One night in Bangkok (From Mandalay to Thimphu)

One night in Bangkok (From Mandalay to Thimphu)

Mingun, Myanmar

Mingun, Myanmar

On our last day in Mandalay we went to Mingun, the place where they once started to build the largest stupa of all times. It should have been bigger than the pyramids in Gizeh. Slight problem: it was never finished. There’s only the base and that has been badly damaged over time, also because of earthquakes. Nevertheless it was still an impressive sight. It was already very hot when we arrived. That was mainly because the boat’s engine stalled twice and on the fast flowing Ayeyar river that quickly becomes floating in the wrong direction. That’s what happens when you have an all female crew. Get a dude on board and the problem is fixed. And so it happened. 😉

The next day we traveled to Nyaung Shwe, a village near the Inle Lake. Inle is a large freshwater lake where the Intha minority once arrived but since they were denied land rights they went to live on the lake. They built complete villages of house on stilts and also created enormous floating gardens. On these aqua cultures they grow fruits and vegetables. It’s pretty weird to see endless rows of tomato plants that are floating on the water.

Inle Lake floating gardens, Myanmar

Inle Lake floating gardens, Myanmar

On our first day we rode bikes and chartered a long tail boat to ferry us to the other side. The next day we made a larger tour around the lake of over six hours. We have photographed the nicely posing traditional fisherman who did his famous trick: balance on the front of his little boat on one leg while wrapping his other leg around his paddle to control the boat. This leaves his hands free for operating his net. We did see that real fishermen still do this. It was great being on the water for most of the day but after that you’re sick and tired of the incredible noise the Chinese diesel engines that they use are making.

In the mean time we have traveled from Inle via Yangon, while we spent a very short night in Bangkok, had a stop-over in Kolkata (Calcutta), to Bhutan. Four countries in a day so to say.

Men in Gho at Thimphu Dzong

Men in Gho at Thimphu Dzong

Bhutan is very special because they have limited tourism. That’s how they try to preserve their own culture and identity and to make sure it all remains sustainable. A very noble way. The result is that you can only travel there with a mandatory guide. To support for all this, you are required to pay 250 dollar. Per person. Per day.

We were picked up by our personal guide with a driver and car, both wearing the national dress, the Gho. That is a bit of a mix of a kilt and a thick kimono with knee high socks underneath. They really pushed it: on our way to the capital Thimphu we were taken to a private temple, visited the local fortress (Dzong), the market and zoo to see Bhutan’s animal, the takin. We also drank the locally brewed (rice)wine and butter tea, tried on the Gho and shot with bow and arrow. We are very busy.

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