Inle Lake....floating gardens surround the lake, fishermen canvas the area in search of .....well, fish, and hellos are only sometimes followed by 'money'.
Unfortunately, like anywhere else worth seeing, Inle lake is quickly becoming touristy. Like anywhere else, you can't throw a brick without hitting a travel agency (though it is tempting, I have not tested this theory), people constantly try to sell boat rides, souvenirs, etc.
The scenery, spectacular....hopefully, the place won't turn into another SE Asian tourist trap.
A quick visit seemed enough. The ancient cities around Mandalay were spectacular, though a little on the tourist-trappy side.
The monks here are friendly, and love to practice their English. Conversations with monks surprisingly did not lead to donation requests.
4000 temples, and 5000 people selling garbage to tourists.
Though the people in this country are usually friendly, usually, there is a catch. In places such as Bagan, where the tourist concentration is high, a Hello is unfortunately usually followed by something else.
'Hello Money' appears to be the standard greeting in places such as Bagan. It truly represents how people see the foreigner....as someone they want to be nice to, just to beg for money or sell junk.
Well, the sellers I understand, but the 'hello money' greeting gets annoying quickly.
All a part of backpacking travel.
A few days in Yangon, a few minor scams, and most importantly, a cool guide.
I met a great guide who took me to a local monastary where I had the opportunity to teach English.
The students were enthusiastic, energetic, and sometimes confused. This is what makes travel exciting, not taking postcard-competing photos of the same temple every other tourist has seen.
Bangkok sure knows how to create an authentic Chinese new year celebration. The dancing, the animal shows (tiger/dragon costumes), and the crowds (true, authentic packed streets!).
After a futile 15 minute attempt to get through the crowds to see the shows for the celebration, I gave up. Early to bed for a quick beachy day in Hua Hin.
Hat Yai is ready to party. .....always. At midnight, it's still ready to party.
Meaning, some bored waitstaff sit outside, and a few old fat guys are sitting inside, with some off-key live music playing at the bar.
Total cost.....60THB for beer, 10THB for tips. NOT worth it.
Taking a nap by the Georgetown marina was a BAD idea...especially since I didn't wear sunblock and now look like the spokesmodel for red lobster.
Heading up to Thailand from Georgetown, I decided to take the train...big mistake.
10MR got me to the border, where I had no choice but to buy a ticket up to Hat Yai...on the same train. Had to run to change ringets into baht, then run back to the station manager to buy tickets. The station manager short changed me by 200THB, and when I noticed I heard the train whistle.
200THB is 200THB....decided to argue with the station manager to get my money back....I hear the train starting.
He now gives me the correct change (out of his wallet), and I run to catch the train, jump onboard the moving train, ruck on my back, just in time.
.....now that I think about it, I did see the manager pocketing the ticket $$, rather than using the drawer.
But, I now have a 'had to jump onboard a moving train' story. It looks a lot more fun in cowboy movies.
The legends of unique foods are true of Georgetown. Chinatown--dodge cars, busy streets. Little India-smell of incense and curry shops, bollywood music blasting.
Can't stay long w/out a beach though. Batu Ferringhi was a fun beachtown, though Jetskis made the beach muddy. Took a walking toor through the rainforest around the island, overlooking the Penang coastline.
Off to Thailand now.
Charming Chinatown, Dutch district, and streets decorated for lunar new year.
Curry shops, sweet tea and coffee, and silk products are sold everywhere I look.
A little too civilized for me though. Might catch the ferry to Dumai tomorrow.
Highrise buildings, clean streets, marked prices, and I only found one tout in the whole city (a fortune teller...though I think I'm a lot better).
No bums, or drunkards (found 1 drunk guy!), no drunk fratboys, the subways smell nice, no litter, no urine smell. Cigarrette cartons are sold at 5 times the US retail price, with pictures of what cancer tucked into the cover.
My highlight though was a beachnap at East Coast Park, just before catching the bus across the border to Malaysia.
I had a dream...that I lived in a quiet suburban home, worked the corporate world, people spoke English, and I didn't stand out or get stared at.
A place where prices are marked, haggling is not needed, and I was never touted to buy products.
A place where rain and snow are common...
My rucksack and passport lay fallow, collecting dust...
Time to wake up, ruck packed, passport onhand, camera charged, board another plane, land in another airport, find another guesthouse in a place I don't know.
I'm wide awake now.