Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Final step

We are in Myanmar since a few days now. After roughly one week in Laos, where we visited Luang Prabang and Vientiane, we flew to Yangon, the capital of Myanmar. What a change from the other three countries. Yangon is a big city of 5 million people and it doesn't look like a typical South East Asian city. Actually, it reminded us more of Delhi than Bangkok with its traces of British architecture and the way people (men mostly) stared at us (well, at my girlfriend mostly). It was not at all an animosity look but more one of curiosity since there are very few Western tourists wandering in the streets.

We did not stay long in Yangon: just enough to see the Shwedagon Pagoda (one of the most beautiful in the world according to various guide books and we'd have to agree) and a bit around the city center. We then took the train to Mandalay. It's a 700km ride that takes 15 hours. We took the superior sleeper class that has four berths and a separate bathroom. Well, it was not quite what we expected for $55/pax: it was old, dusty and dirty and a bit creepy since there was no access to the rest of the train from our private cabin. But overall it went ok. Sure, we had a terrible night but we arrived safe in Mandalay.

We are now in Mandalay, a city much smaller than Yangon and we are getting ready for our nine hours boat trip tomorrow to Bagan. That sure is going to be another adventure...

I won't blog much more since we are getting deeper into the country and my guess is that there won't be an easy access to Internet from there. We are then back to Bangkok on the 28 where we booked the last three nights of our trip in a five star hotel to forget about the $10 guesthouses we stayed in throughout our trip.... and then back to London on August 31.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Live from Phnom Penh

We are in the capital of Cambodia since three days, after a visit of Angkor. We took a plane from Bangkok to Siem Reap. Siem Reap is used as a base to visit the Angkor complex: about 1000 temples on a 400 sq km surface, most of them build between the 9th and the 12th century.

We visited the main temples in two days but you can buy 3-days or even 7-days pass. Unless you are a real fan of old stones, you won't be staying seven days in Angkor but two days was quite fine. Since it is currently not allowed to rent motobikes, we used a tuk-tuk to drive us around the temples. Now if you were thinking that you would be going around the temples alone, like Lara Croft (since the Tomb Raider movie was shot in Angkor), well think again. It is quite a crowded place with lots of tourists pouring into the main temples out from their huge A/C buses. Even when going early, you will see other tourists (believe me, we went at 5am on the first day) but still, it's a must-see in South East Asia.

We then took the bus for Phnom Penh (6 hrs ride) and it's a nice city on the river with lots of bars and restaurants to spend some quality time but we are not staying long: we are off to Vientiane (Laos) in two days.