Friday, March 20, 2009


Mandalay was not my favourite city in Burma, but it was MUCH more interesting than the current capital, Yangon (formerly "Rangoon"). Mandalay has a variety of nightly performances, including puppet shows, comedy troupes, and traditional dance. Also, like the other parts of the country I've seen, there are many Buddhist pagodas and monasteries, and don't forget The Glass Palace!

How to get around in Mandalay? Call Mr. Trishaw! As you walk down the streets of Mandalay there is no shortage of 'trishaw' drivers competing for your business. On one occasion a driver actually followed us for 2 blocks, then into a tea house where he continued to pester us. He showed us a book with signatures and notes from his many satisfied customers. "Look, I have served many Canadians! I have many Canadian friends!" he said, trying to win us over as we tried to look at our menus. In the end we went back to this guy (see photo) who had said only "I'll be here by this tree if you need me." and didn't follow us at all. If anyone is in Mandalay and needs a good trishaw guy you can contact him at - his name is "Toke Paw".

Mr. Trishaw pedalled us around Mandalay for 2 days to many great sites. Here are some white pagodas near the base of Mandalay hill.

Believe it or not, this is a BOOK. Yes, a massive piece of literature carved into a thousand or so pieces of stone, each one with it's own little house. Can Ian read between the lines?

Locals also use the trishaws to get around. This lady uses the extra seat for her shopping.

Old monastery constructed out of intricately carved sandalwood.

Famous with the people and infamous with the government, Burmese comedian Par Par Lay poses in handcuffs. He has been arrested and put in prison 3 times for his unrelenting criticism of the Burmese government. His brother (on the right) is also a member of Par Par Lay's "Moustache Brothers Troupe".

After the performance we had our picture taken with this hero of satire, AND we got t-shirts! Notice the face on my shirt.

Mandalay in summary is a good place for sightseeing with a few good evening entertainment options, as long as you don't mind being followed by desperate trishaw drivers during the day, you should have a good time.

Up next, the stunning sights of Bagan!


Tuesday, March 03, 2009


On February 17th Tara and I arrived in Miami, Florida, USA, one week ahead of schedule to surprise Tara's mom and sister. Since then we have been relaxing and enjoying staying in one place for awhile. In total we travelled for about 4 months, from the time we left Japan until finishing our 3 weeks of volunteer work in Thailand. But don't worry! Though the Southeast Asian Adventure may be over, there are still more pictures and videos to share....

Somewhere in the middle of Burma lies Inle Lake - one of mine and Tara's favourite spots on our trip. The scenery is beautiful, and the quaint, surrounding villages make it a friendly and peaceful place to explore and meet locals. We spent two days taking boats around the lake to visit various markets, temples, and factories where crafts are still made with traditional methods.

This is our talented guide and oarsman Maung-Shwe. He is using the traditional Inle Lake method of paddling a boat with one arm and one leg, while balancing on his other leg.

We stopped in the middle of a lily pad and Maung-Shwe showed us how to make necklaces out of lilies.


The long-necked Karen people. This young girl was making silk scarves with traditional hand-weaving methods.

Over the course of our travels I attempted to grow out my beard. After three months, this is what I had accomplished. At this point I decided it was time to shave...
But I tried some different looks before shaving settling on the clean-shaven look.

I look like a young boy again!

Smiley Tara! I think she likes Inle Lake.

And with sunsets this beautiful. How can you not love it?