to the Sun Deck to type out my journal.

At about 10:30 Daniel gave a presentation and demonstration about setting up home altars for Buddha and for the spirits. Daniel is a Christian. His mother was a Christian from India and his father was a Buddhist from Myanmar. His siblings are Buddhist.
At 1 pm, the lunch gong was rung. I had a variety of salads including wooden ear and green bean, deep-fried bean and flat vegetable with dressing, okra and other vegetables plus fresh-baked bread (all the bread is fresh baked). I was served a nice cream of garlic soup. I ordered baked Butterfish wrapped in banana leaf flavored with lemongrass. I had Andaman beer for drink. For dessert we had some sort of nice egg custard.

At 2:30 we pulled into Myanaung city. After we tied up we went for a walk for about two hours. We took umbrellas, but it never rained. The cloud cover kept the temperature down to about 92 degrees F, but it was very humid. I took a number of photos as we walked along the streets. Once again, the people were very friendly.
I went back to the Pandaw and immediately took a shower. After the shower, I went to the Sun Deck, had a Myanmar beer and filled out my journal. We pulled out at five and headed back up the river.
At 6:30, we had a briefing in the Saloon about tomorrow. At 7:30, the dinner gong was rung. I sat at a small table for four. We were served an eggplant salad, bread, and I picked the chicken dish which was a chicken cake with ginger and other spices and with a dressing. We had a semolina dessert and I had red wine for drink.

The Pandaw tied up on the bank. Bamboo stakes were driven into the bank and a thick rope was attached to the stake cluster. An anchor may have been dropped for the rear, but I'm not sure about that.

After dinner, I went to my cabin and flossed and brushed. I filled out my journal and went to bed by 9:15.

24 July 2013 Wednesday

I woke up about 5:30 and got up at 5:50 when the engines started. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, and took my pills. I went up on the Sun Deck for a coffee. At about 7:30, we pulled up to a sandstone cliff (Akauk Taung with many bas relief carvings of Buddha. Most of these were carved in the 19th century, so they are not very old. We could see them quite well from the boat while the pilot kept the boat even with the carvings (even though there was a strong current). The guide said that the carvings were in limestone, but it was actually in sandstone. There were nice crossbeds (some of these were trough crossbeds). We also saw an owl flying back and forth across the cliff face. Someone said it was a barn owl. After half an hour we pulled away and continued upstream.
I went to breakfast and had an omelet with everything, white toast and croissant with Vegemite (thanks to the Australian lady), french toast, bacon and coffee.

After breakfast, I went to the Sun Deck and filled out my journal. After talking for awhile, I went to my room and typed out my journal.

We pulled into the large town of Pyay (also known as Prome) around noon. We docked close to the brand new Katha Pandaw, one of the small boutique boats. We went to lunch at 1 pm. I had a nice lentil soup, soft blue cheese, bread, four types of salad, vegetable curry, chicken with a sort of BBQ sauce, fish with tomatoes and bell peppers, and steamed rice. I had Andaman beer for drink. It was all excellent and I told the chef that. After lunch, I filled out my journal.
At 2:30, we began our shore excursion. We left the boat and boarded a large air-conditioned bus. We drove through Pyay and visited the 5th to 8th century city of Thiri-ya-kittiya, a large archaeological site of the Pyu culture (5th to 9th centuries). We visited the museum (photos not allowed). We went to one of the large stupas (over two thousand years old) in the area as well and walked clockwise around it. We went back to town to visit the Shwe-San-Daw Pagoda. It is a little like Shwedagon in Yangon. Most everyone took the elevator, two others and I walked up the steps. I took photos as usual. We reboarded the bus and went back to the Pandaw by 5:15.
I went to my cabin and took a quick shower and filled out my journal. I then joined the others at the Sun Deck. I talked with the others and watched the stupas and temples go by.
At 6:30, I went to the briefing in the Saloon. At 7, the gong was rung and we went to the dining room. I sat next to Peter and a lady from Australia. She had a lot of interesting travel stories. We were served samosas with a dipping sauce, a cream of mushroom soup, and I ordered a satay sampler of pork and chicken for my entree. For dessert, we had a small cup of mousse and slices of watermelon. I had red wine to drink. It was a good meal, as usual.
I was very tired after dinner and went directly to my cabin. I brushed my teeth and filled out my journal. The Pandaw docked or anchored at 9, about the time I went to bed.

25 July 2013 Thursday

I woke up about 5, but got up about 5:45 when the engines started. We pulled out from where we were moored. I took a shower, brushed my teeth and took my malaria pills. I went to the Sun Deck and spent about 1.5 hours watching the villages and farms go by. I saw a bunch of weaver birds and their many nests. I also saw a couple of coucals. Everyday we see egrets, herons, crows, mynas, House sparrows, cormorants, swallows, etc., but occasionally, we see other birds.
I went down to breakfast at 7:30 and had an omelet with everything, two croissants with Vegemite, papaya, roasted tomato, bacon, sweet roll and coffee.

After breakfast, I went to my cabin and filled out my journal. I also cleaned the lense of my camera and glasses.

We docked at Thayet Myo about 8:30. We began our shore excursion about 9:00. A line of pony carts was waiting. We walked a short distance to a market. I took a few photographs. Daniel and I went to a tea shop and I had sweet milk tea (condensed milk) and a small bun. Several others joined us later. I walked around the market a bit more and then at 10:30 the pony carts arrived. We boarded two to a cart. I rode with Maggie a Scot-Australian lady. It rained off and on throughout the excursion, but not very hard. We visited a mung bean work shop where the beans were soaked, the skins of the beans pealed, and then the beans are deep fried twice. The beans are then packaged and sold to grocery stores, restaurants and markets. We then went to the oldest golf course in Myanmar. It was established in 1887. We then headed back to the Pandaw.
After we boarded the Pandaw, it rained pretty heavily. After a gin and tonic on the Sun Deck, the lunch gong was rung. I had a very nice vegetable soup and some very good bread. Then I had a salad plate with four types of salad. One had thinly sliced tofu which had been fried. All of the salads were excellent. Next I had steamed rice, a type of chicken curry (a new type) and a very nice fish curry. For dessert, I had two large slices of yellow mango with some sort of sweet marinated bread. I had beer for drink.
After lunch, I went to my room and took a shower and then filled out my journal. I also typed it out. I took a short nap and then went to the Sun Deck.
At 3:30, Daniel gave a talk about Myanmar language and we each got a sheet of simple phrases. I took photos of interesting dipping strata along the eastern bank.
At 7:30, I went down to dinner. I sat at a table with a Swiss couple I had not met before, and an Australian couple (he was originally from England), and an Australian lady (also originally from England). We were served bread, a salad sampler with three types of salad, a cream of tomato soup, and I had ordered pork cutlets Milanese. For dessert we had banana spring rolls with chocolate sauce. It was all very good. I had red wine to drink. We had very interesting conversations and were the last table to disband.

I went to my room at 9:15 and brushed and flossed. I filled out my journal and went to bed at 9:30. I turned off the air conditioner and opened my windows. I'll see how it goes.

26 July 2013 Friday

I didn't sleep as well last night, I think because of the heat. I had turned off the air conditioner. I got up at 5:55 when the engines started. I took a shower, brushed my teeth and took my pills. I went up to the Sun Deck and had two cups of coffee and talked with some of the others.
At seven, I went down to breakfast. I had omelet with everything, toast, bacon, roasted tomato, and coffee.

I went back to my room and filled out my journal on the deck chair next to my cabin. It is raining again. We passed under a long bridge.
At about 9:00 we moored at Min Hla and made a walking excursion. We carried umbrellas, but it didn't rain. We first visited Minhla Fort, built in 1860 to keep the British from invading the remaining Royal Burma. The fort was captured by the British in 1885. We proceeded to the market area where vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, hardware, etc. was being sold. I took lots of photos. It became very humid although not yet very hot.
I went back on board and took a shower. I went to the Sun Deck for a Myanmar beer, which is actually very good. I went to my room and took a short nap, I didn't sleep much last night.
At 1 pm, lunch was served. I had a good vegetable-summer squash soup, bread, soft blue cheese, variety of salads including a fried chickpea salad, and a section of corn on the cob. We would not eat this corn at home. It was sweet corn but the kernels were much too large and starchy. They have not learned the concept of southern sweet corn in Myanmar. I had pre-ordered pork with cashew nut dish that also included green beans and green bell peppers. It was served with rice and was Chinese in taste. Dessert was watermelon and a thin, sweet chocolate pie (very strong chocolate). I had an Andaman beer for drink. I bought three Burmese music CDs on the way out.

At 3:30, we moored at the city, Magwe. We got on trishaws and rode to the Myat-thalon Pagoda. When we got there, we took off our sandals and walked up the steps to the platform with the gold-colored stupa. The bricks are covered with gold foil. It is sometimes advertised as being constructed of solid gold bricks, but this isn't so. Still, it's an impressive structure. I walked around it in a clockwise fashion and took lots of photographs. It looked like rain was imminent, so several of us went back down the stairway and to our trishaws. We returned to the boat before any rain started.
I went to my cabin and took a shower to get rid of the street grim. I filled out my journal on my deck chair. After that, I went to the Sun Deck.
At 7, I went to the Saloon for a briefing about tomorrow's activities. At 7:30 the gong was rung and we went to dinner. We had first a carrot mousse with cheese sauce. About half of the people wouldn't try it. I ate all of mine and thought it was good. Then came a very good vegetable cream soup and a nice fresh-baked bread. I had ordered Chicken Kalathar Rakhine style with jasmine rice. It was a bowl of chicken and a nice thin broth a bit like curry. I ate all of mine. For dessert, we were served creme caramel, which was good. I had red wine for drink.

After dinner, I went to my cabin at 8:45. I filled out my journal, brushed my teeth and went to bed before 9.

27 July 2013 Saturday

It rained off and on all night. I got up at 6:10, brushed my teeth and took my pills. I went to the Sun Deck and had a couple of cups of coffee. We stayed moored overnight at Magwe and will go on a morning excursion this morning.

I went to breakfast at 7:10 and had my usual, omelet with everything, toast and croissant (with Vegemite), roasted tomato, bacon, and coffee. I was going to try the congee, but was too full after the omelet. It rained all through breakfast and it looks like it will rain for hours. I don't mind walking in the rain with an umbrella, but I don't really want to ride on a wet trishaw for 2.5 hours without an umbrella.

I went back to my room and filled out my journal and took a shower. At about 8:30, we gathered for our morning excursion. We walked a short distance to the market block. I wandered around taking photos. These markets always have unusual smells, a mixture of fruit smells, tobacco, dried fish, incense, fermented fish paste, and tea. It's not for the faint of heart.
At 9:45 the trishaws lined up for us. We wound through the very busy town. It began to rain and rained steadily for about 45 minutes. I opened a large Pandaw umbrella and held it over the driver and me, as we drove along the muddy streets. We stopped briefly to take photos of the General Aung Sung statue. Even though it was raining, everybody was friendly and waved.
We got back to the Pandaw about 10:30. I tipped my driver 2000 chats (kyat) and went on board. I took a shower to get the street grime and mud off me and filled out my journal. It is still raining.

For the last two days, we cruised past a number of rock outcrops. The strata were largely shale with sandstone beds. The beds appeared to be dipping from ten to twenty degrees to the north. I don't know the age of these strata, but would guess Tertiary.

The gravels in the concrete piers at Magwe, probably dredged from the river, are rounded to sub-rounded quartz or quartzose pebbles or gravels up to 2.5 inches across. Most are about an inch across. In the concrete they have the appearance of the Sewanee Conglomerate of the Cumberland Plateau.
At one, I heard the lunch gong and went to the dining room. I had bread and a variety of salads. Today, we had a noodle soup station. I picked pork (chicken and beef were the other options) and it was added to some greens and vegetables and cooked briefly in boiling water. I picked one of the three styles of noodles to add to the mix. A strainer removed my ingredients and they were placed in a bowl. Broth was added. At that point, I added cilantro, basil, chopped chilies, dried fish, chili sauce, etc. I added too much soy, thinking it was hoisin sauce. My version was good and spicy with too much soy. For dessert I had a small square of pineapple cake with custard sauce and two large sections of yellow mango. I had Andaman beer for drink. I had a nice conversation about history and politics with my Australian friends.
I went back to my room and filled out my journal. I also took a short nap.

At 4 pm, I went to the Sun Deck and watched a demonstration on how to make Burmese Ginger Salad. Samples were then passed around and we all tried it. It has a lot of ingredients and we were given the recipe. We were also served green tea. I stayed on the Sun Deck and watched the scenery go by. I went to the briefing in the Saloon at 7:30. We are going to have a busy day tomorrow. After the briefing, I went down to dinner. We were served a mushroom quiche and then a spinach? soup and nice bread. I ordered Burmese style beef stew and rice. For dessert, we were served a very creamy cheese cake. Gerhardt had a birthday and the chefs prepared a chocolate birthday cake for him. They came in playing a guitar and singing Happy Birthday. A large piece of the cake was sent to our table. I didn't try it but they said the frosting was very strong chocolate. I had red wine to drink.

After dinner, I was back in my room by 8:45. I flossed and brushed my teeth. Then I filled out my journal and went to bed by nine.

28 July 2013 Sunday

I woke up several times, but got up about six when the engines started. We pulled away from our mooring. I took a shower, brushed my teeth and took my pills. I went up to the Sun Deck for coffee and to watch the landscape. It is still cloudy, but not raining for the time being.
I went down to breakfast and had my usual, including Vegemite. After breakfast, I went to my cabin and filled out my journal on the deck chair. It's a very peasant morning. There appears to be a large mountain on the horizon to our east.

I haven't had internet since I left Thailand. A few of the towns have had internet cafes, but I need WiFi to send out my e-mail entries from my journal.

We moored at Sale (aka Sa-Lay) at about 8:30. We made a walking excursion around the town. There are a lot of old British colonial houses here, many still abandoned. I took a lot of photos. We walked through a market area and eventually got to an old monastery, Yout-Saun-Kyaung (Youqson Kyaung). The monastery was made out of teak and there were many teak carvings inside and out. I took many photographs here as well. We walked a short distance through a temple and stupa complex to a temple with the world's largest hollow lacquer Buddha (in Nan Pagoda). Through a hole in the back, we could lay back and look upward through the inside of the Buddha. I saw pieces of petrified wood in the area outside the temple. We walked back to the Pandaw by 11:15.
I took a shower and filled out my notebook. I went to the Sun Deck and had a Myanmar beer. To our northeast, I could see the dormant volcano, Mt. Popa (1518 m, 4988 ft.)(Wikipedia entry). To the west, I could see the more distant and higher range of the Chin Hills.
Lunch was at 1 pm. I had Tom Yum Khan (Tom Yum chicken), a nice salad plate (four varieties), fresh bread and cheese (I always get the blue), and I ordered the Tempura-battered Butterfish with home-made tartar and cole slaw. For dessert, I had fresh rambuttan, longans and a coconut-sago custard, Cambodian style. Sago is a starch just like tapioca, they make the pearls out of sago starch rather than tapioca (manioc or cassava). I had an Andaman beer for drink.

We changed river pilots near a bridge and the began to see oil-well pumps (nodding donkeys). After lunch I bought hand-made lacquer bracelets for the girls.
Today we had some problems with one of the engines. I think a bearing in the steerable propeller has gone bad. We have slowed down considerably.

We got to Tan Kyi Taung 1.5 hours late. We finally moored next to a Pandaw clinic and got on 4-wheel drive vehicles (three plus driver per vehicle) and rode through the village to the top of a fairly high hill. We went to the hill-top stupa (name?, 21degrees 09' 17.41" by 94 degrees,47' 15.78") which has an excellent view of Bagan, a vast archaeological World Heritage site. I took lots of photographs.
We returned to the village and were treated to the "Elephant Dance." All of the village were there and it was very entertaining. I got photographs and videos as well. They reminded me of the Chinese Lion dances.
We went back to the Pandaw. I took a shower. Tonight is a longyi night, so I put on my longyi and shirt and went to the Saloon for the briefing. The briefing was postponed. Other than my Burmese brothers, one Aussie and I were the only men wearing longyis. A number of the ladies were wearing them though. Photographs were taken but I didn't have my camera with me (no pockets).

The dinner gong was rung and we all went to dinner. We had a Shan dinner tonight. We had a small Shan salad sampler and a nice soup (I don't remember what kind), plus bread. The dinner was Shan rice with Shan chicken curry, Shan-style fish, water greens, okra and other vegetables. It was very good. I had red wine to drink. The dessert was potato pudding which tasted to me like white sweet potatoes. Everything was running a bit late tonight.

I went to my cabin about 9:45 and filled out my journal. I brushed my teeth and went to bed by ten. We moor here tonight.

29 July 2013 Monday

I woke up at 5:15 and got up at 5:50. Both engines were started at 5:30. Hopefully, they are repaired. We made our way slowly across the Irrawaddy to Bagan. We could see Bagan yesterday from the stupa on the mountain.

I went to the Sun Deck after my shower and pills. I had a couple of cups of coffee and took some photos as we approached Bagan. Our schedule is a bit different today. I went to breakfast at 6:30 and had my usual. I was back at my room by 7 and I filled out my journal. We spend today and tomorrow in Bagan (aka Pagan), a World Heritage site (Wikipedia entry). There are thousands of stupas and temples here. I've been here before, Bagan was the southernmost point of my three-week Chindwin and Upper Irrawaddy cruise several years ago.
At 8 am, we boarded onto our air conditioned bus. We had to go through a gauntlet of charming Burmese hawkers selling sand paintings, lacquer ware, pants, longyis, postcards, and other items. Our bus went to many different stupas and temples and the same hawkers followed us on motorbikes, selling us the same things as before. Throughout the day, I ended up buying six additional lacquer ware items that I had not intended to buy. They are such charming people.
We went to five or six stupas and then, near the end of the morning, we went to a lacquer ware workshop (Bagan House website). I've been here before and it's just as amazing now as the first time. I took lots of photographs of the lacquer process and then went to the shop. There was a tremendous diversity and quantity of lacquer ware to view. Because it takes so many steps, it's a long process to make a single item. Many of my fellow passengers bought lots of lacquer ware here.
At the end of the morning, we headed back to the Pandaw. We had lunch at one, so I just had time for a quick shower. We were served winter melon soup, good bread, Seitthar Hinn (braised mutton), Pazun Hinn (River prawn curry), Be'O Hinn (egg curry), fried marrow with eggs, and for dessert Myanmar donut with an unusual cheese cake (I took a photo of the donut). I had Andaman beer for drink.
Then we reboarded out bus and spent the afternoon and early evening visiting more temples and stupas. It was a very busy day and I took lots of photos.
We eventually went back to the Pandaw and had dinner. I don't recall all of the menu, but we had an appetizer, creamed soup, and I had ordered mutton pie. It was all very good. I had red wine to drink.

Because we were running a little late, we went immediately to the Sun Deck in the evening for our Burmese puppet show. This was very well done and I took some interesting and long videos.
After the puppet show, I went down to my room, about 10 pm. I filled out my journal, brushed my teeth and went to bed about 10:20. It was a very busy day.

30 July 2013 Tuesday

I woke up at 5:15 but got up at 5:45. I did my morning ablutions and then went to the Sun Deck for coffee at 6. I was the first there, except for the staff. Slowly the hawkers came down to the shore. They were the same ones as yesterday. From the feel of it already, we're going to have a hot and humid day.
At 7, I went down to "brekkie." I had my usual including Vegemite and coffee.

At 8:30 we made another shore excursion. We got on our air con bus and stopped at several stupas for photographs. We then went to the largest and most important temple complex in Bagan, Shwezigon Pagoda (1102)(Wikipedia entry). We had to take off our sandals and carry them. This temple is one of only three in Myanmar that is made of sandstone instead of brick. It was only after an earthquake in 1975 that they discovered this stone. The sandstone is covered in gold foil. We entered from the southern gate and exited through the eastern gate. We then took the bus to the new Bagan town where everyone lives. I walked through the market taking a few photographs. As I walked past a tea house, Daniel came out and got me. I went into the teahouse and had a sweet-milk tea and a samosa (vegetarian). After a few minutes we got back onto the bus and went back to the Pandaw by 11:30. I bought a Bagan T-shirt and a cylindrical lacquer box from two hawkers.
On the Pandaw, I went to my cabin and took a shower. We pulled away from our mooring about 11:45. I sat on my deck chair and filled out my journal. I backed up my camera files and typed out my journal. The temperature is 36 degrees C in the shade. Yesterday, it was 38 degrees C.
The lunch gong was rung and I went off to lunch. We were served Calabash Shoot soup, fresh-baked bread and I had blue cheese. I went through the salad buffet which included deep-fried quail eggs, wooden ear salad, fried vegetables and several other items. I had pork curry with jasmine rice. For dessert I had watermelon, although chocolate cake was also offered. I had Andaman beer for drink. After lunch, I went to my cabin and took a short nap.

At 2:30, we changed river pilots just south of the 5-km-long bridge. It was raining hard at one end of the bridge and was dry at the other. We continued up the Irrawaddy and under the bridge.
At about 3:30, we moored at the village, Ohn Ne Kyaung. This town is famous for its toddy liquor. The sugar palms (aka toddy palms) have clay pots attached to the fruit stalks (the fruits are removed). The pots collect the sweet sap and that is used to make palm sugar or palm wine. I took some photos of the clay pots high in the trees. We made a walking shore excursion here. Lots of little children accompanied us as we walked through the village. A little boy held my hand as we walked. The yards are cleverly fenced with the palm frond stalks and it's actually quite attractive. We visited several compounds and talked to the elders. One old man came out in my direction. I greeted him with a handshake. He asked where we were from and I told him. He asked how old I was and I told him this also. We were the same age. He told me he was still very strong. We had to leave so I told him goodbye and shook his hand again. We headed back to the Pandaw, passing a soccer competition.
I boarded, went to my cabin, and took another shower. It was a very humid afternoon and the temperature was in the upper 90's. I sat on my deck chair and filled out my journal. We pulled away at 5 pm.

I went to the Sun Deck to try to catch a breeze and have a gin and tonic. At 7, we had our briefing about tomorrow and our visit to Yandabo. I missed Yandabo the last time I was here because our boat almost sank in a storm here several years ago. We had to cripple in to Mandalay rather quickly.
We went to dinner at 7:30. We were served an appetizer which I can't remember. Then we had a nice Chinese-style sweet corn soup and bread. I had Chicken Paupiette with mushroom cream sauce. The chicken had been flattened and rolled with cheese and then roasted au gratin style. For dessert, we had fresh pineapple fritters with local honey. I had red wine to drink. And we had nice conversations during dinner.

I went to my cabin at 9:00, brushed my teeth, filled out my journal and went to bed.

31 July 2013 Wednesday

I woke up at 5:15, but got up at 5:40. I took a shower, brushed my teeth and took my malaria pills. The engines started at 5:55. I went up to the Sun Deck and had a couple of cups of coffee. At about 7, we passed the confluence of the Chindwin River. We continued up the Irrawaddy.
At about 7:10, I went down to breakfast. Once again, I had my usual with coffee. After breakfast, I went to my cabin and filled out my journal while sitting on my deck chair.

At about 9:30, we moored at the village, Yandabo, on the east side of the Irrawaddy. We made a walking excursion of the village which is famous for its unglazed terracotta pottery. We saw all the phases of pottery making including preparation of the clay, trowing pots with foot-powered wheels, paddling of pots, drying, firing and loading of finished pots onto a boat. It was very interesting and I took a lot of photographs. This is a village that I missed on my previous cruise because of the big storm.
We went back on board at 11:15 and pulled away from our mooring about 11:30. Before we pulled out, Daniel called me to a tea shop and I went back ashore. He mentioned that the samosas here were just being made and that they were very good, so I got some. They were just out of the deep fryer and were, indeed, very good.

I went back on board and took a shower. The temperature is 100 degrees F and it's very humid. There is a thermometer on the Sun Deck (in the shade) and it's gotten to 100 degrees several days.

I went to lunch at 1 pm. It was a buffet for everything and I didn't get to try everything, there was just too much. I did the main course first because the line was shorter. I had home-made won ton soup for entree plus salmon baked in flaky pastry. I had bread and good blue cheese and a nice selection of salads. I had an Andaman beer for drink. I didn't even get to the Burmese tea-leaf salad buffet or the dessert table (fruit rolled in crepes with sauce).

I went to the Sun Deck and talked for a long time, but it was pretty hot when there wasn't a breeze. I went to my cabin about 4 and took a nap and then sat on my deck chair to fill out my journal and watch the scenery. The majority of the people I've talked to want to do another Pandaw cruise.
Just before dark, we tied up to a bank which, in itself, is an interesting process. I went to the briefing in the Saloon and tomorrow we start early.

At 7:30, I went to dinner. We were served a nice tomato salad, bread, a "Twelve Kind" soup, and I had Mutton casserole in red wine sauce, which was excellent. Dessert was two slices of watermelon and a lemon tart. I didn't taste any lemon in the tart, it was more like a cheese cake.

After dinner, I joined friends for a cheroot and glass of wine. I went to my cabin at 9:30, filled out my journal, brushed my teeth and went to bed by 9:45.

1 August 2013 Thursday

I woke up at 5:30, but got up at 5:50 when the engines started. I took a shower, brushed my teeth and took my malaria pills. We pulled away about 5:55.

I went to the Sun Deck and had my coffee. It's cloudy today, so perhaps, it won't be so hot. I went down to breakfast at 6:30 and had my usual.

I went back to the Sun Deck and took photos as we went under the two bridges near Mandalay. We had to slow down under the bridges because we only had one meter clearance overhead. We moored just past the bridges.
We started our shore excursion earlier, at 8 am. We boarded an air conditioned bus and spent all morning going from one site to the next. I had been to every place we visited during my previous trip. We stopped at the royal palace walls and moat, a carved teak monastery, carved scriptures from Buddhist texts, the famous gilded bronze statue of Buddha, and a gold-foil workshop. There were also some photographic stops. The last time I was at the gilded Buddha statue, I wasn't allowed on the Buddha platform, because I had worn shorts. This time, I got into my longyi and was able to go to the platform and add gold foil to the statue. Even though I had been to all these places before, I still took photographs.
We got back to the Pandaw at 1 pm, lunch time. I had a very delicious winter melon soup, fresh bread, and a variety of very good salads. I ordered deep fried chicken with cashew nuts (Chinese style I think). It was very good. While we were out on our excursion, Daniel had bought a special potato-coconut cake for all of us to try. We had this for dessert and it was excellent. I also had fresh pineapple with it. I had Andaman beer for drink.

After lunch, I went to my cabin and took a shower. I took a very brief nap.

At 3 pm, we started our afternoon shore excursion to Amarapura. We boarded our bus and visited a weaving workshop. This is the same place where my longyi came from. I took lots of photos of the weaving process. We then went to the famous U Bein bridge, a 1.2 km teak log bridge made from timbers from one of the royal palaces. Most of us walked across the bridge. On the far side, I walked around briefly and then hopped onto a sampan for a ride across the lake back to the landing. There were two passengers to most sampans, but I was odd man out, so I had my own sampan and oarsman. We paddled around for awhile and then the Pandaw bartenders, in another boat, passed out glasses of champagne to us as we watched the sun set. I took lots of photos. We eventually made our way back to the shore and onto our bus. I tipped my oarsman 2000 kyats and the remaining half glass of champagne, probably the first he ever had.
We got back to the Pandaw about 7. I took a quick shower and then went to dinner at about 7:30. We were served grilled mixed vegetable salad with balsamic dressing and a nice bread. Then we had potato and ham soup (Kartoffle Suppe mit Schenken einlager, according to my German friends). I ordered Stir Fried Pork with wooden ear mushrooms and scallions with steamed rice. It was excellent. I had red wine for drink. For dessert, we had a fruit cocktail with durian wafers. One of the passengers gave me their wafer, so I had two.

After dinner, we immediately went to the Sun Deck where we had a classical Myanmar dance troupe preformed classical Burmese dances. These were trainees from the Mandalay University of Culture. This show was very entertaining and I videotaped some of it.
After the show, I went to my cabin and prepared for bed. I brushed my teeth and then filled out my journal. It was later than usual, because of the extended activities of the day. I went to bed by 10:20.

2 August 2013 Friday

I woke up at 5:15 and went back to sleep. We remained at our mooring today and so the engines didn't start. I got up at 6:15, took a shower, brushed my teeth and took my malaria pills. I went to the Sun Deck and had two cups of coffee.

I went to breakfast at 7 and had my usual plus Vegemite. There was always the comment that no one had ever seen an American eat and actually enjoy Vegemite. After breakfast, I sat on my deck chair and filled out my journal. My view was several acres of bamboo rafts. I also typed out some of my journal.
At 8:30, we left the boat and took the air con bus to Innwa, the old capitol. We left the bus and took a very short long-tail boat across a small river. From there, we loaded, two to a pony cart. We took a twenty-minute bumpy ride to an old teak monastery and to an old temple complex. I bought a small bronze temple gong with a teak hammer from one of the hawkers. Going to the temples, I was in the back of the covered pony cart and I could only see very little. On the way back, I sat at the front and was able to get a few photographs.
We returned to the Pandaw the same way back, by pony cart, boat and bus, and arrived at the Pandaw a few minutes before 12. I went to my cabin and took a shower. I then sat on my deck chair and filled in my journal. The temperature is 39 degrees C.

At one, the lunch gong was rung. I had a nice bowl of radish soup, fresh bread, blue cheese and a salad plate of four types of salads, including white fungus (the chef said that it was a seaweed), marinated okra, and even a side dish of anchovies, which surprised me. I ordered a mixed vegetable curry and rice. It had aubergine, carrots, cauliflower, and other vegetables in a Panang-style spicy curry with basil. It was very good. I had Andaman beer for drink. I didn't opt for the dessert (banana fritters, chocolate brownie and mango slices) because I was too full. Plus, it is over 100 degrees F today.

At 2:30, we had a briefing about leaving Pandaw tomorrow. They will call a taxi for me tomorrow.

At 3, we went back on the bus and rode across the bridge to Sagaing. There are over a thousand stupas and temples here. We visited a silversmith workshop and then the Sakyadhita nunnery school. After that we went to a staging area where we got onto four vehicles that drove us up winding and steep roads to the 45 Buddha cave and then the hilltop large Buddha temple and stupa. Several of us rode standing up on the rear running boards while holding onto rails. The scenery was amazing and I took lots of photographs.
We came back down the hill and got back on our bus and returned to Pandaw at 7, in the dark (the time zones are different here). I went to my cabin and took a quick shower. I put my longyi on and went to the crew presentation on the Sun Deck at 7:30. The dinner gong was rung about 8:00 and we went to dinner. We had a banana flower salad and fresh bread. We were served a carrot and ginger cream soup (excellent) and I had ordered Butterfish with coconut beurre with vegetable. I drank red wine for drink. For dessert we were served a sort of egg custard with an intense passion fruit syrup. This was amazing.

I went back to my cabin by 9:15 and filled out my journal. I started organizing my things for packing too.

I went to the Saloon and had a rum and coke that Tom from Australia ordered for me at 10. I talked for awhile and then went back to my cabin by 10:30. I brushed my teeth and went to bed.

3 August 2013 Saturday

I woke up several times after 4, but got up at 6:10. I took my pills, brushed my teeth and took a shower.

I went to breakfast at about 6:15 (it starts earlier today). I had the usual plus Vegemite. I left my old running shoes with the Purser who will give them to one of the crew. I got my passport back and signed my bill.

I went back to my room and filled out my journal. At 9, my taxi came. One of the German passengers was also going in that direction so he rode in the taxi too. After about 30-40 minutes, I arrived at the "Hotel on the Red Canal," (their website) near the Royal Palace/Fort. This is a very charming boutique hotel. I arrived before my room was ready so I sat in the lobby and filled out my journal. The street looked a little seedy, but the hotel has good security. My room was ready at 10 am. This is the nicest room I've had in a long time. I took photos of the room, the lobby and the pool area. I spent the morning typing out my journal. I attempted to access the internet by WiFi, but the connection was so slow that everything timed out. I'll try later.
They have massage at this hotel, so I booked an hour massage at 12. The massage was much like a Thai oil massage, but much gentler. The oil was olive oil and I felt like a salad after it was over. After the massage, I went to a sort of patio lounge overlooking the pool and courtyard. Mandalay is a very busy city with lots of traffic. This hotel, however, is at the intersection of two quiet residential streets. One might never think you're in a large city. From the Canopy lounge, all one can see are trees. A good-humor man just passed selling ice cream or sweets, but instead of irritating canned music, he had a gong. I prefer the gong. It's nice to have a relaxing day after four weeks of travel. It is hot though, probably 100 plus. I had a couple of cold Myanmar beers while here.
The heat sent me back inside. I was able to get a better internet connection for a while and slowly sent out about five e-mail entries. It required a lot of patience. The fifth e-mail was never sent, the connection timed out and the internet was cut off. The WiFi here works fine. It is the service provider or the internet infrastructure that is lacking. I will try later.

At 6:30, I went to the pool area where they had cocktail hour. I had a gimlet, but it was a little awkward because there weren't many seats there. I drank my gimlet and went to the restaurant.

I ordered the traditional Myanmar set menu "B" for 13,000 kyats ("chats"). It included vegetable tempura, lentil vermicelli soup, carrot salad, chicken curry, stir fried watercress with mushrooms, coconut rice, and condiments, fruit, pudding, tea leaf salad, and tea. I ordered a Myanmar beer. Most of the items on the printed menu were Indian, this is an Indian-owned hotel. There were western and Chinese dishes as well. Only a few Myanmar dishes. There are plenty of good restaurants within walking distance, but I am too tired and it's hard to develop enthusiasm when you're alone.

The restaurant is small, as one might expect with a boutique hotel. There were five tables inside and four large picnic table booths outside.

I finished my meal and went back to my room. I tried the internet again, but it would not work. I brushed my teeth and then watched TV and went to bed about 9.

4 August 2013 Sunday

I woke up about every hour, checking the time. I got up at 5:50. I took my pills, brushed my teeth and took a shower. I packed everything because I leave Myanmar today.

At 6:45, I took my pack down to the lobby, checked out, and paid my account. The ride to the airport was included as well as my meal, beer and massage.

I boarded my minibus and we drove to the airport. I was the only passenger. The trip took about one hour, but was interesting to see the shops and stands along the way.

We got to the international airport about 7:45. I went through security and then to the check-in counter. I saw Rosemary, a fellow Pandaw passenger from England. We got our boarding passes and then went through passport control. The lines were very short so it didn't take long. A Danish fellow joined us. Rosemary went shopping and the Danish fellow, a business-school lecturer, and I went to a coffee shop and had a cup of coffee. After the coffee, we went through another security control to get to our gate area. Judging from a glance around, the travelers were about 5% westerners and 95% asian on this flight to Bangkok.

We boarded an airport bus and drove to the plane. The plane took off about 9:30 Yangon time. The flight was a little more than an hour long. We were served a sandwich, a Kit Kat and water. We arrived in Bangkok about noon (Bangkok time). We went through passport control which was very busy, it took about 30 minutes in the switchback line to get to the passport desks. One Russian fellow and his girlfriend cut the line entirely and went to the head of the line when no one was looking. I got through passport control and customs and then went to the departures area of the airport. I went to an automated boarding pass machine, swiped my passport and got all four (ugh!) boarding passes for my flights early tomorrow.

I then went back to the arrivals area and found a kiosk for my hotel at exit 4. The lady guided me to the hotel shuttle bus and it took off after about five minutes. I'm staying at the Novotel Suarnabhumi Airport Hotel on the airport grounds. I checked in and was in my room about 1:15. I will check out about 4 AM tomorrow morning. I went to my room, took some photos, filled out my journal and took a shower.
I tried logging onto the WiFi, but didn't connect. I found out later that one has to pay for internet at this hotel. Anyway, I walked around the hotel looking at the various shops.

After watching TV in my room, I went for dinner at a tapas bar. There didn't seem to be any Spanish tapas at all, but I ordered port satay platter and grilled tuna skewer platter. Both were actually very good. A Thai man and woman were playing jazz, he the upright bass and she, the piano. I walked up after the meal and left them a tip and said that I enjoyed their music.

I went to my room and repacked. I brushed my teeth and went to bed at 8. I get up very early tomorrow.

5 August 2013 Monday

I woke up about every 20 minutes until I got up at 3:30. I took a shower, brushed my teeth and took my malaria pills. I checked out at 4 and walked through underground walkways to the terminal for about 5 minutes. I went through security and passport control and then to my gate area. I went through another set of security there. There is a high terror alert for transportation and that probably accounts for all the guards.

I boarded my Delta flight and we took off about 5:50 AM. I watched Neighborhood Watch, Ted, and 9. I had pork and rice with sweet roll and yogurt, plus hot tea. For the second meal I had some sort of sandwich.

We arrived at Narita about 1:15 local time. I wound my way to a new and thorough security control area. I got to my new gate area for my Delta flight to Los Angeles. I boarded about 2:45 PM and the plane took off about 3:30.

The flight to Los Angeles was better. I had a hot meal, and red wine. The meal was beef bibimbap with rice, a salad with miso dressing, bread and some sort of cake. I watched several movies that I can't remember and I tried to sleep some (but don't think I did). We crossed the international dateline, so Monday started all over again.

We landed in LA about 9:30. I went through Immigration and Customs control faster than most, I have no checked luggage. I boarded my next flight to Atlanta about 11:20 AM and it took off around noon. We were served some kind of meal, but I didn't get any, the lady sitting next to me, didn't alert me about it.

We arrived in Atlanta about 7:30 PM. I caught the shuttle train to my new terminal and walked around. I went to a BBQ and Burger restaurant and ordered a pulled pork BBQ sandwich and a Sweetwater 420 beer. I also filled out my journal.

I boarded the Delta flight to Lexington and we took off at 9:45 PM. We landed at the Bluegrass Airport about 10:40. I saw Nora and Anne waiting for me. I gave them a hug and they drove me home.