logbook1.gif (2755 bytes)

money_small_anim3.gif (11952 bytes)

Bagan - Mandalay - Chiang Mai 5-7 December

Bagan was beautiful.   Unlike Mandalay, which hadn't quite lived up to my expectations - I think it would have been much more romantic 50 years ago with less dust and traffic - Bagan far exceeded them. The vast numbers of temples spread out over 20 square miles were as I'd envisaged them.  It was our hotel with a wonderful view over the wide river to hills the other side from a lovely garden that really exceeded all expectation.  The Bagan Thande hotel was also excellent value for money.  The deluxe bungalow overlooking the river, with well designed interior with teak walls and floor, was just $54 a night including breakfast.  Ray was happy too, because he had a very nice standard room for $18.  We decided to take it easy and not spend our only full day in Bagan exhausting ourselves by getting an overdose of temples.  We took a horse cart and driver in the morning to see the most important temples, and then returned to the hotel for lunch and siesta before venturing out again an hour or so before sunset to view the temples  from the top of one of them.

As we prepared to descend the steps of the temple after sunset, Flemming heard a young Danish boy speaking his native language.  Whenever I hear someone speaking English, it's not much of an event, but it's a different story for Flemming with only 5 million Danes in existence.  He got chatting to them and made an even more exciting discovery: they are also "earthrounders" with the difference that they are sailing around the world, heading west instead of east as most sailors do to profit from the trade winds.  They have been sailing for 5 years.  The wife, Stine, is a teacher and has been looking after their young son Thomas' education.  The husband and skipper, Niels, is also a doctor, another useful attribute.  They joined us for a drink at our hotel where we caught the last of the fading light over the river and hills.

The next morning we breakfasted at sunrise in order to leave for the airport by 7 am for our 8.20 a.m. Air Mandalay flight back to Mandalay.  Back at Mandalay airport, the General Manager and Assistant Manager, Mr.`Thant, took care of us again.  We chatted to Mr. Tuu Huang (General Manager), who told us  he was also a pilot with 4000 plus hours in his logbook, mostly helicopters. He had survived two air accidents and proudly showed us the scars on his face.   The airport handling fee turned out to be $70 instead of the $15 they had originally quoted.  It still wasn't extortionate, but the whole bill including landing and parking fees came to $321, quite enough for a 5-night stay.

After a group photo with our VIP handling committee, we took off to another blue skies and tailwind.flight.  However, as we approached Chiang Mai just under 2 hours later, we met with the first towering cumulus of our journey!  I had got so used to fine weather that I wasn't prepared for being kicked around.  I was none too happy.  Ray just commented that at last he could feel we were actually flying.  Luckily for me, we were out of it in less than a minute, but it served to remind me that as red tape gets smoother, the weather will get rougher from now on.

Chiang Mai airport looked modern and nondescript like the average European airport.  This was first time we spotted other small aircraft on the apron, so our arrival didn't cause any waves.  Nevertheless, it was a while before we were free to leave the airport because we had to wait close to an hour for the immigration officer to arrive.  Since there were no international flights scheduled at that time, he had to be called in from home.  He apologised for the delay, saying that his car had broken down about 1 kilometre from the airport, and he'd had to walk the rest of the way.

The Lonely Planet guide warned us that taxi drivers will try and take you to a different hotel than you intended to go to because they get commission from the hotels that are not good enough to be recommended in the guide books.  Thus, I wasn't surprised when he said:`"You don't want to stay at the Riverview Lodge.   There are too many mosquitoes there." I replied curtly that we would see for ourselves.  Riverview Lodge turned out to be very pleasantly located by the river with a nice garden.  The only snag was that they only had one triple room left with few windows and no view.  However, it was on two levels so would be OK to share with Ray if we found nothing more suitable.  We tried 3 more hotels: the first only had rooms for 1 night, the second had been turned into a residence for missionaries and the third was the one the taxi driver recommended.   It just served to confirm my suspicions that it would be lousy!  So we returned to the Riverview Lodge and enjoyed a beer in the garden.  Ray watched football on TV while Flemming and  I decided where to eat that evening.  The restaurant recommended in the guide book for northern   Thai food was rather disappointing as far as I was concerned.  The food was OK and really cheap, but it was served on linoleum tables and we ate off plastic plates.   Not my idea of fine dining!  After dinner we went to the night bazaar that Chiang Mai is famous for.  It's supposed to be the place where you "shop until you drop".  But we were too tired to shop and just sipped a margarita and watched the world go by.  There were many more young westerners here than we'd seen up to now.

Click on image to enlarge, click browser back to return

14-Bagan_Artist.jpg (44537 bytes)

Artist at Bagan temple

14-Bagan_Oxen_Cart.jpg (50319 bytes)

Rice harvest with Oxen, Bagan

14-Bagan_Horse_Cart.jpg (45996 bytes)

Our horse cart in Bagan

14-Burmese_Children.jpg (38355 bytes)

Burmese children, Bagan

14-Bagan_Sunset.jpg (32558 bytes)

Sunset from the top of Shwesandaw Paya, Bagan

14-Bagan_Pagoda.jpg (30936 bytes)

Bagan pagoda

14-Sunset_Boy.jpg (41052 bytes)

Burmese boy with scale at Bagan temple

14-Mandalay_Departure.jpg (29163 bytes)

The VIP handling committee at Mandalay int. airport. Mr. Thant second from left and Mr Huang right.

plane_prev_home_next3.gif (2099 bytes)