Northern Loop Trip

Trip Start Dec 26, 2003
Trip End Mar 28, 2005

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Flag of Myanmar  ,
Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I then embarked on an 8 day round trip heading to Myitkyina, pretty much as
far north as a visitor can get in Burma. This was a 35 hour train ride north
of Mandalay on a train which departed 6 hours late & I am not sure if it had
a scheduled arrival time. The train felt like it was built to travel on a
different gauge of track to the one used and I was glad to arrive safely in
Myitkyina. Of course, at 4am, it wouldn't be Burma if transport arrived
somewhere at a convenient time. The train bounced up and down & from side to
side and I feared falling out of my upper bunk on the sleeper car. Somehow I

Myitkyina had three travellers in it that weren't missionaries, myself, a
Scotsman & an Irishwoman. The Lonely Planet described Myitkyina as having
little of interest to the traveller, which seemed like as good an advert as
I can imagine as anything. I met a group of guys at a later destination that
described the Lonely Planet guide to Burma as "The Book of Lies" due to its
many inaccuracies.

From Myitkyina, I travelled by jeep to Bhamo. This 186km ride took 9 hours &
involved me having my passport checked 9 times, just to make sure I
didn't...... Well, I am not sure what. Run 20km to the Chinese border? I
subsequently met a Burmese who couldn't believe that I had been permitted on
this road, as a foriegner. I should have had to have taken a boat, but I was
refused that option with various excuses including the boat isn't running
and after I proved that it was, that the boat company didn't have a licence
to carry foreigners. After a chat with Immigration, I was pointed to the
jeep option.

From Bhamo, I travelled by boat down the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay. This
was a beautiful trip - argued as the most beautiful in Burma. The trip took
4 days & 3 nights & I slept on the covered deck surrounded by locals making
the same trip & talking/communicating with them was a highlight. There were
a total of 4 foreigners on the boat. We made a number of stops including
Katha, which is the real setting of George Orwell's Burmese Days. I was
photographed by Burmese Military Intelligence on this trip, posing in front
of a setting sun with Mr Burmese Military Intelligence & Mrs Burmese
Military Intelligence, neither of whom had spoken to me at all on the 4 day
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