Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Burmese Birthdays

Wow - thanks to the almost non exsistent email and internet service in Burma I am waaay behind on my blogging: am back in thailand now but thought I'd better wrap up the rest of the journey.

My birthday: I spent the dawning of my 35th year in Taungoo (a very dusty hot logging town) after watching three elephants pull teak logs out of the jungle the day before. Basically the whole logging thing has put me off teak for life (shame that as I just love the furniture) the reason? Beautiful swathes of jungle in Burma has be decimated from logging - one valley we drove through looked like the sad bit the Dr Suess book The Lorax - just burned tree stumps and dirt. Secondly Lek had said to me "you won't like teak when you see how hard the elephants work", the littlest elephant in the group we watched was literally whimpering before she was chained up to the log. The effort she was making to pull it was making her groan and her forehead was almost on the ground. Hard word for the poor ellies. Apparently a lot of the teak they pull ends up as cute little elephant shaped figurines that get sold in thailand, yuk.

On my birthday after a spectacular breakky featuring no less than 34 plates on the table and people actually FANNING us while we ate it was time to jump on the bus to Yangon. The bus ride was memorable only for the amazing video of Burmas hottest band "Iron Cross" getting down and grungy with their long hair and guitars singing early Beatles stuff IN Burmese - you ain't heard nothing til you've heard "Please Please Me" in Burmese. We all sang along with the locals of course!

After a visit to the Shwedagon Paya - a massive gold leaf, gold plated, ruby and diamond encrusted temple it was time to farewell our crazy elephant friends. On this day it was Ed's birthday and we celebrated by nursing hangovers from the night before in our swanky hotel, watching truly awful horror films on cable and checking out the view of the Shwedagon Paya from our huge windows, deluxe.

After the gang left we had a few more days in Yangon and after some questionable meals, traffic fumes, blackouts, an invitation from a buddhist monk to visit him in Malaysia and 40 degree heat it was time to step on out of there and head for the beach in Thailand.


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