Main Page    All Journeys    Travel Tips


Photos   Map & Plan


Diary 1  2  3  4  5  6 

From Diary 5 and the amassing Bagan, I now try to reach the western coast.
As I leave the hotel at nine, I realises; I have spend four nights here- a new record. A sedan bring me to the bus station, and  what appears to be a shared taxi, bring me south to Magwe/Magway. Next to me sit the British Rafael, who make a great companion on the tour. He seems to live his life quite like me, and we have many stories to share.

The landscape starts with farmland. Then start the Banyan trees to almost form an alley along the road. The ox-wagons are numerous, and the harvest seems to be at its end. Despite the fields are rather big, all transport are done by the ox-wagons and the harvesting by hand.
Then we reach what appears to be almost a desert with small, round hills, partly covered in yellow grass. Later, what look like Australian gum-trees; Eucalyptus takes over for some time. Then the farmland returns, and here, the Indian white oxen are replaced with ginger ones. We pass some huge rivers, although they do seem a bit dry and sandy.

Around noon, we do a short lunch break in a little village. Soon after, we reach Magway. Here, we split up; he have to wait four hours for his next bus, I want to start exploring - after a quick cup of tea.
I think I'm around three kilometres from the river, and the two things I have planed to see here, is a long bridge and some mud-volcanoes on the other side of the bridge.

Several moped drivers offers their service, but I'm not that interested, especially when they fail to understand; "Bridge"," river" and "water".
I walk down what must be the main street. Some fancy houses, some bamboo sheets, some chickens and goats and shops.

As I had hoped, I reach the market next to the river. It is rather big, but here are only familiar things, and I only do a breath look around.
At the river side, I get a good picture of the 1800 meter long bridge - which fails to impress me. Well, intimidate me, as I loos the urge to cross it by foot. I find a group of moped drivers, and with the help from the shop keepers, we manages to find out; I want to cross the bridge to see the "Burning Mud"/"Dragons Lake"/Nga Ka Pwe Yaung.
Although, I am fare from sure that is where I'm going.

It is quite a detour to get on to the bridge. It then leads to an island, and another branch of the river is crossed by another bridge, which again leads to a big loop. We pass a huge pagoda, and I fear that could be the moped drivers target. Luckily, we passes it, and drive out in what look as a primitive industrial area - similar to what I found on Google maps.

And here are a huge area, covered in sterile mud. The tallest volcano have been vandalised with a crappy building in tin-plates and a real shitty brick-wall. It is real rarely I see nature's wonders corrupted this bad!
I do a walk around, and remove some of the trash from the smaller volcanoes, just to get a picture. Despite the plastic trash, partly embedded in the clay, the amateur buildings and the general appearance as a dumpsite, the bobbling mud is fascinating. It should be butane, and it should burn, but the bobbles are not constantly enough to maintain a flame. I try to get some pictures with only nature on, and then I find my driver.

With the help of some Burman tourists, I get the driver to take me to the Pyay/Pye bus station. It is only three, and I have seen every thing here, including most of the town. The 20 kilometre tour sets me back 6.000K. I'm glad I don't have to work like that!
As expected, it is another bus station. They even have a bus within 90 minutes. I spend the time getting a lunch/dinner and a walk around the area. Some drunks are real eager to help me out of good hearts, but I find it a bit annoying.

It is another minibus, and I get the shotgun seat. We leave 40 minutes ahead of schedule! It should be 189 kilometres, and four hours. A bit late to arrival in Pyay, but I feel like saving half a day or more. And I kind of have seen Magway. The road is just as bumpy and narrow as the road who brought me here. We have to slowdown significantly, when we meet one of the many trucks and busses.
The landscape is unchanged, both large fields, deserts and villages, rivers and ox-wagons. We do a few stops, and the else so stuffed minibus get more and more empty. After dark, we do a short dinner break, and the ticket man offers me a cup of tea.
As we head on in the dark, we have to stop every time we meet someone - or they have to. The pot-holes in the roadsides are too dangerous to drive into in the dark.

Soon after dinner, we reach a larger town, and I'm the only remaining passenger. The find a large bus and transferee me, so they can go home sooner.
The bus does not drive however. It turns out a passenger refuses to leave the bus, but four police officers help him! We head on, still stopping to meet others, and I start to worry; I have missed my town. My GPS stop to work properly, and I'm really in the dark!

Then I get the hint, and find my self in the outskirts of a larger city: Pyay/Pye. A cup of tea, and the first one speaking English - and French at the same time, try to help me. A moped to a reasonable priced hotel. But their last hot-water-room have gone. The next hotel have no hot water, one won't have foreigners, then a 70.000K which look good, but...

End up at a 20.600K hotel with a shitty, three bed room but great internet and hot, shared bath. This city seems so much more expensive than all the others I've been in. It must be good...
I start working way passed ten, and it get late! The slideshows I have made recently are uploaded.

22/12 I share breakfast with a few other backpackers. The last pale-faced I see today. I walk down to the mighty Ayeyarweddy River, which look like a big fjord. Along it, I find the huge Pyay market. I try to find out how big it is, but apparently, it is endless. The only edge I find, is the corner I entered it in.
Here are everything! I try to capture the best parts, but as usual, here are more motives than light. Here are for a first shrimps and large tobacco leaves along with endless mounts of homemade cigarettes.

After a hour and a half, and a cup of tea in the middle of this organised chaos, I forces myself to leave, and head for the Shwesandaw Pagoda, placed on a small hill, in the middle of town.
As usual, the flip-flops have to stay outside, while the entire staircase is plastered with shops. At the top, several pagodas, Buddha statues, huge bells and a little museum is found. And as a surprise; a small orchid collection.
Next to the hill is a rather large sitting Buddha.

Half pass ten, I have had enough of the big city, and find a moped to drive me out to the ancient town of Sri Ksetra. It was the capital around 6-700 AD, and it is said to be a bit like Bagan. Well, it is not.
It is a 25 square kilometre large area with mainly farmland and a few foundations left of the rampant and palace. I meet many herds of goats and ox-wagons, and the farmers bamboo houses are everywhere.

Small areas of disturbed nature is found scattered around in the waste area, and I try to find something interesting, along with buildings from ancient times. A few ponds are still filled with water - and grass or rice. The old rampant can be found most way around the symbolic remains of the palace.

The few building left here is actually outside the outer wall, and in the fare end. I enjoy the piece but wished I have brought water. Luckily, one of the farmer have a little shop, and here are two bottles of water.
In the fare distance, I can see the huge Bawbawpyi stupa, and I try to find a connecting gravel road. It is a huge building, and it seems to be able to stand the earthquakes.

Next to it is a few, smaller buildings from around 700-1300 AD. Nothing impressive - after Bagan. I get a few photos of some plants I don't recognises, and some I do.
The way back leads me through a village, where the farmers are working with different tasks. Some are cleaning white beetroots (or what they are called in English. Danish; Majroer).

Right out of the area, i find some tea - or is it coffee? Then I start walking the ten kilometres back to town. I get a short lift to Thayekhittaya town with a private pick-up, and not long out of the mainroad, an other pick-up pick me up.

Back in Pyay, I jump of before the centre of town. The central place is marked with a golden horse and man, but dominated by the large billboards. I do a walk up and down the entire mainstreet, but fail to find any food. When I return to the central area, the night market have started to get alive. A thick pancake with a fried egg is real tasteful, and the tea afterwards great.

Then I return shortly to the hotel to find out, how to get to the beach. The host have a great offer: Shotgun in a minibus at eight in the morning, eight hours driving, and I'll be in Ngapali. It is around 250 kilometres accordantly to my GPS, and it could be across a mountain range. 18.500K is a bit steep, but if it really is eight hours of great landscape, it might be worth it.

Back in town to catch the last sun beams on the Shwesandaw Pagoda, and then around the night market to find some deep fried tofu, spicy noodles and another pancake with egg.
I feel I have walked enough for one day, and return to my room to work. At eight, I do a quick stroll around the night market - but I don't buy a pancake!
Then I make some slideshows from the day: Pyay town, market and Pagoda and Ancient Sri Ksetra.

23/12 The shuttle bus is on the dot - which unfortunately can't be said about my hotel breakfast. A drive cross town to a bus station, where I have almost a hour to find breakfast, while they make a copy of my passport. I can get all kind of roasted meat, but finally I find some deep fried bread.

It turns out to be the same minibus that is my drive of the day. I get the promised shotgun seat, while two Germans have to share the crammed seats with tinted windows and a carsick old woman.
We drive to the edge of town, and cross the hug river. Then the mountains starts. The first part being a bit dry, but as we gain altitude, the green takes over.

We pass small villages and wooden bridges. The villages are real out in the wild, and seems so undeveloped, compared to where else I have been. At ten, me make a longer stop at a tiny village with a control-post, to get something to eat, and I do a tour around the area.

Someone have a giant hornbilled as a pet. It plays with the poppies and their laundry. Apparently a real intelligent animal. Several of the tiny shops have orchids for sale, at least five species. I have seen many in the trees we have passed.
Some of the old "Hino Immortal" trucks are parked along the roadside, while others passes bye in a cloud of black smoke. The Germans remain in the bus.

Out in the wild, the road turn to gravel in some stretches, and pigs and water buffalos are tied up along it. The only road signs are about horns: Blow your horn before most corners. The clouds takes over, but the mountain views are still fantastic, although impossible to capture from a moving car. We passes several control-points where the driver have to present only my passport. Apparently, I am not aloud to jump off the bus on this stretch, as they are in a state of civil-war. Journalists are completely banned.

At two, my but get much deserved break in a larger town: Taunggok. I find a quick meal; cold noodles with spices - which turns out to be a real bad choice. The I see the local temple, how the boys play their bob-game, and I also find some orchids, grown on coconuts.

We head on, and passes tuck-tucks with water buffalos and pigs on. A few places, we crosses large rivers, and the flat areas along them are rice patches, which just have been harvested. Then we pass through a area where chicken are bread in huge houses.

At six, after ten hours on the road, we reach the beach at Ngapali. The Germans have a reservation - of cause, but are not that eager to pay US$35 for a room with shared bath. Our driver do a huge effort to find us something better, and drive us up and down the costal road. But the hotels are either real posh and charge US$99 for an single, or locals that are full. Finally, he find us a nice place 500 metres from the coast, where only locals live. I get a real nice room with toilet for 20.000K, which seems to be a bargain around here.

I drop the bag and head back to a restaurant. At seven, I'm back in my room, and go right to bed: No energy at all! It turns out the cold noodles were something more, and I spend the next 36 hours regretting that choice badly.
The family I stay with is fantastic; they find a kid who speak a bit of English, and I'm offered a ride to the doctor. They also bring me food and pills at my room. I just want to sleep...
Days after, I get to make the slideshow; Mountains from Pyay to Ngapali.

24/12 I forces my self to walk the 500 metres to the beach around noon, and are completely exhausted, when I reach it. I have a one kilometre perfect cove with white sand and palm trees, all to my self and two friendly dogs. I lay in the shadow to gain strength for the long way home and my bed. In the evening, I find a bunch of bananas, and call it a day.

25/12 I almost feel alive, and join in for breakfast. Then I start on my laundry, but figures my pans will need quite some soaking in the cold water, after 25 days of misuse. I planned to catch-up with the rest of the world, but a 12 hour "brown-out" (planned power-off) prevents me from doing that.

I get through the last days pictures, do the laundry, and then I need a extensive power-nap. Around noon, I do the walk down to the beach, and a stroll on the one kilometre perfect sandy beach with coconut palm trees. At each end of the beach, some strange rocks form a barrier. Some local tourists want to show me something, might be a cave, but I lack the energy to follow them.
I have to do with the gobies in the ponds, and a sea-cucumber or something alike. When I reach the hill and all its vegetation, I fail to find a way into it.

Fishermen are drying their catch of small fish on the beach, while two small hotels are used by Yangon families. I buy an overpriced Sunkist, and use their beach chair for yet another nap. Then a bit further out the beach to capture a photo of the small fishing boats.

Back at my hotel, it is straight to bed. I am so lucky that this "tourist stomach" happened here, with a nice room and good toilet, a fantastic family who cares, and time to recover. Considering I have been travelling for more than four and a half years in total, and the amount of street food and tapwater I have consumed, I consider my self very lucky only having experienced this once!

At dusk, I do a long walk on the beach road to find an ATM. I find several after a few kilometres, but all out of order. I guess the Brown-out can be blamed. A moped with sidecar bring me back to a seafood restaurant, which can offer fried rice with vegetables. After that, I need a nap. My stomach is still not quite all right, I keep having a fewer, and my energy level is about 20% - all in all a clear improvement from yesterday.

26/12 And then again; at midnight, my stomach takes control over my life, and keep me busy until dawn. When I join in for breakfast, I meet a police officer right outside my door. Then 20 more in full show-uniform in the restaurant.  More than I have seen in total!

The internet is still malfunction, and I retire to my bed. I have to realise, I can't cure myself with the Immodium (stop-pils), and get the family to organise a ride to the local doctor. He speak quite well English, and confirm that I will have to have the bacteria killed. He describe Metronidazole and Ciprofoxacin to do that, Paracetamil to lover my fever and some rehydration salts. And he tell me not to eat vegetables! All for 20.000K, and I won't bother using my insurance for that.

We try two ATMs on the way back, but as we have yet another Brown-out, they won't cooperate. I reach back to my toilet just in time, and use the afternoon in the comfort zone: Five metres away or less. This is a fantastic beach area, and the inland vegetation is so tempting - but I have no energy at all!
A short tour across the street to buy a bus ticket for to morrow, but the next two days are apparently full? I get the family to sort that out, while I do what I do best these days.

At four, I head out on a five kilometre walk, just to find an ATM that works. I am completely exhausted, and have to take a moped-with-side-car back. I pay my bill at 62.000K and add 63.000K for the good care they have taken  of me. At six, I pack my bag and call it a day. I had not planned to spend much time at the beach, but I would have like a bit more!

27/12 I feel quite alive in a good way this morning. The 7;00 bus is 20 minutes early, but we head backwards. It turns out the few foreigners have to have their passports copied at the bus station. At eight we head down the coastal road for the 400 kilometre drive to Yangon.

There is a mist hanging over the rice patches, but the tinted windows and the non-windowseat spoil the pleasure a bit. It is a beautiful coastal road, but the narrow, one lane and very winding road is not mend for a large bus. The average speed never exceeds 30 kilometre a hour.

We pass many river mouths and coves with coconuts, and one tiny rice patch after the other. Then, after five hours, we turn inland in Gwa, and meet the mountains. We have so fare driven 170 kilometres! It is another great scenery, but the check-points make it impossible to jump of. The locals have to present their ID cards in person, where the ticketboy just collect our passports and present them for us.

Two Canadian women tell me, one have to apply for permission at three government offices and the local village, if one want to jump of  - in advance. That does explain why there are no records of plants and animals in this country!
We reach the central plain, and the road straightens out, although it does not turn wider.

At nine, after 14 hours of driving, we reach Yangon. I've been speaking with six Britts, and they have a hotel-plan. We share two taxis into town, but their reservation turns out to be another hotel. This one only have room for one, and I go for it. I leave my passport and the money, but bring my bag alongas I don't see the room, as I follow them a few blocks to their hotel.

Then they show me a nice Indian restaurant, and we get some real good, vegetarian dishes. A bit pass eleven, I'm back, and it turns out "my room" already have seven other sleeping people in it. Well, can't win them all. I do the diary, but not the photos.

28/12 Despite the room is real quiet, I don't get much sleep. I guess the last three days including most of the last bus drive's sleeping, have brought me up to speed - or down? At breakfast, I spend quite some time talking to a American photographer before I finish my own photos, and finally get into town in the heat.

It is a small hour walk to the impressive Shwedagon Pagoda, which is placed on a hilltop. Next to it is a flower park - by name. I would just call it a park, although they do have a large shadow-house with a small collection of un-interesting plants. I do a tour around, just to be sure, and find back to the entrance for the pagoda.

Several escalators bring the visitors up to the top from one side. Another side have lifts. Along the main pagoda, numerous temples, pagodas and alike are scattered around the area.
The area also features a large museum with endless Buddha statues in gold, ivory, silver, jade and gold-covered holy wood. Buddha foot-prints filled with precious and semi-precious stones, huge and almost hollow tusks with numerous Buddha figures and much, much more. Just as I finish the last room, they closes up. Never mind, despite there were no signs (I could read) saying "No Photo", it was not aloud.

Back outside, I try to get some images of the not too LED-up-lighted Buddha figures, and by pure luck, I find a group of young nuns in prayer. I have less luck at the giant gongs. Not a single child get tempted, and I can't get my self to hammer it. But the bells get their banning for sure. By the kids and adults.

It is a bit hard to see it, way up on the top of the big pagoda, but here are actually half a ton of gold and 4.351 diamonds with a total carat of 1.800. And then there are all the other gems and the big vane with its 2000 assorted gems. It weight half a ton as well.

I feel a bit peckish, and last night, after have been starving for three days (due to lack of hunger) and because my doctor said "no vegetables", I babbled about pizza to the young Brits. And on the other side of the road, I see the word Pizza. I get a fairly descent "Thin Crusty" vegetarian style, but have to pay 14.000K. I categorises that as my Christmas dinner of the year.

From here, I head down to the river and the harbour area. Real old ferries and freighters along with river-taxis. I do a short walk along the docks, but return to the hotel, to get some work done. It is Cambodia tomorrow, I would like to finish up everything here tonight.

Dinner is a bit tricky; I don't dare street-food the evening before my flight, but it is a long walk to Little Delhi. My new New York Jewish friend recommend another nearby restaurant, and I get a great tasting tofu in, what best can be described as the best spiced Italian tomato sauce ever!
I get the hotel to arrange a taxi for the airport in the morning.
I then make a slideshow of the general photos from the south-western corner, and find the best 105. And then it is too late again...

To sum everything up a bit: I have spend the legal four weeks here, and got around as much as I was aloud to. That was not that much actually, but I have travels quite some kilometres by public busses, but only taken 3939 photos. The people have been absolutely fantastic, the nature some what disappointing, the travelling a bit slow and painful and the amount of plastic trash astonishing. The price, including the flight, insurance and all, turned out quite low:

Flight (1/3 tour) 3.660 491
Local transport 1.363 183
Enters 615 82
Insurance, visa,  810 146
Gadgets 277 37
Food, drink 888 119
Hotels 2.712 364
 Total: 10.325 1.422

Next stop; CAMBODIA