Stephan and Klaudia Mandl

Stephan and Klaudia

Stephan and Klaudia Mandl

We have quit our jobs to start travelling around South East Asia during 2005. Our 10 months journey will take us to India, Nepal, Tibet, China (Yunnan), Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. So keep tuned if you want to travel with us.

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan October 26th 2005

For those readers who do not follow our adventures on a regular basis, we are still in the Bagan Archaeological Zone, and about to write about less well-known monuments. This classification is by no means meant as a qualification, we just saw too much and have too many pictures that we would like to share, so we split our Bagan impressions into two blogs. There are definitely highlights in Bagan, which no visitor must miss, but other temples are equally worth visiting and often offer positive surprises. One day we decided to cycle to several monuments situated further away from the beaten tracks, we started with the Dhammayangyi Temple from the 12th century. It is almost impossible to overlook, being the largest temple at Bagan, dominating the plains southeast of the Walled City of Old Bagan. ... read more
Bagan Panorama
Reconstructed temples
Reconstruction work

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Bagan October 21st 2005

To say it straightforward: we absolutely loved the area of Bagan and stayed there for nine days! Whatever other sites in Myanmar you visit, Bagan is undoubtedly the cultural climax that no visitor should miss, no matter how little time they have at their disposal. The numerous religious monuments (over 2,000 still standing) near the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River (better known as Irrawaddy River), in a plain crossed by few major roads but many paths, in the middle of fields and trees constitute one of the most fabulous archaeological sites in the world. King Anawratha (1044-1077) was the true unifier of the Burmese kingdom by stopping the Khmer invasion; he brought forth numerous Buddha relics from the military campaigns for which a suitable setting had to be built, considering their holy status. This is ... read more
Typical Bagan panomara
Shwezigon Pagoda
Praying at the Shwezigon Pagoda

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Inle Lake October 20th 2005

Lake Inle is definitely a site of great natural beauty, anyway in its vicinity there are also several interesting cultural attractions to see. When we came from Mandalay, the taxi stopped in Pindaya, a place famous for its Buddhist caves. We did it like this because it was practical, requiring only a small detour, but most people visit Pindaya in a day trip from Lake Inle, as it is situated only at a 2hrs ride from there. Another day we chartered a taxi with Huguette and Jean-Marc that took us to the archaeological site of Kakku which turned out to be so fantastic that it consumed a whole day. When we made our extensive walk in the lake’s surroundings, we passed by the Shwe Yan Pyay monastery 2km from Nyaungshwe in direction of Heho (location of ... read more
One of the alleys in Kakku
Stupas of Kakku
Stupas everywhere

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Inle Lake October 17th 2005

We had managed to come to Lake Inle for the Phaung Daw U festival going on for 18 days until its 2005 grand finale on October 21st. Its beauty, harmony and originality make this aquatic spectacle superior to all other traditional festivals in Myanmar, and some even call it one of the best of its kind in South East Asia. Well, we would be present to witness, and agree to or contradict this opinion. Its tradition goes back to the 12th century, when a very pious king was zealous to spread Buddhism in his country. Wherever he travelled on the lake, he always used a royal barge, on the top of which five little Buddha statues were set. By and large the statues were more and more venerated and the Phaung Daw U festival was born. ... read more
Local population waiting for the cortege
Offerings for the Buddha statues
Everyone is excited

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Inle Lake October 16th 2005

Again we were on the road for a full day to get from Mandalay to Lake Inle, but the taxi was pretty comfortable, the roads not too bad and the scenery really beautiful. We soon left the main road linking Mandalay with the capital Yangon, and after passing a checkpoint we kept driving uphill for a considerable time. The resulting cooler climate was a welcome change after the heat and dust of Mandalay. Jean-Marc had an altimeter with him and entertained us with the announcement of the changing altitude. Especially our taxi driver was fascinated and kept asking for new information. He was a nice guy speaking excellent English and told us that he had studied economics but was barred from studying after participating in student protests, which had rendered him very frustrated and filled with ... read more
Bicycle tour
Pagoda on a hilltop
View from the small pagoda

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Monywa October 14th 2005

The end of our stay in Mandalay was coming closer and we tried to organise our trip to Lake Inlay although we would really have wanted to visit another place around Mandalay, Monywa. But the taxi was very expensive for only two people and somehow we had not managed to find others who wanted to see the place. We were sitting in the hotel lobby when a French couple (Huguette and Jean-Marc) entered, they had just come back from another trip. As a conversation quickly evolved, they agreed to join us on the trip, which all of a sudden made it feasible. This trip would be very long and tedious but the staff at the guesthouse assured us that we could make it in one day, contrary to what was written in all the guidebooks. We ... read more
Murals around the big Lying Buddha
Fascinating wall painting
Buddha statues

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Mandalay October 12th 2005

There are several locations of interest around Mandalay which can easily be reached in a one-day trip and we of course wanted to see as many of them as possible. We visited four small cities of historical importance, of which three had been capitals of the Burmese kingdom in former centuries. Historical backgroundSagaing became the second Burmese capital around 1315 after the fall of Bagan. Its period of importance was short, for in 1364 the founder's grandson moved his capital across the river to Ava. From 1760 to 1764 Sagaing was once again the capital. Moving entire capitals is a tradition in Burma; the most important Burmese town of the northern Ayeyarwady (formerly known as the Irrawaddy) valley had for a long time been the town of Ava, founded in 1364. But in 1782 the town ... read more
U Bein Bridge
Watchtower at Lake Taungthaman
Fishing boats

Asia » Burma » Mandalay Region » Mandalay October 9th 2005

From the geographical point of view, we were already quite close to southern Myanmar on Kho Phi Phi, but we could not find out whether it was possible to cross the border there, since information on Myanmar is very difficult to come by. For this reason, Myanmar has been a stumbling block of our travel itinerary since the very beginning. We originally planned to start there and cross over to India, but most of Myanmar’s land borders are closed, and furthermore this changes very quickly. So we ended up in Bangkok, considering Thailand’s capital the only gateway to Myanmar. But even in the city where everything can normally be organised for you, they knew painfully little and told us that the only way to enter Myanmar was from Bangkok by plane and that you were obliged ... read more
Train to Mandalay
Typical local Myanmar bus
Royal Palace and Mandalay Hill

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Ko Phi Phi Don September 29th 2005

Ten years ago we had travelled extensively in Thailand for one month, but had not been to the southern part of the country. Coming from Malaysia it seemed natural to us to make a stop on our way to Bangkok, and our destination of choice was Koh Phi Phi. People unanimously are crazy about the landscape, the wonderful beaches and the impressive underwater life and the local population definitely needs all the money they can get for reconstruction after the tsunami. It was supposed to be a long way from Georgetown, so we left by mini van at 5 a.m., crossed the Thai border in a couple of minutes (a visa free of charge included) and headed towards Hat Yai. Everything was well organized, there the tourists were split up according to their destinations, like Koh ... read more
Enjoying our holidays
Long Beach at Phi Phi Don
Mangrove trees

Asia » Malaysia » Penang » George Town September 20th 2005

The trip from the Perhentian Islands to Georgetown meant crossing Malaysia from east to west. Although it is not as far as the country’s expansion from north to south, it is said to be long and rather tedious, because there is no direct road. There is a direct bus, though, from Kota Bharu to Butterworth, the mainland city closest to Georgetown on Penang Island, at 9:30 a.m. As the morning boat was supposed top leave the island at 8 a.m., we should easily catch this buys; but the boat was late (rather unusual for Malaysia) and the shared taxi did not manage to take us to the bus terminal on time. There was either a night bus or a bus next morning to Butterworth but we were determined to reach Georgetown the same day and were ... read more
Like a scene from the movie 'Indochine'
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Exterior decoration of Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

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