Myanmar: "I will see for myself"

January 5, 2005

Dear Family and Friends,

Every Lonely Planet guidebook has a tag line on the front cover:

The Thailand book has "What to Do in the Land of Wats."

The Austria book has "The Hills Are Alive."

The Southwest France book - "From Hot Springs to Holy Shrines."

The Los Angeles book - “From Collagen to Celluloid.”

The tag line for the Myanmar (Burma) book is “Should you go? See inside for details.”


Yangon: "Paya, Nat"

January 12, 2005


Yangon. A cacophony of traditional markets - chicken butchers at the ready; Christian churches - "Merry Christmas" banners flying; Mosques - young boys give me a tour; Hindu temples - colorful ornate sculptures; British colonial buildings - gazing lions atop imposing brick walls; shops, stalls, sidewalk vendors.

Sule Paya. In the center of Yangon, its 46m high golden zedi (gently tapering cylindrical cone) serving as my orientation point whenever I got lost.

In and around Yangon, I found many other excellent Buddhist sights:

One of my favorites is the Botataung Paya:

Mandalay: "The River Cruise"



January 11, 2005

Dear Family and Friends,

Today is a day for a quiet stroll.

After breakfast at the hotel, I stroll over to the main market - three floors of dozens of small stalls selling dry goods and clothing and cosmetics, house wares and electronics.  I buy a small piece of red and gold-threaded floral design fabric to add to my collection. Next I stroll out to the street for a coffee under the clock tower.

Then I stroll towards Strand Street which could only mean the The River. The guidebook says, "There is always something happening there." Mandalay is very spread out so I stroll about half way to the river and hail a tri-shaw.

Mandalay: Mandalay Hill, the Royal Palace

January 18, 2005


I did not take The 'Road' to Mandalay. The distances are long; the pavement uncertain; the bus and train schedules, uneven. The flights are short, on time and the service personnel. . . .

I arrived in Mandalay, set out on my stroll, and soon asked myself, "Jan, what the hell are you doing here?" Dusty, noisy, unattractive city streets. Can't find a decent restaurant. Then I remembered, "Jan, this is Asia. Patience. Patience."

I hired a taxi.

I love Mandalay.


Mandalay: An Evening Teaching English

I love Mandalay. I hate my hotel room.  I wander and explore.  I discover the Unity Hotel.   At the reception desk, Thida is so lovely and gracious.  With a kind smile she says, “We will be happy to welcome you.”  I checked in the next day

After breakfast, before my climb of Mandalay Hill, I invite Thida for coffee. She smiles.  She declines