Neil’s Wheeling #15 February 10, 2014

(note from Rachel: I hadn’t realized there would be so many of these! Tim updates with more oomph than my Grandpa, mostly because Grandpa doesn’t know how to use a computer, so we relied on phone calls when we could get them. This seems to be taking over my blog at the moment, but I’m OK with that. I’ve been feeling lazy anyway and what’s happening in Burma is much more exciting that what’s happening in Phoenix. It’s sunny again, blue skies and people on the train stunk. Same ole, same ole.)

[Steve adds clarifying remarks to what] Tim says:

Getting prepped to head on out, leaving the road to Burma, so as to follow a couple thousand kilometers of the mighty Mekong River. Have no idea about resources in the north of Thailand and Laos, but do know they have at least an airport.

Did a ‘tourist’ day today, on recommendation from the inn keeper here in Yangon, got another interesting overview. One was a very different type pagoda in the middle of a significant river 20 or 25 miles out of town, then ferried out by a boat designated for ‘foreigners’. We were the only ones.

Later in our visit there, a number of other Asian types came out on it, and they were probably Koreans. Never saw another European our whole couple of hours there.

Next, went to very nice national park about the size of Alton Baker, [a city park in downtown Eugene] that has a piece set aside for artifacts, housing and industry examples, and cheap products/souvenir stuff from the “Seven native peoples” that make up the 7 nations (states) of Myanmar, some of those individual states having dozens of different ethnic tribes.

The primary pride of the locals we meet and talk to is about which state they come from, then secondarily their tribe, because the tribes sometimes cross over into several of the states. This ancient culture has conquered and been conquered countless times by the surrounding countries, but primarily the biggies: Thailand, China, and Indonesia.

Each time bounty is brought back by the conquering armies and almost always involves the looting of massive Buddhist statues and antiquities, and sometimes even showing some of the cross pollination with Hinduism.

Once again, not a European sighted throughout the whole park. Sort of keeps us smug about picking the right times and places to do our own tourist check-off list. Oh well.

One big difference in the 3 weeks since we arrived though: it was difficult to believe when we arrived to temperatures in the 80’s, and cooling to the low 70’s early in the a.m., that it really is their winter. Locals were ‘bundled up’ at the weirdest times, sometimes in the warmth of the day.

In just the 3 weeks, temperatures are now consistently in the low and mid- 90’s, the trees and shrubs are starting to explode with flowering, and the birds are clamoring and chirping and invading all the porches we sit on to gather up their nest materials. If this is Spring, I cannot imagine what summer will bring in terms of oppressive heat and humidity.

Anyway, health is perfectly acceptable for both of us. We are trying to time our currency trades to the last couple of dollars. Things are going very well.

Sure hope all the folks we’ve invited to the USA don’t all come at the same time.

Talk soon, I hope. gsn t.

Steve elects to not add any snarky comments because it would detract from their story.

During his other trips, I had to wait many days until Neil had the opportunity to telephone us with updates. This trip, Tim is reliably sending us messages almost every day. Some of his messages are a little confusing – probably because of the influence of his confused and overheated traveling companion. For instance, what does “health is perfectly acceptable for both of us” mean?

The boys are now in northern Thailand for a couple of days. Then, assuming they follow the prearranged plan, they will go to Laos for the rest of February. They pop back into Thailand for the last couple of days before returning home in early March.

I am on tenterhooks wondering what they will buy me. It will probably be so big that there won’t be any space in their suitcases for a gift for you. Sorry.

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