Burma

BURMA

For me in my final memory as I departed Burma, The image that will become Burma is the Sun and the woman’s parasol the temples and the Irrawadi river.  It is a special  land of sun, umbrellas, temples and the Irawadi river.

That coffee colored river coursing is way between the muddy banks carried entire families on it in river boats slowly drifting as though time did not exist.  Men fished with their nets and birds swooped down to catch their evening morsel. Life here is slow and peaceful river.  Yet it was the sun that rose and colored the landscape washing everything in its path. During he day it was hot and the Sun baked he earth and all that it kissed. Everything was overexposed and heat rose off the landscape creating mirages and wavering visions and reflections of colors off the slow moving water.  At sunset the sun painted the landscape in crimson blood orange and then life disappears into the blackness of night

Burma was shut down except for a fee at the Embassy in Thailand.  Remember, money does buy that which is closed.  After writing a letter stating the reasons why we wanted to visit Burma, paying a few people off in US cash and certifying we were not reporters, we were able acquire a visa and then we were required to surrender our passports a week in advance of leaving.  This left us no passport while staying in Thailand for that week. We bordered a Burmese Aircraft that was advised as unsafe and out of the jurisdiction of the normal worldwide aircraft rules.  As we took off, the seat next to us tipped over.  Nice way to start a flight plus we were landing right after 1,000 students had been killed. It should be a fun adventure. Upon landing we stayed at the Strand hotel at one time the finest east of the Sues. We dealt money on the Black market for a 1000 percent profit= yes that is a 1000 percent profit. Now this was illegal of course but somebody had to make money so it might as well be me as anyone else and it came with risks when I tried to leave.

Selling Currency back to Tourists!!

All of the temples in Asia are inspiring. We visited the most unbelievable Temple called The Shwedagon Pagoda also known as the Golden Pagoda and it is about 32o feet and is a gold gilded Stupa located in the city of Rangoon. The pagoda dominates the skyline of the city. It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese with relics of the past four last Buddha’s enshrined within. It is awesome.

On our way back to the hotel from the temple, we were arrested for taking pictures of a military garrison They interrogated Lotar for over 6 hours and searched our rooms and we were put on house arrest until leaving on the overnight train to Mandalay and now were escorted by an assigned internal security agent. We were segregated from the general population on the train ride so I snuck away from our guard and visited with the indigenous on the cars behind ours. The train ride was at night and rewarding. We awoke in Mandalay the next morning. We met these cute kids slated to become Buddhist monks and visited their school in Mandaly

Mandalay was a sleepy town with a hill temple that over looked the city with a large military garrison. I befriended a Catholic priest and we exchanged letters for many years. We helped him finically and had to deliver the money stashed in letters. From Mandalay we traveled to Pagan overland in a vary old beat up old bus

Along the way in a no name town we came across an induction ceremony into the Buddhist monkhood.  Very very cool.

Pagan is the most incredible town of nothing but temples over 1000 temples and it is a United Nations World Heritage site. Te Win was our guide.

Pagan was the sleepy town that time had forgot. It slept on the banks of the Irrawady River, a river that flowed endlessly in time. The majority of its 1000 temples were built in the 1000s to 1200s and the areas footprint covers more than 16 square miles. There are two preeminent ancient religious cities in Southeast Asia: Pagan in Burma and Angkor in Cambodia.

Both sites are notable for their expanse of sacred geography and the number and size of their individual temples. For many visitors Pagan is the more extraordinary of the two cities because of the view. The ruins of Pagan cover an area of 16 square miles that Sprawl across a vast dusty plain, the ruins of Pagan are unhidden. They’re being no trees to obstruct the view, one may gaze over forty square miles of countryside, upon literally thousands of temples. In the early morning, from Sulamani Temple, or in the late afternoon, from Gawdawpalin Temple, the view is among the very finest the world has to offer.

From here we then traveled onward to Inle lake and finally from here we traveled back to Rangoon and when I went to leave I was denied that opportunity because I did not change money at the bank and the military wanted me to change money at the bank rated with them.  Lotar resqued me saying he paid for my expenses.  Making money is a good thing on the black market but everyone wants their cut especially the Government.  Imagine 1100 percent  bid and asked spread between the fixed Government rate and the back seat of a taxi- I lived like a KING but it almost cost me jail not good

For me in my final memory as I departed Burma, The image that will become Burma is the Sun and the woman’s parasol the temples and the Irrawadi river.  It is a special  land of sun, umbrellas, temples and the Irawadi river. That coffee colored river coursing is way between the muddy banks carried entire families on it in river boats slowly drifting as though time did not exist.  Men fished with their nets and birds swooped down to catch their evening morsel. Life here is slow and peaceful river.  Yet it was the sun that rose and colored the landscape washing everything in its path. During he day it was hot and the Sun baked he earth and all that it kissed. Everything was overexposed and heat rose off the landscape creating mirages and wavering visions and reflections of colors off the slow moving water.  At sunset the sun painted the landscape in crimson blood orange and then life disappears into the blackness of night

Burma was shut down except for a fee at the Embassy in Thailand.  Remember, money does buy that which is closed.  After writing a letter stating the reasons why we wanted to visit Burma, paying a few people off in US cash and certifying we were not reporters, we were able acquire a visa and then we were required to surrender our passports a week in advance of leaving.  This left us no passport while staying in Thailand for that week.

We bordered a Burmese Aircraft that was advised as unsafe and out of the jurisdiction of the normal worldwide aircraft rules.  As we took off, the seat next to us tipped over.  Nice way to start a flight plus we were landing right after 1,000 students had been killed. It should be a fun adventure.

We were arrested in Rangoon and confined to the Strand hotel, traveled by train to Mandaly, overland by bus to Pagan then onward to Inle lake and finally back to Rangoon

From here we traveled back to Rangoon and when I went to leave I was denied that opportunity because I did not change money at the bank and the military wanted me to change money at the bank rated with them.  Lotar resqued me saying he paid for my expenses

For details on each location in Burma see below or scroll back up to the left side navigation.