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Laotian steam sauna

April 22, 2017

What do you do on a lazy afternoon in Vientiane, in 40 degrees Celsius? You go to the steam room!

After Ms A left for Bangkok, I suddenly had nothing to do. Instead of drinking my second capuccino or third beer of the day, I decided to do something different in the hopes of a local experience. 

Thank god this place is not listed in the Lonely Planet (yet), so apart from three young monks and a sex tourist, I was the only visitor. The changing room, washing area and steam cabin itself are gender separated, although the whole area is quite small. Let’s face it, it’s someone’s back yard. 

There are various natural skin care products on sale as I discovered too late (oat rub, clay, honey), as well as unlimited hot green tea. Again, it’s about 40 degrees outside. Inside the cabin it is closer to 90 and they had wooden benches like in a classical sauna. A herbal mix consisting of Eukalyptus, lemongrass and various other things was set in a basket on top of the steam exhaust, filling the air with a nice aroma. 

I did three rounds of steaming in a rented sarong totally on my own in the female cabin. I skipped the massage since they only had the Chinese type on offer that day, with those suction cups on your back…. That would have been too authentic, even for me. 

Altogether it was really great and the outside temperature felt nice and cool afterwards. For 20,000 kip entry + 2,000 for the  sarong (less than 3 euros in total) I would highly recommend this as a local experience in the middle of downtown Vientiane, away from the usual tourist activities. 

A Mekong

April 15, 2017
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Phnompenben megüt a hő, izzik az aszfalt,

elhagyott papucsot a nap porrá aszalt. 

Sehol egy szellő, a levegő áll,

a Mekong folyik, folydogál. 

Északra haladva Angkor templomai várnak,

az emberiség köszönheti Suryavarman királynak. 

Az UNESCO van, pénzt szed, adminisztrál,

a Mekong csak folyik, folydogál. 

Laóba érkezve kezdődik az Újév,

az embereket látszólag elkapta a hév. 

Mindenhol víz, zene – a tömeg ordibál,

a Mekong folyik, csak folydogál. 

A nap lement, lassan hazamegyek,

sticky rice-t kajálnak az utcai ebek. 

a bulinak vége, mindenki szundikál,

a Mekong folyik, folydogál. 

Egy sabaideet kinyögök, annyit jelent hogy helló,

ha van ami nem hiányzik, az a meló. 

Az élet kellemesen csordogál,
a Mekongot követve folyik, folydogál. 

Lassan fél éve a világot járom,

az egész akció egy gyerekkori álmom. 

A gyomrom néha kivan, a hajam van mitől égnek áll,

a Mekong folyik, folydogál. 
Egyszer vége lesz ennek is, marad az emlék,

utazás nélkül mit is tennék?

A további terv még állatira nem áll,

a Mekong csak folyik, folydogál. 

Angkor details

April 5, 2017

Some pictures of the Angkor temple komplex, which I toured for the past three days, without words. 










The aesthetics of cheap breakfast

March 25, 2017

In my experience so far in SE Asia, you can get a cheap, tasty and filling breakfast at local food stalls or small bars almost anywhere. For 0.5 to 1.5 euros, you can leave behind the banana pancake/inedible toast and bacon trail and eat sweet bean filled pastry or chicken soup accompanied by green tea instead. 

Another advantage of going local at the start of the day is the opportunity to peoplewatch shamelessly. No one is going to question your sleepy presence, staring into the void at 7am. That’s late already by the way, I have frequently seen people getting up at 4am and having three course meals at 5. 

Sometimes you get the worst of the worst in terms of drinks, because all they have is instant coffee or Lipton’s black tea, two things that I simply cannot stomach any more. 

Ideally though, there is never ending fresh green tea in a retro thermos, the mugs are tiny, the colors bright and everything mismatches in a very stylish way. 

The best breakfast experience so far has come for free, in the shape of the nice lady preparing an elaborate meal every morning at my first homestay in Yogyakarta. Incredible. The food could have been enough for the whole day, had I been able to eat it all. 

There hasn’t been any real culture shock so far but I do miss the good old bread and butter sometimes. The last chance to get that was in Penang, Malaysia, where I discovered freshly baked German sourdough rye bread at a local bakery and was instantly in heaven. Oh well. Off to Cambodia and Lao now, let’s see what the mornings serve there. 

Farewell to Burma

March 24, 2017

At the Botahtaung Jetty, lookin’ lazy at the river,
I wonder about many things small, medium and bigger. 

Cocktail sizes are what really matter now,

the sun is setting, I’m late for happy hour!

Myanmar, Burma, call it what you may,

it’s been a thoroughly lovely 25 day stay. 

From the wooden vessels in dusty little Myeik,

to the fishermen posing for shots at Inle lake. 

From Lashio town where mainly Chinese sell,

to Yangon capitol, where the burmese hipsters dwell. 

By bus, by train, by bike – I saw many a site:

The pagodas so golden the rice ever so white. 

I’m off to Cambodia tomorrow but will have to be back,

Burma, I love you, off the beaten track! 

Owls everywhere

March 16, 2017
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I noticed them the very first day I entered Myanmar – the owls. As you guys know there is a global owl craze going on and I always wonder where these movements come from. Did some trend scout come here years ago to discover the potential of these cuties on everything from mugs to smartphone cases? Was it the invention of a desperate Greek entrepreneur to build on their long history of owl symbolism for an exit out of the crisis? (Think Greek one euro coin.) 

Or was it simply Harry Potter?

I don’t know. But I found a pretty good summary of humanity’s obsession with owls as symbols of wisdom, philosophy, good luck, bad luck, you name it, on a jewelry website of all places. (Selling personalized owl rings, of course.) In Myanmar they are supposed to come in pairs and are considered the lucky bird. I bought mine at a stall for temple gimmicks but have seen them everywhere since. 

Do you have an owl at home? Do you support the global owl craze? 

Mandalay – Mawlamyine 

March 16, 2017

BY THE old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,

There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;

For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:

“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay! ”

Come you back to Mandalay,

Where the old Flotilla lay:

Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay ?

On the road to Mandalay,

Where the flyin’-fishes play,

An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

This is the first verse of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “Mandalay” that he wrote while in Mawlamyine back in 1890. He was 24 and I can totally see him represented as the guy in the background of the first picture, lookin’ lazy at the sea, possibly thinking of a blonde girl in Rotterdam. Kipling never made it to Mandalay by the way and I don’t know if I will. 

Mawlamyine, called Moulmein by the British who like everyone else had difficulty pronouncing it, was nothing special for me. I skipped the pagodas and hung out at the waterfront all afternoon, hoping to get a better feel for the poem and the atmo. It worked!