By Richard W. Wise, G.G.
"Oh the road to Mandalay where the flying-fishes play, An the dawn comes up like thuner outer China 'crost the bay" Rudyard Kipling
It is the beginning of the summer season. The days are hot but the nights turn cool in the hours past . I fall asleep early and wake up in the predawn darkness. I am sitting on my verandah typing away, enjoying the cool morning breeze blowing off the river. My little cottage overlooks the Irrawady. An early rising cock crows nearby. Ghostly lights far off on the opposite bank of the river flicker through the mist and the thumping sound of a one lung diesel powered fishing boat echoes off the river.
Today we go to
Five hundred thirty miles in three days! Traveling six hours a day that means our average speed works out to just twenty-nine miles per hour. To me it feels like doing eighty in a fifty mile per hour zone. The average speed of automobile travel in the
The sky is dark blue and cloudless. Not a hint of rain in the air. The landscape continues to be arid. We pass a series of irrigated fields. They are growing tobacco. The peasants use bullocks to plow up the dark mud. In one field the tobacco leaves are spread out drying in the tropical sun. The road alternates between tarmac and long stretches of dirt road. “This is the good road” Lwin tells me. Good?, I’d hate to see the bad but just then we reach it. The road will lead us to the main artery that runs between
Life Along the side of the highway is little different from that along the secondary roads we have been traveling . No mega gas stations, no fast food malls. The closer we get to larger population centers the more trucks and motorbikes we see. Along the country roads, the people were almost always on bicycles and trishaws. Goods and people move by human muscle power.
We arrive in
We stop at Lwin’s favorite restaurant. I know the drill: pick and pick out my dishes at a glass walled counter. They are brought to our table along with a steaming mound of fluffy white rice. We order fresh squeezed lemonade from a stall just outside. I decide on mutton balls, Lwin orders fish. Each is served with several dishes of condiments, tomato, chili, bean dip and a plate of raw vegetables. I pick up a long green pealed vegtable that . looks like a kind of squash and tastes like it too. Lwin offers me a slice of peeled green mango; the taste is very much like lemon.
Mango is a favorite of mine. The rich creamy fruit was just coming into season in
Soup is always part of the meal. It bubbles away in a huge iron cauldron. I am not sure what the soup base is but kale is a major ingrediant.
Cheap nourishing soups are a staple in
Tomorrow, Lwin promises, several of his miner friends will make the trip down from Mogok to show us stones. Stay tuned...
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