although i didn't think much of mandalay when i was there, looking back now a year later, i realized i had a pretty good time. i arrived here from bagan, a harrowing 7 hour journey on a stretch of broken road big enough only for a single lane of traffic yet somehow supported two. we passed through 4 security checkpoints and even managed to drive through a crested river. by the end i was covered in road dust, my brain punch drunk from all the violent shaking, and possibly some carbon monoxide poisoning as well.

the taxi driver (and his suspicious-looking friend) who brought me into town from the station belonged to some sort of organized syndicate and wanted to know which hotel i was staying so he and his crew could try to extort the owner for a finder's fee. after i shook them off my trail by walking around the block a few times, i got a room at the nylon hotel and went out to explore.

mandalay (and most of burma for that matter) seems to be a confluence of many different religions: hindu temples opposite muslim mosques with buddhist monks meandering the dusty roads (back in yangon i even saw a synagogue and maybe a catholic church).

i visited the mahamuni paya before returning back to town to get some dinner.

later i wandered the dark streets, made even darker due to another power outage. nevertheless, i made my way to the night market and saw the kinds of things people were selling, everything from old ikea catalogs, to outdated wrestling t-shirts, to marital aids (those were sold by the darkest regions of the streets).




soon it'll be midnight and my electricity might get shut off. i got a letter from nstar saying that from tuesday midnight to 2am wednesday they'll making system improvements in the area and i could experience 2 to 3 "interrupts" in my electric service each lasting up to 30 minutes. so for the next 26 hours i could suddenly lose power - i just won't know when or how long. for the normal person this might not be so bad but i spend most of my time at home so i can't afford a break in service. maybe this is a sign telling me i should go out naturing tomorrow, since how am i going to do work when i could lose everything at a moment's notice?

i had all weekend to relax so that today (monday) i could get back to the business of coding. i thought about going out for a run but i was in a lingo groove and decided to stick it out and finish everything up. besides, i never get back to work after a run anyway. i did two loads of laundry including my bedsheets. after 7pm, i took a shower, and went over to dan's place to catch the season finale of 24. elias and amanda were already there, as well as cymara and baby clarissa. we ordered some pizza and hunkered down with jack bauer served up through tivo. during the commercial breaks we'd switch over to the red sox-yankees game (red sox won of course). the ending? oh those crazy chinese and their long memories! afterwards dan gave everyone a ride home.

(l-r): chiangmai, yangon, boston, yangon, bangkok

luggage locks are essential when i go traveling. what's the one thing i worry about more than anything else when i go abroad? not contracting exotic diseases, or having my tour bus go off a mountain cliff, or being mauled by tigers, or blood-sucking jungle leeches (although that's a close second). no, the thing i worry most about is getting pick-pocketed. everything i bring is essential and i can't afford to have anything stolen. well, actually, if they steal my dirty underwears that's actually doing me a service, but thieves usually take something more valuable, like a piece of equipment. ever since that time i had some stuff stolen from me in xian, china (summer 1999, just some batteries and filters, luckily they didn't take my camera, but there were some great infrared photo ops in the desert that i couldn't take advantage of), i've been careful about keeping my bags out of harm's reach. and one way i can make sure of that is through tiny luggage locks. true, a thief could just take the whole bag but it offers me a sense of security, real or not, from casual opportunistic criminals. i like the combination ones, because there's no keys to lose. these locks cost something like $10 each here in the US, but i got a pair in thailand ($2 each) and when i was in burma i bought another pair for 50¢ each.