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Farewell to Burma

March 24, 2017

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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 ol’ 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!

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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!

Fresh off the editing app: pictures of Nyangshwe market

March 15, 2017
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People often ask me what camera I use to take my pictures. Well, it’s been an iPhone 6 since this year, before it was the older model. For me, the best camera is the one that’s always at hand. I bought a fancy one back in the US, in the best electronics store of New York – and have never used it ever since!!! I schlepped it all the way to Fiji but it just wasn’t there quick enough when the light was perfect at sunset.

So here I am, traveling only with an iPhone, no other gadget. No e-reader, no tablet, no go pro, no shiny stuff that you fear to lose. It’s the best. I use the VSCO cam app sometimes to crop pictures, adjust the horizon line or add a little bit of contrast, but not much.

Read more…

A villanyhorgász

March 15, 2017
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Burma Inle taván, a világ végén igazán,

áll egy villanyhorgász tétován.

Messzi földről hozza az áramot,

vele együt csapot, papot, maszlatot.

Most már van tévé, akár botmixer,

férfi szoknya helyett kék farmer.

Az éttermekből szól a regi,

de a villanyhorgászt ez nem érdekli.

Amit kértek, küldtek, ő hozott.

A világ mindig is változott.

Magic travel moments…

March 13, 2017
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… don’t look like this. At least not for me typically. Because the reality behind such pictures are the crowds, the noise, the pushing, the souvenirs made in China surrounding you at major sights like the Golden Rock in Kyaikto. No doubt, the light was perfect. So was cellphone reception: I received a skype call from my parents just after I took this pic! At least the locals heard some Hungarian probably for the first time in their lives.

Usually I don’t have a photo of my best travel moments. The unexpected encounters, the great views, the deserted beaches and jungle sounds, the conversations that stick with you. Like my all time favorite chat with the Ghanian farmer back then.

Or I do have a photo but because I am somewhere remote, it takes several days to have internet again, so I don’t write about them, digitally forget them. Here are two recent exceptions that I was able to document and I can’t believe I haven’t written about them so far. Read more…

An afternoon on the bike in Hpa-An

March 10, 2017
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I have to force myself to slow down in this country full of wonders that is Myanmar. It is so tempting to pack as much as I can in my 28 day tourist visa! But my experience tells me: stick around, connect and you will be rewarded. You discover a nice café, talk to the girl at the reception and start to notice local differences in traditional dress.

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Read more…