Asia July 2014
Sunday June 29
I love Thai Air. I want to fly them everywhere. Thank god the last leg of four is in first on their Rome BKK. So nice.
Except for weird Italian dude who likes to change into and out of the provided PJs in the front of the cabin. Not so sexy. The 8′ you get per seat is nice. I can’t reach the other end when sitting. So nice.
After the Air Canada leg Thai air is just surreal. On Air Canada I felt like a mouse in a weird maze. All the seats are right next to each other diagonally but very tight.
Tuesday July 2
30 hours in and I’m in Bangkok. 20hrs flying 4 flights 3 continents & customs twice. Showered in Rome & attempted to shave causing me to look like Freddie Kruger. Did get to see some of the World Cup in Roem which was fun.
It seems like all ads here are geared for girls. Most models are good looking young men. Female models seem to be westerners. It’s odd.
Sorry been neglecting this journalsince the wedding was so amazing. 4 days and over $10 million is tough to forget. I shall never see anything like it again.
Heat was a problem. The hotel had AC but every time I went out I melted. I had some heat stroke issues.
Sunday, July 6
En route to Yangon. The flight was out of the 1980s. Airbus 319. 4 stewards they served dinner even tho it’s only a 90 min flight. Just like old days of flying!
Here I go.
Arrived. Changed us $100 & got a huge stack of 97 kyat 1000 notes.
Oddly they drive on the right but it seems most steering wheels are there too.
The streets seem pretty calm but that may be Sunday here. Roads aren’t crowded.
It reminds me of Latin America. They have all the same brands just not well presented. There is no buzz in the air like BKK or SGN.
Everyone here is obsessed with new American bills. I got cash from the teller and ATM at home but the bills are too old for here. It’s annoying.
So the cabs here don’t have meters so every trip you have to negotiate a rate. It’s annoying.
Monday, July 7
Ok tv commercials are weird. Besides the teenie bopper types there are a lot of ads for glasses. Don’t know why. There is a telenovela ad with a guy dissecting a frog then setting his girlfriend up for shoplifting. Kinky s&m stuff for Myanmar.
Went to bed at 8 pm last night. Still recovering from the wedding. Woke up by 4 am for my 5 am pick up. Crazy dream I broke my iPhone screen. The Malaria meds do cause crazy dreams. Argh!!!
1970s Florida air!
Loving Bagan. Much dryer air
This is so much poorer than Siem Reap, Cambodia. There are just a few paved roads & the people live in the same squalor. Checked in to flight & they didn’t ask for id. All the men do wear sarongs tho.
The pagodas are solid with bits of reliquary in them & the temples have rooms on the inside. I asked why so many 3200 and they were built at the edge of farms when this area was so successful 1100-1300 ad. Still not sure of the connection between Buddhism & Hinduism since Hindu gods see to be everywhere. The carvings seem to be better preserved than Angkor Wat because they are in brick not sandstone and because of the dry climate the forest has not overtaken the area. There was an earthquake in 1975 the devastated the area but that lead to UNESCO coming in to preserve the area. Still a little resentment against the military but nothing about the Brits.
My guide Thu Ru has been a guide for 8 years but has only got steady work since 2010 when the military shared power. He looked about 18 sounded about 25 but admitted he was 39! Jeez Burmese have good genes. He is in married, lives with his mother & used to work in a hotel. Gaydar went off.
All the cars here are used from Japan and Taiwan I think. I have seen no car dealerships and very few current looking cars. Jaywalking in busy streets seems to be a way of life. I constantly see people in the median between blocks trying to cross. I bet there are a lot of deaths.
Cars here are very into the doily seat covers. It’s horrible.
The city here is quite sprawling. No main avenue or central area it seems.
The driver from the airport has to stop or slow at every bump in the road. It’s taken an hour with no Ac to get back to the hotel. Ugh.
Tuesday July 8 – Yangon
Lots of churches around. Guide says 75% Buddhist 12 Christian 8 Muslim 5 Hindu
Saw Supreme Court bldg. where Ang Sung Su Chi father was assassinated in a horrible state. They say it will be a museum but it will be a while. Moisture is ruining all the beau arts buildings. It reminds me of Cuba.
The yellow stone on the women’s faces is a little weird. It’s something like makeup and sunblock.
I didn’t think I could sweat more but I am. I am never coming back to Asia in summer again at least my shorts dry quickly.
My guide Lawrence is a bit like the depressed robot Marvin in hitchhikers guide.
I like the Burmese but don’t see ambition like in other countries.
Amazing floating restaurant next up.
All the driving feels like we are going in circles.
Amazing park in the middle of town with a huge floating restaurant. Evidently it’s the spot for young lovers & I saw a few even at 1030 am.
They must love the show The Americans because the se episode has been in twice in 12 hrs.
I swear I have no toxins left in me. I have sweated thru my entire body weight 3 times in a week.
Plus I wish I had decent water pressure in my room. It gets hot barely but no pressure. I’ll need to shower again in BKK.
I could never be an imperialist. I would melt the first week.
One difference btw here & Vietnam is there are fewer handicapped people. They seemed everywhere in VN.
The govt seems very willing to seize land for condos but the infrastructure sucks. What are they going to do if the economy booms?
So yesterday I had a beef & mushroom and the beef was so stringy. Laced with fat & tough to chew.
Just dropped $430 on 2 sapphires which the astrologer recommended plus a necklace for Mom & a jade stone. It was a lot but it seemed reasonable.
The guidebook says crime is low but every property has huge walls & barb wire fences. In case of revolution?
Ok really annoyed. I cannot even give away 20s. Everyone wants new perfect ones. Just spent 15 min trying to pay for an overpriced massage. 2 cc nuked then they turned down cash.
Wednesday July 9
Didn’t go out last night. Took a nap after a massage, woke up& it was raining. I figured no one would be out on a rainy Tuesday so just stayed in.
Laundry was much cheaper than I thought. Only $8 after almost $200 in Bangkok. I hope Beijing is cheap too so I can get some stuff there too.
Checking out was weird because they don’t take credit cards so it had to be prepaid.
I got laundry done for only $8 I wish I washed more. I’m hoping laundry in Beijing is cheap.
I’m really surprised by the lack of services in Yangon even at the nicest hotels. Travelling with mc 15 yrs ago we had better service and more facilities. I wonder if Phenom Phen is like. Siem Reap didn’t seem to be.
Gas is less than $1 per liter which isn’t bad but once they go to market rate it may be harsh.
Ok for the first time this trip a cow crossing the road caused traffic to stop. Lol
It’s funny. The Yangon downtown waterfront is covered in warehouses and cranes. Most modern cities have moved their shipping outside of town. I would love to be here when they start selling it off. It’ll be worth a fortune.
Thursday July 10
Just flew air china on an old aircraft. So old it had ash trays. Lol
Overnight flight BKK PEK only 4 hours so we’ll see how I do later today. I have a massage at 2 so hopefully I can make it.
Beijing has an amazing airport. The US has a lot to do to catch up. Our airports are an embarrassment.
Ironically an amazing clear day. I’m sure the fog rolls in later but quite dreamy right now. It seems like the super sunny days in Ireland.
Big traffic on way into town I assume rush hour. I am really blown away by the level of service here. I don’t know what it is about the culture, class system, economic strata, or underemployment but they really take care of you.
One thing I have not heard anywhere is sirens. Police or EMTs. I see the flashing lights sometimes but no sound it’s nice.
Everyone here is so young.
Every subway stop has a metal detector too.
Beijing is a huge city. The maps are small but the real distances are really far.
I love my quaint little hotel but it’s down a long sketchy (but crowded) alley. Admittedly the police station is on this block but there is almost no light.
Another thing. There are 3 public toilets on this long block. Is this in case they don’t have one in the home? Or is public urination that big a problem?
It was 97 degrees today but blissfully dry. No sweating thru everything I own. No need to replenish fluids every 12 hrs. It was wonderful and now it’s cooling off. Yeah!
I’m loving the architecture. They have done a good job creating modern functional stylish buildings. Wed notice more if the city were not so massive.
Overrate the Peking duck at the cute restaurant near my hotel. Should not have eaten so much!
Friday, July 11
Woke up at 8 am sleeping 10 hrs. I was tired. Quick breakfast and I was ready to go. I jumped the gun with Parral when he was 5 min late but I was eager to get going.
Did the Tibetan lama temple first due to misdirection on metro. But it was very cool. There was an announcer on the street warning of political activity which Parral did not translate.
The temple was cool. A former princely palace turned temple with 3 courtyards & 3 halls. It was the first time I saw the fat laughing fat Buddha which must be an Eastern Asia thing. My guide compared me to him which was not flattering.
Amazed at number of Chinese tourists. They will be a tourist force in the next decade.
Long day of touring. Temple Forbidden City Tianjin square temple of heaven. Amazing. It is really incredible how empires / countries represent themselves. Us is no better when I look around Washington. All the palaces were incredibly crowded of course. But like Versailles no furniture. Last stop was a market with name brand ripoffs but I couldn’t get into it. The salespeople were the pushiest by far. Going to actually grab me and insult me if I walk away. By far the worst I’ve seen in a while. And the prices were outrageous. $50 for a yard of silk $25 for a cotton shirt. I get them cheaper in the us. Do I look like a sucker? I guess I do stand out as one. I’m a foot taller & 100 lbs bigger.
Have not really been in the mood for shopping. Been busy running around. No time to settle down & focus on buying which is good since I am spending enough.
I’m at another local restaurant near the hotel. I feel bad not being a foodie but who wants to eat alone in a big restaurant. Plus getting there and back is a hassle. Id rather spend it resting & getting ready to go out. Tho I have not done much of that either.
The irony is not lost on me that the subway (and elsewhere) cartoon character is circular with big round eyes. (Racist I know but really?)
Smoking In clubs? Really? China has not gotten the memo.
Gay bar destination.
They are playing movie trailers for broke back mountain by Ang lee. Weird
Dance floor has some sort of springs below it which is there claim to fame.
Went to Destination last night. Fun place but huge. One small dance floor and then room after room of lounges. It’s a good idea but I don’t think a place that big would survive DC. When I left it was packed tho with lots of 20-30 somethings.
Ran into a very nice man Joon. 27 civil engineer. It was his second time in the club and he had not been with a guy since college. I always get the newbies. I introduced him to grindr & jackd so hopefully he’ll find some friends.
Saturday, July 12
Ready to head home. It’s been a great trip but ready. Today is the arts district the Great Wall and then airport.
Impressed that I have not had to expand the suitcase but I did send home 10 kilos of stuff from Bangkok. I hope to get a few more presents before I go.
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