Friday, October 31, 2014

Arrived in Mandalay

I still have more to write about Bagan, where we explored temples via bicycle for 3 days, and walked and took a horse cart on one day.  I intended to write Blog notes on the long riverboat ride to Mandalay yesterday Halloween!), but as I explain below, that is not what happened.

We were on the riverboat from 5:30am until 7 pm.  Boat was pretty shabby.  All of Myanmar is pretty shabby, except for the exquisite temples, and a lot of them are in ruins, too.

I came down with what I think must have been a mild case of food poisoning.  Fever, diarrhea, and  no appetite.  I ended up going to sleep on the boat,stretched out across 3 airplane type seats.  I think I slept in about two-hour segments from about 9:30 a.m. to 4 pm.  I just couldn't stay awake.  But there was not a lot to see between the brilliant sunrise and beautiful sunset, anyway.  Mostly wide river between sandy and muddy banks and other than passing boats, not much sign of life.  There were not many passengers on the boat, mainly tourists.

 Sunrise on the Irriwady

So, I'm hoping that with a good night sleep tonight  I'll be better tomorrow and up to exploring Mandalay.  It is very third world-looking, although we couldn't see that much in the dark.  Lots of little shops and restaurants lit up, with people eating at tables under trees.  The boat arrived 2.5 hours late, and to disembark we had to walk a plank to another boat, then across a wobbly double plank to a dirt bank, and up carved dirt steps, all in the dark with the help of flashlights. Rather chaotic!

This hotel is apparently in the middle of downtown, but it doesn't look like we are in a city at all. No stop lights or stop signs.

Next morning.  I stopped writing and have just slept for another 10 hours or so.  Still feeling a bit wrung out and tired, but eager to see what this place looks like in daylight.  Right now from the window I see more buildings and a rooftop garden completely surrounded by razor wire, which I think says something about life here.  I can see a church steeple, but no pagodas or temples, although we saw many lit up as the boat came in last night.  What an adventure!

Whoever wrote the song about Mandalay must never have been here.  No bay, just the muddy river, and China is a couple of hundred miles across the mountains.

More later!

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