Back in Bangkok-(worlds biggest market) and back in Slovenia

After 10 hours of work, I had this blog within 5 minutes of being finished, thanks to WordPress updates, the whole thing was erased. So I’m going to try and not lose this one.
Goodbye Cambodia, Hello Thailand (for the 3rd time in 3 months.)

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STOPPED JUST LONG ENOUGH TO GET THIS PHOTO AND NOT LONG ENOUGH TO GET ARRESTED (coffee and souvenirs in the white bag)
How road weary am I? I paid $500, to change my flight, to be back with Natasa in Slovenia, 2 weeks early. 11 months on the road is a long time. I couldn’t get a flight till Sunday night which means I can visit Thailand’s, CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET.
I saw a cool bike T-shirt in Cambodia, Where did you get it? The Chatuchak Weekend Market, I’m going for sure.
I grab a local bus, as we get closer, I see lots of rocks and gems on the sidewalks (my favorite).

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NICE LAPIS ( I bought a large specimen)

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THIS GUY AND HIS OFFERINGS WERE QUITE INTERESTING
The Market is HUGE, 35 acres with approximately 15,000 business’s, MARKET PHOTOS.
There are the Nike, Levi. Gap etc, knock offs. But there are many independent artist and crafts people’s merchandise too.

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THIS WAS THE FUNNIEST T-SHIRT (they didn’t have my size:()
There were lots of bicycle themed T-shirts, which I found to be a little confusing. Bangkok’s horrendous traffic and poor air quality tend to make bicycling quite dangerous and very unhealthy.

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THE WOMEN TOLD ME HER SON DID THIS DESIGN
This next T-shirt is for my X-boss, who had the nerve to call me lazy! Really? I just finished nearly a year of adventure travel, which was very hard work. I also planned and worked hard for 2 years to be able to have a work-free year.

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MAYBE IF HE PUT DOWN THE BONG LONG ENOUGH, HE COULD WORK SMART INSTEAD OF HARD TOO?
The street food in Bangkok is good and quite cheap. I’ve been eating fresh papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and more daily. Just because it’s a bike business, doesn’t mean it’s good.

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THE GUY WAS GRABBING ONE OF THE DRIED HANGING SQUID, ROLLING IT IN THE PRESS AND BBQing THEM (no thanks)
The claim is that it’s the world’s largest weekend market, I believe it. If you see something you like buy it. The chances of finding that stall again is nearly impossible. I saw some bicycle pillow cases I really liked, but decided not to buy them. I walked a little ways and stopped while I still knew the way back,

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YEP I BOUGHT THEM AND THEY’RE “VERY” POPULAR IN SLOVENIA
I’ve been eating and shopping for nearly 8 hours, my feet are killing me. I grab the bus back to my hotel.

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YEP, I’M GETTING A LITTLE CRAZY AND BORED ON MY LAST DAY IN BANGKOK.
My plane doesn’t leave till midnight, but I must check out of my hotel at noon, That’s 10 hours wandering around Bangkok. I decide that for $20 ($2 hr.) I’m going to keep the room. I tell the hotel I have a friend coming into
Bangkok (a lie). I’m actually going to find someone to give my paid room to. I find a Swedish guy, he says “this is the best thing to happen on my trip.” Glad I could be part of it. We collaborate our stories, I introduce the Swede to the hotel, “as my long lost friend”, it works. I give him the keys and get the mini-bus to the airport.
I board the plane and notice I’m in the “baby” section. I guess that’s what I get for changing my flight.

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SEVERAL BABY BEDS ARE HANGING FROM THE WALLS, RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.
I’m back in Slovenia, no more fresh pineapple or $4 massages.

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NATASA LIKES TO SAY “THIS IS REAL LIFE”, SHOPPING, COOKING, AND DOING DISHES! JUST CALL ME “MR. MOM”
The local tourist office has generously loaned me an electric bike. I’ve been exploring potential bike tour routes. I had a doctors appointment in a nearby village.

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THERE ARE BIKE PATHS THAT CUT THROUGH FARMERS FIELDS, (used by skaters, joggers and walkers too)
I had driven to Kranj with Natasa, but never biked. The advantage of biking is discovering the car-free pedestrian areas.

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THE OWNER TOOK THE PHOTO AND TOLD ME HE DESIGNED THE SIGN (English on one side and Slovenian on the other)

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THE FARMERS HAVE BEEN SPREADING “ORGANIC” FERTILIZER, WHEW!
There are many roads (bike paths) from town that lead to the areas mountains. I’m re-earning my professional “bike walker” credentials. I walked several kilometers to reach the top.

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THE MOUNTAINS DIVERSITY IS STUNNING AND AMAZING, THERE’S FARMING, LOGGING AND RECREATION ALL COEXISTING

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THE LEAVES AREN’T ON THE TREES YET, IT FEELS SO OPEN AND SUNNY IN THE FOREST

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AT THE TOP, ONE OF THE MANY CHURCHES THAT DOT THE HILLS AND VILLAGES AROUND SLOVENIA

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ONCE I HIT THE ASPHALT, FAST WAS THE NAME OF THE GAME
Natasa’s writes me an email-”Can you walk 12 km?” What? There’s a Slovenian coast hike that her friends invited us to come along. Slovenia had a severe ice and wind storm this winter. Driving to the hike we passed an area that every tree had it’s top broken off, plus numerous fallen trees.

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THESE ARE STORM DAMAGED TREES FROM ONE OF MY BIKE RIDES
There was 1500 people on the walk and they were feeding us food and wine every 2 or 3 kilometers, but no Porta-Potties

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NATASA USED THE MENS BATHROOM AT A GAS STATION (the women’s line was too long)
There were lines at every food station, most people waited patiently, but not everyone. People were constantly cutting in line, enough (I thought). So this guy walks past everyone in line and cuts in, yep, I went over and asked him to wait in line like everyone else. He didn’t like it very much, but whatever, he didn’t get his food ahead of us. Happy Hiking
.

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EVERYONE SPOKE SOME ENGLISH, HVALA (thank you)
Natasa put in a new deck last summer, by fall, it was black with mold. I bleached it in December and again last week.

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TREATING THE DECK WITH “DECK OIL”
While on one of my many bike rides I saw some interesting lumber lying in front of a mill. We arranged to buy some and I made planters for the deck.

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NATASA IS PLANTING “EVER-BEARING” STRAWBERRIES

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MORE STRAWBERRIES AND LETTUCE
Natasa is a hard worker (so am I), but you still have to have some fun.

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I TOOK HER TO THE TOP OF A LOCAL MOUNTAIN THAT SHE HAD NEVER BEEN TO.

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SKOFJA LOKA IS THE VILLAGE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PHOTO
I came across an interesting article, listing the 20 MOST PEACEFUL COUNTRIES.

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SLOVENIA CAME IN AT #4 MOST PEACEFUL COUNTRY
I’m currently in Slovenia, heading back to Portland April 14. It’s hard to believe that the year of travel is finished. It’s been awesome, the blog has been fun too. There have been 14,800 views (as of today) from
98 different countries. I’ve gotten 190 comments, basically from the same 7 people (thank you). Lots of people have said they read my blog, but they never leave a comment? It’s nearly the last time that lurkers can leave a comment. You know who you are and so do I, your comments are being formally requested. I also really want to hear from people who are not from the U.S.A.
Natasa is coming to Portland May 18-31 we will be living at my empty house. My pots, pans and dishes are in boxes. This is your opportunity to invite us to dinner, brunch, lunch or breakfast the 2 weeks she’s here, sign -up soon!
Thanks for reading & commenting
Jeff
THAILAND PHOTOS recent photos at end of album
SLOVENIAN PHOTOS recent photos at end of album
NEXT? EPIPHANIES, INSIGHTS AND AWAKENINGS AFTER A YEAR OF TRAVEL

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PHNOM PENH, KOMPONG THOM, AND BACK TO SIEM REAP

After I returned from the snorkel trip to Long Beach, I wanted to go back and spend a night there. But I wasn’t sure how much time it would take to visit Virachey National Park in NE Cambodia? So I leave Koh Rong, before I really wanted to.
On the boat trip back, I sit next to a funny women from Austria. They need to get to the airport, so have reserved a taxi. I ask if I can join them, but they fill the taxi. The bus to Phnom Penh is $9, a taxi split 3 ways is $15, OK. I meet another couple that needs a taxi to the airport, so I decide to go with them.

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PHOTOS FROM THE CAR CAN BE INTERESTING
We drop off the couple at the airport, it’s another 1/2 hour to my hotel.
I’ve saved my souvenir shopping for Phnom Penh, rumor says the market there is really good. While riding the Tuk Tuk, I notice a sushi buffet restaurant, walking distance from my hotel.

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ALL YOU CAN EAT SUSHI AND I ORDER A SOUP BASE FOR THE STEEL POT WHERE YOU CAN ADD: FRESH NOODLES, VEGIES AND MEATS THAT CIRCLE ON THE CONVEYER BELT
There was a soda/juice bar, some asian dishes and a desert bar. I’m stuffed, all for $8.90 (Cambodia uses the dollar).
I stop by the mall just to look around.

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ASIAN WOMEN LOVE SHOES WITH “TALLER” SOLES
Riding around in the Tuk Tuk allows you to observe and photograph daily life.

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THIS IS THE FIRST MILITARY PRESENCE I’VE SEEN
I always associated the Cyclo with Vietnam, but there are still a few in Phnom Penh. They were all wearing T-shirts espousing no-smoking?

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CYCLOS NOW SEEM MORE LIKE A TOURIST ATTRACTION THAN THE LEGITIMATE TRANSPORTATION OPTION, THAT THEY ONCE WERE.

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I LOVE SEEING THE BICYCLE STILL BEING USED AS A LEGITIMATE FORM OF COMMERCE
Cambodia and SE Asia are experiencing the same disparity in incomes as America is. On one hand you have fruit delivered by bicycle.

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THEN YOU SEE TOYOTA LAND CRUISERS DRIVING AROUND
So I’m strategizing (planning) my trip to VIRACHEY NATIONAL PARK. The book says there’s great hikes, jungle, wildlife and water falls. I was hoping to loop back to Siem Reap, except there’s no road. It’s nearly 2 days of busing, basically up and back to Phnom Penh. I hate spending my vacation on the bus, so I opt for doing a smaller loop, around TONIE SAP LAKE, it’s the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia and has a UNESCO designation of great importance.
I have one more day in Phnom Penh, shopping and

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YEP, ANOTHER FOOT MASSAGE, THIS TIME BY A BLIND MASSEUSE
My bus doesn’t leave till the afternoon, so I head back to the RUSSIAN MARKET, for something I saw for Natasa and I. I will be posting a blog about the many things I bought in SE Asia. I met a couple who were so proud they hadn’t bought anything? They were enjoying their country, taking photos and enjoying their “safe” travel, if I can help some locals by buying a few souvenirs, it’s OK, I’m happy to do it.
The NATIONAL MUSEUM is only 1 block from my hotel, I have to go.

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THIS IS THE ONLY PHOTO YOUR ALLOWED TO TAKE INSIDE

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UNLESS YOUR QUICK!
Prostitution is legal in Cambodia, the Tuk Tuk drivers were always asking if I wanted “Boom Boom.”

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THIS WAS THE ONLY SIGN I SAW THAT HINTED SOMETHING WAS GOING ON INSIDE
My bus is here to take me to the Big Bus, bus station. You never know when your going to get a pee break.

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THIS IS A FIRST, PINEAPPLE USED AS A FRESHENER
Back home I got a $100 ticket for talking on the cellphone while driving

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WHETHER YOUR DRIVING A MOTORCYCLE, CAR OR OUR BUS, EVERYONE IS TALKING AND DRIVING..
I try taking photos out the bus window, like the following shots:

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THIS CAR BLOCKED ONE LANE OF A TWO LANE ROAD, OVERLOADED WITH WOOD, THE WHOLE AXEL CAME OUT. (where’s the tow truck?)
The road is being worked on (everywhere constantly) and there’s a 2-3 ft. drop off. It took 5 hours to go 160km (100 miles).

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YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET TOO CLOSE TO THE EDGE, OR ELSE
The road is only partially paved, it’s mostly dirt, they’re getting ready to pave it, when? That’s a good question.

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THIS IS A DUSTY LIFE UNTIL IT’S PAVED.
I decided to stop half the way to Siem Reap at Kompong Thom. It’s famous for having the oldest temples in Cambodia. I talk with the local Tuk Tuk driver, he informs me that the main road is closed (surprised? no). The good part is the alternative road goes through the country and small villages. I have no interest in the temples, but the country drive seems intriguing.

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THE COUNTRYSIDE WAS BEAUTIFUL, WITH VERY LITTLE TRAFFIC (DUST)
I’m glad I came on this “tour”, there is so much going on, “in the middle of nowhere”

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NEARLY EVERY HOUSE WE PASSED HAD A COUPLE COWS IN THE YARD

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THE ROAD WAS FREQUENTLY BLOCKED BY WANDERING COWS
We get to the SAMBOR PREI KUK TEMPLES, lame just as I suspected. But I hire a tour guide for $5 so I don’t miss a thing. Plus he wants another $1 for the community, “to pick up garbage.” I said “I don’t mind paying the extra $1, but there’s garbage everywhere.”
The ride back is more interesting, as I suspected it would be.

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THIS IS “BEST” PHOTO IN CAMBODIA, FOR SURE
It’s amazing how much you can do with just a motorcycle and the desire to work, they’re hauling mattresses.

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THEY ENJOYED ME TAKING THEIR PHOTO, THEY WERE LAUGHING AND WAVING
I’m finally back in town and head to the hotel with the pool.

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I’M KICKING POOLSIDE WITH FILET OF FISH, A PAPAYA SALAD AND PINEAPPLE JUICE, LIVING THE DREAM!
I’m “home” watching the TV news and their showing an accident

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WITH BODIES, THEY SHOWED IT OVER AND OVER
My hair is getting pretty long and in Europe it’s $15 for a haircut, here $2.

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I GOT THE EYEBROWS AND NOSE HAIRS CUT TOO, $1 TIP
The bus is over an hour late (normal) so I wander over and take this photo.

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It’s been a long couple of weeks exploring Cambodia. but I’m back where I started Siem Reap. Heading to my favorite guest house BAYON SHADOW GUEST HOUSE, AC, WiFi, pool and free breakfast.

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EVEN THE BATTH TOWELS ARE MADE TO MAKE YOU FEEL WELCOMED
I do some last minute shopping, eat some frozen yogurt and one more massage. I’m ready to get back to Bangkok and eventually Slovenia.
I’m feeling like an old pro at this travel stuff, I should it’s been 11 months. No, I’m not writing a book, in case your wondering.
I did for the fun of it, not the money.
Thanks for reading and commenting (that includes you)
Jeff
Next? back in Bangkok-(worlds biggest market) and back in Slovenia.
CAMBODIAN PHOTOS

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SIHANOUKVILLE, KOH RONG ISLAND AND “NO WATER!”

I’m taking my bed bug bites and heading to the beach. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know Cambodia even had a beach, I do now, I’m going there! Another 10 hour bus ride to SIHANOUKVILLE.
There are several islands to choose from, I pick KOH RONG.

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I TAKE THE 40 MIN. FAST BOAT vs THE 2.5 HR FERRY.
As burned out on travel as I am, I’m still good at it. Cambodia is similar to many of the other asian countries. The tourist sites here are well developed with a wide range of restaurants and accommodation.

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THIS IS THE VIEW OF THE FERRY DOCK, A FEW STEPS FROM MY BUNGALOW
This is truly a car-free island, it’s great, no motorcycles, no tuk tuks.

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THIS IS “MAIN” STREET, PUSHING GOODS ALONG THE BEACH TAKES 5 PEOPLE, IT’S ACTUALLY DIFFICULT TO JUST WALK IN THE FINE WHITE SAND
I eat at THE PARADISE, where i’m staying. I have a super meal while talking with Natasa via Skype. She wants me to send her a photo, OKI

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A ROMANTIC DINNER FOR ONE
KOH RONG is a typical tourist beach resort, that includes house music till 2am.

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THIS IS THE THEME OF MANY BEACH RESORTS IN SE ASIA
I laid on the beach (which I rarely do), to dry up my bed bug bites.

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THIS WAS ON THE BACK OF A BATHROOM DOOR
I’ve always heard that water would be the next war. Being from the “WET” Pacific Northwest, I really didn’t get it. But, now I’m on an island, during the dry season. I got a bungalow with shower and toilet, but no water.
I couldn’t flush my toilet, take a shower or just wash my face. There’s a bucket for a water stash in the bathroom. We got water for an hour, I quickly flushed the toilet and fill my stash bucket for flushing later! Not enough water for a shower though. Development and resources on the island were not in sinc. I saw the guy next door managing his water storage tank several times a day. I asked him if I could take a shower, “sure”, “just don’t tell anyone!”
I got my hotel to give me a bottle of water, so I could brush my teeth.
Next time you hear, drought or water shortage- it’s real and complicates many of the things we take for granted.
I am a tourist, so I sign-up for a snorkel boat trip, with lunch and fishing, all for $12. I didn’t catch any fish or did anyone else on the tour.

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LUCKILY THE BOAT CAPTAIN KNEW HOW TO CATCH-EM and BBQ-EM!
It was all the beer and soda you could drink.

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I MADE A BBQ FISH SANDWICH WITH VEGETABLES, MMM
The boat had a low draft, so we had to swim to shore to watch the sunset, hence no camera or photos. If I ever came back I would stay on this side of the island. LONG BEACH is gorgeous with simple, uncrowded accommodations. I’m so done with house music till 2am, this beach is a “I’ll be back for sure.”
The bar, next to my place, had a chalk board where you could mark the country where your from if you bought thier special drink.

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YEP, SLOVENIA WAS LISTED
THANKS FOR READING AND COMMENTING
JEFF
NEXT? PHNOM PENH, KOMPONG THOM, AND BACK TO SIEM REAP
CAMBODIA PHOTOS

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BATTAMBANG BIKING, BEDBUGS AND BAMBOO TRAIN

Siem Reap was a cute town, with some interesting history with Angkor Wat.
I only have 3 1/2 weeks in Cambodia and I don’t want to spend it on the bus. But, the roads are so bad it takes forever to get anywhere. The closest town to Siem Reap is BATTAMBANG. So I take the 5 hour, 161 km (100 miles) bus ride.
The Tuk Tuk drivers are waiting at the bus station, to take you to their favorite hotel. I’m starting to opt for Air Conditioning and a pool, but not over $20. I stay at the hotel they suggest, SENG HOUT HOTEL, it has everything I want and MORE!
I decide to walk around a little and explore the town. First thing I see is a guy with no clothes, walking around aimlessly. There seems to be no real government sponsored social services, obviously.

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I SPOT THIS BICYCLE AND TAKE THIS PHOTO, THEN REALIZE IT’S A BICYCLE TOUR COMPANY, (I’ll be back in the morning)
I said the hotel had everything I wanted and More!

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I WAS EATEN ALIVE BY BED BUGS
They don’t hurt or itch, so I decide to do a bike tour. I negotiate an all day tour with bike and guide, $25.

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“GOOD HYGIENE PRACTICE” this is a welcome sign after being sick multiple times in Myanmar.
Were riding our bikes and I notice this bike

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A BANANA TREE STRAPPED TO THE BIKE AND READY TO PLANT (the gentleman had his hand out for a “donation”, NO)
We visit the local Muslim neighborhood market, everyone was very friendly. I bought some fruit and took some interesting photos.

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REFRIGERATION IS IN SHORT SUPPLY, SO DELIVERED BLOCKS OF ICE NEED TO BE CUT TO SIZE
I got the feeling that some areas of Cambodia were still newly explored.

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TAKING PHOTOS REALLY BRINGS OUT PEOPLE’S FRIENDLINESS MORE PHOTOS
We stop by a business that cooks sticky rice with black beans inside bamboo. I bought a couple, but should have bought more, very good!

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THE BAMBOO IS FILLED AND COOKED NEXT TO THE OPEN FIRE

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THEY MUST SCRAP OFF THE BURNT BAMBOO BEFORE THEY SELL THEM
The bike gives you a very street and people perspective of daily life.

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NEED SOME KITCHEN UTENSILS?
American images can be found on many many items

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AMERICAN FLAG FLIP FLOPS, THE SHOE OF CHOICE IN SE ASIA
The KHMER ROUGE left a huge imprint on Cambodian history. Mainly in power from 1975-79. It’s some interesting history, that again involves the U.S. (surprised?). I found THIS ARTICLE that gives a short but detailed history of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (highly recommended).

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THIS IS A TEMPLE THAT WAS USED AS A PRISON DURING THE KHMER ROUGE OCCUPATION My guide said it’s closed because of the smell, of death. Behind the temple is a memorial to some of the deceased and reliefs portraying life under the Khmer Rouge.

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THIS IS A DISPLAY OF SKULL AND BONES OF PEOPLE KILLED BY THE KHMER ROUGE. THE MEMORIAL WAS PARTIALLY PAID FOR BY THE U.S.
All the reliefs were equally disturbing. There was one relief that really caught my attention,

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THE KHMER ROUGE CONFISCATES ALL THE PEOPLES BICYCLES!
They were intent on taking away any and all freedoms. Check out the PHOTOS for more reliefs.
The bike tour rocks, of course. We visit the fish market, their unloading the days catch and

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KIDS DE-BONING SMALL FISH TO MAKE FISH PASTE
We enter a neighborhood where many households make the rice paper used for making salad rolls and spring rolls.

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RICE HULLS ARE USED TO COOK THE RICE PAPER
We visit one of the many temples.

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ONE OF THE BEST SMILES IN CAMBODIA
My bike guide suggest we visit the alligator farm, I tell him we can skip it,he insist

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THEY SELL THE ALLIGATORS TO CHINA
I suggest we make a loop out of the ride, instead of up and back.

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WERE LOST ON THE BACKROADS AND FINALLY OPT FOR TAKING THE SAME WAY BACK
I mention I would like to ride the Bamboo Train. I wait till someone else shows up so we can car-pool.

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I CAR POOL WITH THIS DUTCH GUY
At the end of the ride are the super sellkids

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I THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO EXPLORE THE VILLAGE, NO, “PLEASE BUY SOMETHING”

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THERE WAS THE OCCASIONAL COW ON THE TRACKS
It’s just one track for trains going in both directions, so they take the train apart so you can continue. I made a VIDEO of the train ride.
We stop at a temple on the way back.

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THERE’S A STORY BEHIND IT, BUT I FORGOT,(just enjoy the photo)

I caught this image of “how to get stuff to the 3rd floor”

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HE WALKS A LONG WAYS TO GET THOSE BRICKS TO THE THIRD FLOOR
Lots of people wear respirator masks, I’m not sure which is more hazardous to your health:

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WHICH IS WORSE, THE DIRTY AIR OR RIDING WITHOUT A HELMET?JUST WONDERING.
Many of the roads in SE Asia are just barely big enough for 2 way traffic. The bicycles and pedestrians aren’t really considered.

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THEY’VE ADDED A NICE PAVED SHOULDER FOR BIKES, I WAS LITTLE SHOCKED.
THANKS FOR READING AND COMMENTING
JEFF
NEXT? SIHANOUKVILLE, KOH RONG ISLAND AND “NO WATER!”
MORE CAMBODIAN PHOTOS HERE

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CAMBODIA FOR ONLY $10

The month in Myanmar was tough travel. I decided to spend some recovery time and evaluate my travel readiness. So I stayed in Bangkok to recover from my last sickness and visit the hospital about my butt rash. I’ve been to every Asian country, some several times, except Cambodia. From Bangkok a bus to Siem Reap, Cambodia is only $10. I was feeling better, so I thought I could do it.

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WE CHANGED BUSES 4 TIMES, THIS WAS THE “PATH” ACROSS THE BORDER
I didn’t know much about CAMBODIA except that’s where Unesco’s Angkor Wat is.

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THE BORDER CROSSING WAS QUITE CHAOTIC
The bus stopped a restaurant to grab a bite and use the bathroom.

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TAKING A PEE WITH A “VIEW”
I’m going to visit ANGKOR WAT, first. The guide book suggest renting a bicycle.

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I OPT FOR THE TUK TUK, I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE
I talked with several cyclist, they’re taking the Tuk Tuk tomorrow.

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AFTER ANGKOR WAT WAS PARTIALLY ABANDONED IN 1600, THE JUNGLE TOOK OVER
Almost as interesting as the temples? The hordes of Japanese and Chinese tourist.

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I’M NOT SURE IF THE DIGITAL CAMERA WAS A CURSE OR A BLESSING?
I had a great (English speaking) Tuk Tuk driver.

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MR. SKIPPY

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One of the more interesting temples was the BAYON TEMPLES

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The movie TOMB RAIDER starring Angeline Jolene was filmed here.

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IT WAS THE MOST CROWDED SITE, I THINK THE MOVIE SITE WAS A BIGGER DRAW THAN THE ACTUAL TEMPLES
Part of the preservation of the temples are some re-constructions.

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SOMEONE HAS ALREADY VANDALIZED THE RE-CONSTRUCTIONS, UN-BELIEVABLE (notice the missing nose)
I asked someone what happen to all the missing heads? “they’re in Thailand.”
The most well preserved and crowded temple was the ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE. It was surrounded by a mot, so the jungle wasn’t able to swallow it up like the other temples.
Their were monkeys hanging around entertaining the tourist (sorry no photos). I met a cyclist while walking, told her I wish I had ridden.

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YET SHE DIDN’T NEED MUCH CONVINCING TO ACCEPT A RIDE BACK TO TOWN WITH HER BIKE
Doesn’t matter the age, everyone is expected to help the with the family needs. I captured this scene while leaving the temples

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CHILDREN GATHERING FIREWOOD FOR THE FAMILY TO COOK WITH
I fell in love with SIEM REAP. I started and eventually ended my Cambodian trip here.

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NIGHTLIFE CENTERED AROUND PUB STREET (touristy, but hey I’m a tourist)

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HOUR FOOT MASSAGES $4
I stayed at the BAYON SHADOW GUEST HOUSE. What a great place, wifi, free breakfast, access to the swimming pool , GREAT restaurant.

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“SUMMER” WAS COMING AND THE POOL WAS A WELCOME RELIEF (so was the room Air Conditioning)

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THE BAYON BREAKFAST WAS GOOD, BUT MADE BETTER WITH MY HOMEMADE FRUIT SALAD OF DRAGON FRUIT, BANANA, WATERMELON AND YOGURT
Keeping it true to the name, Jeffs Bike Tour. I rented a bike for $2 a day

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SHORT RIDE FROM “TOWN”

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THE INFRASTRUCTURE CAN BE A LITTLE CONFUSING AT TIMES

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“GET ON YOUR BIKES AND RIDE”
Sorry this took so long to post, but again, adventure travel is work. I couldn’t find the 6-7 hour window to do a post.
Thanks for reading and commenting
Jeff
MY PHOTOS
NEXT? BATTAMBANG BIKING, BEDBUGS AND BAMBOO TRAIN

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FINAL THOUGHTS ON MYANMAR

First, the people of Myanmar are super friendly, hardworking and very honest (lowest (reported) crime rate in SE Asia). The Burmese are somewhat shy, but I found if I smiled, they ALWAYS SMILED back.
The country is run by a military dictatorship, with promises of “ELECTIONS” in 2015. The history of Myanmar politics is too much for me to cover here. But to put the situation in perspective, Myanmar is ranked 171 out of 176 countries as most corrupt.

20140308-160606.jpg DEFORESTATION CAN BE DIRECTLY LINKED TO DECISIONS FROM WITHIN THE MILITARY
Most of the young backpackers I met said they loved Myanmar. So I asked them which parts they liked?: the deforested jungles? the open sewers? the sub-par highways? the rickety train? the constant smokey haze caused by cooking with wood? the garbage strewn everywhere? buses that arrrived at 4am to unknown towns? The fees you paid just to enter a town? The lack of accommodation? The continuous piles of burning trash, including plastics? Boy did I get a confused look.
I said in 20 years it will look the same, except maybe a few more 5 star hotels and louder vehicle horns.
With one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, the SOIL EROSION problem is critical. You could see the brown silt in the rivers. At current rates of erosion, they may not be able to grow enough food to feed themselves, within 10 years.
The young backpackers were on a more limited budget than me. So, I guess $2 food and $10 hotels were good. I view the world environmentally and Myanmar gets a big “F”.
I sat at the hotel one day and read 15 English versions of the MYANMAR TIMES. There was one story how top military and cabinet officials were taking classes on how to run a country, that’s how clueless they are. They REPORTED that only 1/3 of government initiatives were accomplished. Next time your un-happy with American politics (I am), just remember, it could be worse.
Due to the Food Insecurity and Poverty levels most Burmese experience, Opium production is up 13% in just the past year. When the British were here, Myanmar was the wealthiest SE Asian country, when the military took over it became the poorest country.
I still feel somewhat compelled to return and explore northern Myanmar and far south Myanmar. The Lonely Planet Guide book recommends avoiding places (hotels & tours) operated by the government. I feel the same way, until there are free and verifiable elections I’m recommending avoiding Myanmar. Yep, boycott Myanmar until the situation changes for the good of the common Burmese citizen and not just the rich. I’m only one person, but when people stop visiting and filling the coffers of the military, maybe they’ll get the message? Hopefully.
I didn’t gloss over the real problems of Myanmar, I felt compelled to tell the truth , from what I saw. There are many countries you can visit, that offer many activities, in an environment that still includes trees and wildlife!
Let’s end on a happy note
While visiting a Pagoda in Bago, I noticed these fires with something cooking above them and lots of activity. Upon further investigation I discover the making of a rice/coconut and peanut treats. It’s a full moon treat made at the monk monastery. I video taped it, WATCH IT HERE
Hey, HAVE A GREAT DAY!
JEFF
NEXT? FIRST EVER VISIT TO CAMBODIA

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GOLDEN ROCK AND MAWLAMYINE, MYANMAR

I’v seen all the Pagodas I need to see, that being said. I’m headed to the GOLDEN ROCK PAGODA, the third most important Pagoda in Myanmar. It’s like Castles and Churches in Europe, Monasteries in Greece or Mosques in Turkey, I’ve seen enough Pagodas, but it’s in the same direction I’m headed, so here I go.
I bought my bus ticket an hour before it came.

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SO I GET THE FOLDING SEAT BETWEEN THE “REGULAR” SEATS, I SKIP ONE SEAT AND IT MAKES A GREAT LOUNGE CHAIR FOR MY LONG LEGS
I’m always worried about the bathroom “opportunities” on the bus, on a bicycle it’s never a problem. The bus stops always show me something I haven’t seen before.

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YOU CAN BUY A “GOOD LUCK” BIRD FOR $1 AND SET IT FREE
This stop was quite helpful and interesting

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SHE RE-FIXED MY WATCH BAND (for free!)
I did hard physical work in America, digging ditches, trimming trees, hauling dirt in garbage cans, but nothing like you see here.

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PUSHING THE CART UN-LOADED WOULD BE HARD WORK. TO PUSH IT LOADED? IMPOSSIBLE FOR MOST OF US
I finally get to town and secure a hotel room. Find the WiFi hotel and plan to visit the “GOLDEN ROCK” today.

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THEY’RE TAKING PEOPLE UP THE MOUNTAIN, BY THE TRUCK LOADS
I have to take my shoes off, a long way from the rock. But,

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I’M NOT CARRYING 90LBS SACKS OF CONCRETE, BAREFOOT! (so quit bitching)

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THE STORY IS THAT BUDDHAS HAIR IS UNDER THE ROCK TO HELP KEEP IT BALANCED

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Sometimes it’s easier to look at google images, than look at my I-phone photos. Most people have better cameras and take photos at every angle, I’m not a photo reporter, so view more GOLDEN ROCK PICTURES HERE
I did consider this option

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IF FOR NOTHING ELSE, IT WOULD HAVE MADE A GREAT PICTURE
The road up to the golden rock is super steep and the driver drove like a Gran Prix racer. I was actually a little apprehensive about the ride back. The driver was more cautious on the way back, thank Buddha (god),

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I GOT A FEW GOOD PICTURES RIDING THE TRUCK DOWN
I picked my hotel because it was a quiet area, I thought. There’s a wedding near my hotel. Tradition is when you get married here, they start the celebration at 4:30 in the morning, by playing music “loud.” I heard Neil Young’s “HEART OF GOLD” 3 times, sung in Burmese.
I’ve seen the rock, now I got to go. The “free” breakfast isn’t much.

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I GET SOME FRESH CUT WATERMELON FOR THE BUS RIDE
As crazy as they drive, I haven’t seen any accidents or many wrecked vehicles? I did spot this crashed vehicle from the bus.

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THEY’RE USUALLY FULL OF PEOPLE, NOT WEARING SAFETY BELTS
I make it to MAWLAMYINE
I’m still feeling a little sick, but decide to go on the Hpa-An island tour.

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IT’S AN HOUR BOAT RIDE AND IT’S A FULL BOAT
We stop at these little cottage industries, with our Tuk Tuk, while circling the island. The “road” (if you can call it that) is so rough, I think I’m going to throw up. I’ve had enough of Myanmar. I struggle through the various workshops: chalk boards, hats, walking canes, pens and rubber bands. The rubber band “factory” was very interesting. There are rubber trees everywhere, so they are true “rubber” bands.

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FIRST HE DIPS THE 6 METAL RODS IN THE LATEX MIX, 5 OR 6 TIMES

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THEY THEN DRY THEM IN THE SUN, WHEN DRY, THEY ROLL THEM OFF THE RODS. THE TOUR GUIDE SAID THEY WERE ELEPHANT CONDOMS

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THIS IS THE MACHINE USED TO CUT THE RUBBER TUBES INTO RUBBER BANDS. YOU CAN BUY A 1000 FOR $1. I USED A COUPLE TO FIX MY SUN GLASSES!
It was interesting circling the island, so many photo opportunities.

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YOU LOOK AT THIS AND THINK, WOW THAT’S HARD WORK
But the alternative has a price too

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USING OIL HAS AN OBVIOUS PRICE TOO
One gallon of gasoline provides approximately 225 man hours of labor. That’s one of the reasons America’s economy has been able to grow so fast. But it too came at a high price, Climate Change. The Chinese economic miracle was exploited on the back of the environment. I’ve been watching the news here in Cambodia. I hope America and the rest of the world is enjoying those “cheap” Chinese imports! because right behind them is a cloud of toxic dust that helped make that cheap stuff.

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THERE WAS LOTS OF NICE SCENERY
Our Tuk Tuk driver ran out of gas on the tour. So we sat by the road till he could get us back to the boat dock.

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THE “STOP” MADE FOR A GREAT PHOTO OF SOME TRADITIONAL HOUSING
Were back and I want to go to the French Bakery and buy some coffee beans.

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SO I PEDAL THE BICYCLE TAXI A COUPLE KILOMETERS, PEOPLE WERE WAVING AND TAKING OUR PICTURE, IT WAS A GREAT WAY TO END MY MYANMAR JOURNEY
I wanted to leave the next day. Butt, no, I got up at 4:30 am and was shitting like crazy again. I wanted to take the every other day taxi to Thailand, But I was at the bathroom every 10-15 minutes. I started taking the medicine right away. By 9:30 I felt I could ride in the car, without stopping. I am so done with being sick, Myanmar and travel in general.
So I take a motorcycle taxi to the Thailand taxi stop. It’s a place where they fill a car with people and go. $10, 5-6 hours.
He stops at a regular gas station and doesn’t want to pay their price.

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SO WE STOP AT THE 5 GAL. JUG GAS STATION. ONE GUY POURS AND ONE GUY HOLDS THE SCREEN
There is 7 of us in the car. We pass a couple cute girls, waiting by the road, pack em in. Now there’s 9 of us in this little car.
Taking pictures from the road can be rewarding and insightful, to peoples daily struggles.

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THERE’S AT LEAST ONE MORE TRIP LEFT IN THIS TRUCK
The “highway” is crazy: pavement, gravel, dirt, holes

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NO GUARD RAILS AND THE ROAD DROPS OFF, IT’S A LITTLE SCARY
This is one of the main trade routes with between Thailand and Myanmar.

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I SAW THIS SEVERAL TIMES, GOODS LEFT BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, UNDELIVERED.

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WHEN THE ROAD WAS PAVED, IT HAD TO BE SHARED

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WE PASSED 5 OR 6 AREAS WHERE THEY WERE WORKING ON THE ROAD, BY HAND!

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WE PASSED JUST AS MANY “CHECK” STATIONS ASKING FOR DONATIONS (I gave once)
OK one more road photo

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THE ROAD WAS ROUGH, DUSTY AND WINDY
One of the girls we picked up thought so too.

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THAT’S HER PUKING IN THE PLASTIC BAG FOR THE SECOND TIME (I know, nice photo Jeff)
Were almost down off the mountain, and all the sudden everyone is washing their cars and trucks on the side of the road.

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SO WE STOP AT ONE OF THE MANY WASH STATIONS AND THEY POWER-WASH AND SCRUB OUR CAR
We finally make it to the border, I’m the last to be dropped off. What a fucking adventure, 3 passport checks, harrowing mountain road and only 1 guy who spoke english in the car.

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THE REPUBLIC OF THE UNION OF MYANMAR
NOW, MY FAVORITE PHOTO OF MYAMAR

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THANKS FOR READING AND I HOPE YOU’VE ENJOYED MY BLOG. AGAIN COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!
JEFF
NEXT? FINAL THOUGHTS ON MYANMAR
MYANMAR PHOTOS HERE

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