Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day 2 - January 7, 2008 - Mandalay, Myanmar

Day 2 - January 7, 2008 - Mandalay, Myanmar

Had a tasty included breakfast downstairs at 8:00 AM. Toast + bananas + 2 fried eggs + coffee + juice.

Set out on the Lonely Planet downtown walking tour. On the way we checked out 2 other hotels that turned out to be too expensive, without a good view or vibe.

Many monks were out collecting alms both on foot and on buses. It's scene we would see repeated all over the country each morning.

The Clock Tower was impressive but the famous Zegyo Market was closed (on Monday's) so we gave up on the rest of tour and returned to the hotel although we did buy an English textbook from book shop on the way back. Sun-Ling wants to learn the Myanmar letters and numbers.

Tried calling the Chinese Consulate to get info on Chinese visas but they did not answer. A digression. When I resigned from Intel, my Chinese Resident Visa was canceled and replaced with a 30-day, single entry, Tourist Visa which was duly canceled when we left Kunming. Thus to get back into China I would need another Tourist Visa. Sun-Ling's Chinese Resident Visa was not canceled but it was set to expire in Feb 08, so she needs another Tourist Visa when we enter China again in March.

Back the hotel and next door to Shwe Pyi Moe Cafe, a branch of the well known tea house, for lunch. Tea + fried eggs + nan and beans + spongy cold noodles for 850 Kytat (about 75 cents). Back to hotel for a nap.

Spent the afternoon strolling around our part of town on foot and doing some trip planning on the roof top terrace (only 26 days left on our 28 day visa).

Many of the houses in this section of town are older wooden structures on stilts.

Near the hospital that's close to our hotel, we saw several big piles of what looked like donated clothing from overseas. Some had been washed and were hanging on racks (for sale?), the rest were still in piles on the sidewalk. Hmm. Guess that's one way the clothes we donate to charity end up.

Other local color that I noted in my journal:
-broom salesman with inventory
-betel nut seller and cart
-ice cream seller and cart
-3 ducks chasing 2 boys

Spent 200 K on a tasty street-side snack and 300K on another bottle of water.

Inspected the bikes for hire at our hotel. They look OK.

Had dinner at a nearby "tea house". Rice + mushrooms + watercress w/tofu + cauliflower + soup for 1400 Kyat.

Beer! After our meal at the tea house we had 2 draft Spirulina beers at a beer house we passed on the way back to the hotel. The owner spoke some English and was very friendly. He brought us some free peanuts. We bought some grilled new potatoes and grilled quail eggs.

The drafts were a bit less than a pint, maybe 300 mls, and were 400 K each - not a bad price. The beer itself was golden brown, a tad weak, but still tasty.

A regular, an Indian guy with jet black hair, wearing a western styled leather jacket, about my age, came in and sat down. He ordered a pint of Grand Royal Whiskey. They brought him the pint, a medium empty glass and big glass of water, and he proceeded to make a succession of whiskey's and water. He was still at it when we left.

Last stop of the evening was our local Buddhist Temple. No shoes of course, but it was a very dirty walk up to the altar - dirty as in dirt - as one can bicycle in, drive a car in, and the whole town is quite dusty in the dry season. Many people are praying either in front of the Buddha Image or in the meditation room behind. There was also a room with fans and mosquito nets. I guessed that this was a "comfortable" meditation room but not sure. [To clarify the drive-in part. One can drive their car into the temple compound almost to the inner area, removing their shoes as they get out of the car.]

Back at the Royal City, the hot water, a combination of solar and gas powered, seems to be on the fritz. Arrggh. We finally get hot water after 10 PM.

The clock tower
Clock Tower - Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)

Morning commuters
Morning Commute - Mandalay

Shwe Pyi Moe Cafe
Shwe Pyi Moe Cafe - Mandalay

Broom Seller
Mr Broom - Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)

Typical House
Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)

Snack Vender = Spicy + tasty!
Snack Vendor - Mandalay, Myanmar Burma

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