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« January 19, 2005 | Main | January 17, 2005 »

January 18, 2005

Namyun Town Hall, 9:50 PM (N26˚59', E96˚10')

Now we are really getting out there. A white, 4-wheel drive Toyota truck arrived to the Shimbweyeng Guest House promptly at 8:30 this morning to take our crew the 30 miles up the road to Namyun in Sagaing Division. The truck was a simple pick-up with side bars and had none of the seats in back like our previous rides. The crew loaded all of our stuff into a single layer in the back of the pick-up bed and put our personal bags on top of the cab. They then laid a thick piece of plastic over all of the bags, roped everything down good and tight, and we all piled in. Andrew up front in the passenger's seat by the driver and everybody else in back. It was pretty soft and cozy, at least for the first hour or so.

This part of the Ledo Road is esentially a two-track trail which is only passable because it hasn't rained for several weeks. There are inclines in places in excess of 45˚, narrow shoulders with steep cliffs, WWII vintage wooden bridges (see A Bridge Too Far), several river crossings, and lots of muds and bumps. Both sides of the road, for most of the six hour trip, are covered with beautiful, closed forest full of rattan. For six hours, we drove through the forest listening to the whoops of gibbons; we didn't pass one settlement. Two military camps, one at Mile 7 and the other at Mile 18, but essentially just endless stretches of forest.

A few culinary notes. This morning for breakfast the kitchen crew made a mustard leaf soup. Very tasty, but so spicy that I couldn't eat it. Hard to believe that they served it as a soup. It was so hot, it would seem more appropriate to put it in a small bottle to sprinkle sparingly on eggs or casseroles like Tabasco sauce.  We stopped for lunch at the military camp at Mile 18, and had a delicious pickled tea leaf and crunchy peanut dish in one of the four compartments of our Tupperware container.

We are currently stationed in a large wooden building with a corrugated roof and concrete floor that serves as the town hall. Everyone is sleeping on the floor. We got a brief rain shower after arriving to Namyun, but it seems to have stopped.  Andrew and I are going to walk down to the river to inspect the bathing facilities.

6:08 PM

The river looks extremely cold.  Namyun seems to be a very pleasant mountain village. There are several stores and a couple of coffee shops, and the houses are all built of wood and up on stilts. The dominant feature of the village, however, is the cloud covered, forest-laden mountain that looms in the background.


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