Today I am writing from poolside in tropical Phuket, Thailand. We have taken a 5-day vacation from our trip around the world, which I realize sounds totally ridiculous. But, we have reached a point where we needed to do some serious planning for the upcoming month before we hit Nepal and Ghana (January/February). Lisa has handed over the planning reins for our next adventure. Here’s what I have thus far…
Our next destination is Burma (aka Myanmar). First things first… safety. How safe is it there? Well, according to my sources, Burma is the country where you are the least likely to be robbed in all of SE Asia. In fact, my tour book advises travelers to watch for shabby sidewalk stones to avoid tripping and falling into the roads or, even worse, a sewage ditch. Oh yeah, and there is a little paragraph or two about snakes or “vipers” as they are called there. Seems like a herpetologist got bit by a few years back and died. The advice given to the Japanese golfers is: Don’t get your ball if it’s in the “high grass.” I relayed to the family that vipers are more afraid of us then us of them. I’m sure that will stop RJ from chasing one down.
Next, what to do and where to begin? We have to get visas for Nepal or something (Lisa work) so we need a few days in what used to be called Rangoon but is now called Yangon. In Yangon, there is a big standing Buddha, a big reclining Buddha, and even a big Buddha you can climb into. I have a feeling I will be all Buddha’d out on my first day in a Buddha nation. That could be trouble. There is a snake temple we can see where there is a snake that is supposedly a reincarnated abbot. They feed it eggs and warm milk and it just sits around a Buddha, which it has been doing for over a hundred years. It’s listed the at the bottom of things to do, but, hey, it sounds fun to me!
So after getting visas, visiting umpteen Buddhas, and feeding warm milk to a snake, we are off on a bus (not made for westerners so the seats are really narrow) and a 5-hour ride with or without A/C, followed by getting into the back of a crowded pickup truck, being taken on a vomit-inducing ride to top of a mountain to see… nope, not another Buddha, but a big rock! Supposed to be some kind of Mecca thing for Buddhists, but it is painted gold… we have to see it. The boys and I can cross a small bridge and add a piece of gold foil to the rock. But Lisa can’t since she is a lowly female. I’m sure she’ll be happy to take some pictures.
Our next stop, in honor of my Uncle Dan, will be “birding.” There is a big lake with 125 species of birds that are getting the hell out Siberia and heading south for the winter. There could be millions of these fowl to see. The guide book says something about the need for bug repellent, mosquito nets, long sleeves, and something about a murky pool at the only hotel in the area. We will follow that up with a stop at a big lake with a floating village and (again ranked low in things to do) a temple where the Buddhist monks teach their cats to jump through hoops when they aren’t busy reading scripture. That is definitely something worth traveling around the world to see. I can’t wait to see the monks making cats do tricks!
After our time in lake town, we head to Bagan (land of many temples and snakes…er, I mean vipers) and see stuff and learn about the world some more.
Finally, we will return to Yangon and head off to our next destination. Yes, it get more vague as we progress, but how much can you really plan ahead? As my friend Aaron tells me, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
How of much of this will really happen? IDK. Are we willing to shift gears as needed,? Of course. Will our bus get waylaid by pirates? Who knows. But this article was just a glimpse of the things we try to plan over a couple of days before going there. We’ll let you know how it goes.