mangoes hanging from tree

inle lake was almost an afterthought: it wasn't on my original itinerary and the only reason why i decided to visit was hearing how amazing it was from other travelers who'd already been there (from 2 israeli girls in saigon, from an american girl in bagan). i arrived here in the middle of the night, the bus lurching to a stop on the side of the road. a burmese man immediately approached and started asking in broken english for my ticket. i was suspicious at first but soon realized he was my only ride into nyaungshwe (8 miles away), where all the guesthouses are. he took my ticket (which he can redeem for money) while we waited for another bus to arrive to bring more foreign tourists. this is all in pitch dark, the only light from a nearby rest stop. with enough people finally in the old minivan, we were on our way. we stopped at one point to get gas: our driver (his name was "wedgie") knocked on somebody's door in the middle of the night and came back out with a container of supposed fuel.

house on stilts

i ended up staying at the bright hotel and rented a bicycle to explore the town. places like nyaungshwe are my favorites, small enough to get around with a bicycle, with picturesque scenery at every corner. i spent a great deal of time by the side of the road looking for pretty insects to photograph. i even managed to ride my bike up into the hills where i met some mountain people who were amused enough by my presence to allow me to take a photo.

for some reason there are several italian restaurants in nyaungshwe, probably to cater to their foreign clientele (i hardly saw any foreigners, there were just 4 other people staying at my hotel and i knew them all after we had breakfast together). i had pizza for lunch (i was the only customer) and pasta for dinner (once again, there was nobody else but me). they even grew their own italian herbs (like basil) but they weren't doing too well in the dry heat. the romantic evening ambience of the candlelight was courtesy of another blackout. i ate outside while one of the waiters strummed a guitar (the music wasn't for me, they were just bored).

fortunately i had a flashlight in my bag and was able to find my way back to where i was staying. up above the stars twinkled in the night sky.

prosciutto and melon

after 4 hours of sleep i woke up to go to my doctor's appointment, a follow-up from my visit 2 weeks ago. i was going to walk there originally (it'd have taken 20 minutes) but with the bike it took just 3 minutes. the antifungal cream i've been using to treat that rash on my neck? it's probably not fungal because it didn't seem to help, and if anything, i was experiencing the side effect of more intense itching. so my doctor prescribed a steroid ointment used for fighting skin infections. i also told him about how i was having a hard time hearing out of my left ear and how i self-diagnosed myself and figured it had something to do with nasal congestion. he prescribed some flonase, a corticosteroid nasal spray. with that out of the way, he went over my lab work from last time. nothing unusual except i have an extremely elevated amount of renin, an enzyme produced by the kidneys. this could be a clue as to why i have hypertension, but it could also be due to one of the HBP medications i take, which can increase renin levels as well. the doctor told me to stop taking that particular drug and come back for another lab work in a few weeks. when i got home the travel clinic called me to schedule my hepatitis b vaccination and then i called the cardiology department at the kenmore square harvard vanguard office to schedule an electrocardiogram test.

the weather was gorgeous today but with client P presenting tomorrow morning, i was on standby mode to fix any bugs that might spring up so i couldn't afford to leave the house. my father dropped by with some chinese carrot cake. by late afternoon when it seemed like everything was fine, i went out for a run.

i left for kenmore square a little bit after 5pm, returned to a small hidden parking spot (free) i discovered last summer (easily beat the $30 fenway park parking). joel had invited me to another screening, this time for x-men: the last stand at the fenway AMC. the turnout was surprisingly low for a big summer sequel (maybe the cosplayers will show up at the midnight screening). the movie had no redeeming quality other than to entertain, although parallels can easily be drawn from the mutant problem in the film to real life issues like homophobia and alienation. but for the most part it's just a lot of action and explosions and special effects. and talk about mutants! you really get your money's worth, although a few old favorites either die or lose their powers. you might not think it, but juggernaut is actually the best character in the entire movie. frasier crane as the beast? what's his special power, monkey dexterity? and poor famke and her scary-ugly carriesque phoenix moments (her dry hump with wolverine got the crowd to make some noise). and something happens to mystique that if you're a fan of rebecca romijn you'll sure to be pleased. if you stick around after the credits finish rolling, there's a bonus scene which leaves open the possibility of yet another x-men sequel.