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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Myanmar - Mandalay - just like Bangladesh but without the infrastructure

MYANMAR | Monday, 3 October 2011 | Views [1322]

Destination – Myanmar – Mandalay – it’s like Bangladesh but without the infrastructure…

We catch an 10 hours bus to Mandalay. The bus would be ok if it wasn’t for the very loud music clips and the two infuriating habits the local people have. The first is to munch on sunflower seeds throughout the ENTIRE journey, making a lot of noise. Believe me, after the first five minutes if really gets to you. Once one person finishes the other one starts, "crack, crack, crack"…  The second habit is to chew the betel nut (paan) and spit the red juice everywhere, except that, on the bus, they spit it into a plastic bag/plastic bottle, collecting it, fuller and fuller of red spit along the way, hanging from the back of their seats. Red spit! Looking like blood, not a nice sight!

Having said that, we can’t stress enough, they are really nice people, so friendly, everybody says HELLO and smiles at you all the time and you kind of get used to being as much a part of their sightseeing as they are yours. The kids are so cute, always smiling at us and wanting to talk. The magic of an underdeveloped tourism industry at work.

Mandalay is really poor and run down, there is mud everywhere, and people live with next to nothing. It’s really dilapidated and dirty and we again found ourselves having trouble finding a place to eat. It’s a real shame, as there is so much to see, it’s such an interesting place. Anywhere else in the world would have an entire tourist industry supporting a town half as interesting as Mandalay. Just think of places like Cambodia and Vietnam, where sometimes there’s nothing to see really but everything is so nicely done for your comfort, you get the feeling you are having the best and most interesting holiday ever. Once again, the sightseeing is amazing and the photos are there to prove it. The people are very, very sweet and even the monks stop to chat with us, but the melancholy and the memory of better times and unfulfilled potential is ever present. We buy packets of lollies for the kids and have a sweet time talking to them and to the local monks. The women and some of the kids wear some sort of pale paste (Tanaka) on their faces and, of course, we have to ask what it is and we’re told it is from a root, used as a cosmetic and to protect their skin from the sun and it is also medicinal. Of course, we had to take some photos for you guys.

The internet is a perpetual uncertainty. Besides government control, most of the hotels in the country, excluding some new expensive ones In Yangon, don’t have wi-fi and when they do, it doesn’t work properly. Downloading is also not allowed in the country. It’s infuriating!!!  Well, we have to make do without the internet for a few days. It’s not like we are addicted or anything really… No, really, I’m serious. Anyway, Mandalay was also a bit too hardcore and bit depressing for us and after two days we decided to move on to Bagan. We begin to wonder if we are going to last for a month in Myanmar. Have we gone too soft because of the comforts of South East Asia? Or is Myanmar really a tough country to travel in? Let’s hit the tourist trail and check it out.  TBC.


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